Infrastructure comprises any facilities and services that are required as part of your event. Before you make a final decision on your start/finish area and the route, look carefully at what infrastructure you will require and what is already in place. You may wish to use existing facilities and services, or where these are insufficient you may need to have temporary provisions for use by staff, volunteers, participants and spectators. Consider carefully the space available for temporary facilities and services. You will need to think about the following:
Whilst you should encourage your participants to reduce their use of private cars by using alternative transport or car sharing, this is not always practical. Issues of poor public transport links to rural areas and the need to carry large amounts of equipment for the event often make private car use necessary.
Make sure there is sufficient car parking for private cars. In line with car parking guidance for sports and leisure facilities, it is recommended to provide a car parking space for every 3 participants. Ask if any participants are planning on arriving by coach or alternative transport means so you can set aside designated parking areas.
Car parking facilities should be well organised and use durable surfaces. You should try to reduce the impact of parking on verges and open grass. However, if this is unavoidable, ensure protective measures are in place and, where necessary, restorative works are carried out to a standard agreed with land managers.
If on-road parking is required make sure it is done safely and is well stewarded, with particular regard to ensuring that entrances to properties and fields are not blocked. Many access problems arise from inconsiderate parking by recreational visitors. Remember that land management operations take place at the weekends and farm machinery and emergency services may need wide spaces to access property.
Having your start/finish area located within a public car park at a pre existing recreation facility (forest park, yacht club, leisure centre) where toilets and changing rooms are located will minimise the need to provide temporary facilities, thus reducing the cost and impact of the event. However, where these do not exist or are insufficient, you will need to provide additional facilities depending on the number of participants taking part in the event.
If your event does not provide toilet facilities, it may help to provide information to your participants on where to go in the great outdoors: for further information, view the ‘Where to go in the Outdoors' code.
Waste management can become an issue when there are insufficient or inadequate facilities for disposal. Provision of waste management facilities is most important at the start/finish areas, spectator points, feed stations and rest stops. Think about reducing waste to landfill by providing recycling and composting facilities. It is useful to assign staff or volunteers the task of managing litter collection and spreading the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ethos.
Catering facilities are not always an essential part of an outdoor recreation event as most participants will bring their own food. However, if you are likely to expect a large number of participants and spectators as part of an all day event, catering facilities may be a welcome addition and even an extra source of revenue.
If your venue does not have its own cafe or restaurant, you may wish to provide outside caterers. Either way, work with the caterer to decide food requirements based on your expected numbers in order to avoid waste. Think about getting your caterers to agree to reduce food waste and/or donate leftover food to food banks, as well as provide sustainable, seasonal, locally sourced food and produce where possible. You may be required to apply for a licence from the local council to provide catering facilities at your event. In addition, it is important to ensure that catering providers have the relevant hygiene certificates.
When deciding on what to provide at rest stops for your participants think carefully about waste generation and resource use; consider providing tap water from large water containers as an alternative to bottled water, provide fruit and/or bowls of sweets for participants to grab instead of energy bars, gels and other individually packaged items.
You may wish to provide facilities for those wanting to camp overnight before and after the event. Be aware that this will put pressure on venue space for camping and associated facilities.
If you are organising an event such as a triathlon or an adventure race where warm up and transition areas are required, consider how much space will be needed and how these areas will be demarcated, as well as stewarding requirements for safety and security.
If you are expecting a large number of participants and spectators, you may wish to provide entertainment such as music, stalls and fairground rides. Think about space and how these will impact the local area through noise from PA Systems, generators and additional traffic. Be aware that some local councils will require an entertainments licence, applied for in advance of the event taking place – this also applies should you wish to sell alcohol.
This project is funded by Sport Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and is supported by Mourne Heritage Trust, Leave No Trace, National Trust, Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership Scheme, Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership and Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust.