Show cover of Head Start

Head Start

Head Start is a podcast for race directors and anyone involved in the business of putting on races. It doesn't matter where you're based or how many years experience you have or whether you're putting on a running race, a triathlon, an obstacle race or whatever. If you’ve got an interest in planning, organizing and growing endurance events, this is the podcast for you.The focus of the podcast is twofold: 1) we bring you the latest and coolest innovations hitting the mass-participation endurance events industry, and 2) we bring you tips and actionable advice from industry experts to help you improve your race - one episode at a time.Head Start is produced by RaceDirectorsHQ.com, an online resource platform and community network for race directors and race management professionals.

Tracks

Race Insurance
If there’s one thing you can’t have enough of as a race director, it’s race insurance. Particularly - knock on wood - when the unexpected happens and you’re faced with a dreaded lawsuit that threatens to take away your livelihood and your piece of mind. So how can you best protect yourself and your business from the risks associated with putting on a race? What will your standard event liability policy cover? What does it exclude? And how should you expect to be protected against legal and medical claims should your race be held liable for a participant injury or loss of property?That’s what we’re discussing today with my guest, Nicholas Hill Group partner and event insurance veteran, Nathan Nicholas. Through Nicholas Hill Group, Nathan has helped develop some of the most robust and widely-used specialist insurance policies for the endurance events industry, and with his help we’ll try to understand where the boundaries of liability insurance protection lie for you, the event organizer; how event liability insurance ties in with other types of business insurance you may be buying; how the type of race you put on affects the cost and availability of insurance cover you might find in the market; and how the diligent use of participant waivers and incident documentation can help reduce the risk of frivolous lawsuits being filed against you.In this episode:Event liability insurance: what it is and what kinds of contingencies it coversHow event liability insurance differs from Business Owner's Policies (BOPs) and other types of general business insuranceWill an event liability policy cover me for event-related work outside of race day?Will an event liability policy cover volunteers, spectators and third-party vendors on site on race day?Negligence and gross negligence in the context of liability insurance.Understanding an event liability policy: deductibles, claim limits, additional insured's. Getting insurance for obstacle races, ultramarathons, night races, races serving alcohol.Liability waivers: do they work?What to do (and not to do) when sued for liability by a participant or other party.How are your legal costs covered in the event of a lawsuit? Will you have to pay out of pocket?Does a virtual race need liability insurance?Race cancellation insurance: what it is and what it coversWill a race cancellation insurance policy cover the costs of postponing instead of cancelling a race?Many thanks to our podcast sponsors, RunSignup and Brooksee, for supporting our efforts to provide great, free content to the race director community:RunSignup are the leading all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events. More than 26,000 events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. Find out more at https://runsignup.com/.Brooksee are the timing technology industry-leader, bringing affordable real-time tracking and timing checkpoints to races with their patented iPhone-sized micro checkpoints. Find out more and get 50% off your timing for your next event at https://www.brooksee.com/headstart.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about event sustainability, zero waste or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
86:18 6/10/24
Crisis Communications
When doors start dropping off planes mid-air or your favorite online retailer gets in touch to let you know your personal details may have been compromised, it’s tempting to think you may have done a better job handling that crisis were you in their shoes. But how well-prepared are you really to manage the many crises that can come up during the planning and delivery of your race? Anything from a late delivery of medals or an unfortunate slip-up on social media to a full blown race cancellation. That’s what we’re discussing today with my guest, PR pro Meg Treat of Treat Public Relations. Meg has been on the podcast before, discussing DIY PR strategies for race directors, and in today’s episode she joins me once more to discuss crisis communications, that is, what you should and shouldn’t do when a crisis hits. How early should you look to communicate the situation to your participants and stakeholders? How should you go about doing it? And is the much-revered total transparency approach your best bet out of a tricky spot?In this episode:Crises big and small: what constitutes a crisis?Are social media making crises worse and more frequent?Navigating safely around the culture war minefieldsTo comment or not to comment: does acknowledging a crisis make it worse? Getting ahead of a crisis: how early should you start communicating about a potential crisis?Turning a crisis into an opportunityAre there lesser or "almost" crises you can ignore?Balancing financial loss against reputation loss in a race cancellationThe importance of a well-thought-out refund policyShowing empathy towards your participants when something goes wrong that may affect their raceTaking ownership gracefully and staying out of the blame gameWriting a crisis communications planThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
76:22 4/22/24
Race Trends 2023
It’s that time of the year again. RunSignup’s annual RaceTrends report is out for 2023, and it’s larger and more comprehensive than ever before!Among the most notable trends highlighted in the report we see registrations for 2023 races up from 2022 and tantalisingly close to 2019 levels, entry fees continuing to climb across most race distances and event types, and encouraging trends in younger runner participation first seen in 2022 carrying through to 2023 numbers.With me today to go through the data, the trends and their implications, I’m delighted to welcome back to the podcast RunSignup’s Director of Marketing, Johanna Goode. Among other things, Johanna is the person we all have to thank for compiling this invaluable piece of industry research each year, and with her help we’ll try to get a feel for where the industry ended up in 2023 and make sense of what the future might hold for race directors in 2024 and beyond. As with RaceTrends reports we’ve looked at in the past in the podcast, we’ll only have time to go through the most important highlights from the report, so if you’d like to get your hands on the full set of findings, head over to runsignup.com where you’ll be able to find and download your free report copy. In this episode:The methodology and data behind RunSignup's RaceTrends reportAre we back to 2019 registration levels?Are race timing companies disappearing?Repeat participation numbers across different events and how to increase repeat participation in your racesThe importance of integrated email marketing Why are larger races continuing to lag behind smaller races in participation growth?Are virtual events still around?Participation trends in the 18-29 age group and how to foster higher participation among younger runnersAre people registering later than they used to?Entry fees are going up, while the number of price increases is going downThe rise of mobile registrations and how to optimise your race website for mobile usersThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
65:52 3/5/24
Instagram & Influencer Marketing
With more than 2 billion monthly active users (MAUs), Instagram has secured a comfortable lead as the social media platform of choice for the vast majority of online-active almost-30s and 30-somethings out there. And with Instagram’s core audience slowly aging to match running’s demographic sweet spot, it’s really important your race gets its Instagram strategy right soon, if you have an Instagram strategy at all.So, how do you master Instagram’s highly-visual storytelling to reach new audiences on the platform? How do you build a consistent brand voice with all the tools Instagram has to offer? And how do you leverage running influencers, user-generated content, freelance contractors and free-to-use graphical design tools to make the most of the limited time and money you can commit to the platform?That’s what we’ll be discussing today with returning guest and resident race marketing expert, Andy Reilly. Through his race marketing agency, Eventgrow, Andy has planned and executed online marketing strategies for some of the country’s top running events, including the Buffalo Marathon, Run Catalina and the San Francisco Marathon, and in his past appearances on the podcast has contributed to some of our most popular episodes, most recently a Facebook marketing two-parter that is a must listen if your race is doing anything on Facebook. But, today it’s all about Instagram, and with Andy’s help we’re going to be looking at Instagram from the very high level of strategy and using Instagram alongside Facebook and your other marketing channels, all the way down to the nitty-gritty of image selection, contrast plays, picking catchy headlines and even what types of faces work best on an Instagram ad. Not to mention a very practical 101 crash course on using microinfluencers to extend your brand reach.In this episode:The evolution of Instagram audience demographics over the yearsInstagram vs Facebook from a user perspectiveEasy-win content ideas for starting out on InstagramIncluding (or excluding) Instagram placements on ad managerThe most efficient way to pick copy/images for your Instagram adWriting copy that works and picking the right creativesPicking images that work: leveraging contrast, choosing happy faces, hero imagesThinking through your Instagram ad funnel, CTAsWorking with freelancers and contract graphic designersPlanning your growth path and spending money on marketingThe importance of using Instagram filters consistently and aligning your style with your brandDriving engagement through humorSharing user-generated contentMicroinfluencers: what are they, where to find them, and what to offer themUsing microinfluencers to generate authentic, engaging content for your raceAssessing ROI for your microinfluencer spendThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
81:29 2/6/24
Designing a Race Course
As a race director, few things in the race planning lifecycle can be as exciting and enjoyable as designing a brand new race course. From picking a start area to mapping out race distances and figuring out where to place amenities, such as aid stations, race course design constitutes an important first step in shaping your race’s identity - one that will likely affect all aspects of your race experience, safety planning and logistics for years to come.So, how do you nail this critical first step in making your race a reality? How do you design a course that is as enjoyable for participants on the main stage, as it is safe, practical and easily accessible for you, your team and emergency services behind the scenes?That’s what we’ll be discussing today with my guest, DMSE Sports’ Director of Events, Meryl Leventon. As industry people go, Meryl’s a Swiss army knife when it comes to race planning and race day ops, and with tons of experience and a plethora of events under her belt, Meryl will help lay out for us the most important principles of effective race course design, from designing for speed and a great race experience to delivering a course that respects host communities and works well in emergencies, should things happen to go wrong around the race.In this episode:Deciding on a type of course: know your town, know your marketWorking with local authorities on approving your coursePicking and planning out your start/finish areasDesigning your course for a specific distanceWhen you should (and needn't) certify your courseHow to combine different race distances on the same course (and how to think about start times)Fixing course bottlenecks with a good wave start planResponsible course planning: communicating with and minimizing disruption for local communitiesPublishing race day road closures through Google Maps, TomTom and other popular mapping sourcesIncorporating spectator zones in your course planDesigning for safety: emergency planning, access lanes and coordinating with emergency servicesLaying out alternate course contingencies in case of weather disruptionDesigning your course on Google MapsMeryl's lululemon 10K Scottsdale Google Map:Public version: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1Ousob6UVaQdHUBuUDL6tByBZfwdPx_A&usp=sharing City, police and internal team version: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1M9T2BNTHaEo-6JIMmRZkgjuXlXfwx6g&usp=sharingThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
74:25 12/12/23
Building a Race Series
Building a race from the ground up, as anyone who’s done it will know, is a tough business. But what about planning, coordinating and growing a whole series of races, all with a common theme and brand identity? How do you finance and grow multiple races from scratch? How do you choose when and where to launch a new race? And how can you make use of local delivery partners to deliver new races on a budget, while ensuring your quality standards and vision are adhered to?That’s what we’ll be discussing today with my guest Sam Heward. As the co-founder of Ultra X, the multi-stage ultraramathon world series, Sam has been at the forefront of one of the fastest-growing race series concepts of the last few years, and with his help we’re going to be taking a deep dive into the benefits and challenges of setting up a race series from scratch, including the constant strive for brand consistency, the process of cross-pollinating ideas and small successes between events, and some of the difficulties of coordinating equipment, staff and sponsorship sales across multiple event locations.In this episode:Spotting gaps in the endurance event marketPutting together a business plan and testing the watersDeveloping a brand that matches the race series' values and mission, and sets it up for long-term successFinding your race series' unique selling proposition in a crowded marketGrowing a race series through repeat participationEngaging with your audience through multiple channels year-roundOutsourcing event planning and operations to local event delivery partners Using registration fees to bootstrap growthLearning and iterating faster with multiple similar events around the yearThe challenges of negotiating series-wide sponsors across multiple regionsThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
79:22 11/8/23
Spotlight: Hood to Coast
First run on a whim in 1982 by Oregon Road Runners Club president Bob Foote with only 8 teams participating in the inaugural race, Hood to Coast has grown from modest beginnings to become a huge success story. More than 40 years on, the race that has come to be known affectionately as “the mother of all relays” now attracts more than a thousand teams from over 40 countries to what is one of the most spectacular 200 mile courses from the top of Mt Hood to the Pacific Ocean. So what’s the secret sauce? What is it about this race being able to sell out for the last 30 of its 40 odd race editions? And how is it even possible to pull off recruiting 3,600 volunteers, let alone training and managing them to a tee year in, year out with a core team of just a handful of people?That’s what we’ll be digging into today with the help of my guest, Hood to Coast race director, Felicia Hubber. Felicia, being the daughter of the man who started it all and the person driving Hood to Coast’s expansion both domestically and overseas, has literally grown alongside Hood to Coast, having been born the same year as the inaugural event, and she’ll walk us through what makes Hood to Coast so special in the eyes of the thousands of people taking part, the appeal of the mountain-to-sea race concept, the mind-boggling complexities of putting on a relay race at this size, and Hood to Coast’s unique approach to volunteer recruitment and training.In this episode:The humble beginnings of the mother of all relaysHood to coast: 200 miles from the top of Mt Hood to the world's largest beach party in 36 hoursThe complexities of relay eventsTeam-building at relays: reunions, families, military and corporate teamsEnforcing HTC's many strict race rulesManaging 3,600 volunteers along a 200 mile courseHTC's unorthodox approach to volunteer recruitment: requiring local teams to provide 3 volunteers each to qualifyStreamlining volunteer training via online video training coursesThe economics of relay racing for race organizersTransitioning HTC to a B CorpExporting the mountain-to-sea concept overseas: HTC's international expansionThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
79:55 10/16/23
Supporting Female Athletes
Racing has come a long way since the days when women were being told that running the marathon would cause your uterus to fall out. And with women now making up 54% of all race registrations in the US, according to RunSignup’s 2022 RaceTrends report, you’d think there’d be very little holding women back from racing in this third decade of the 21st century.That, however, is not the reality for most women out there, according to today’s guest, SheRACES founder and GB team ultrarunner, Sophie Power. Whether it’s images of uniformly male start lines, lack of reasonable pregnancy deferral policies or unnecessarily aggressive race cut-off times, races still - knowingly or unknowingly - put up more visible and invisible barriers for female athletes than they should - or realize. And that means fewer women at start lines, fewer women signing up for races and fewer women thinking they belong in the world of endurance sports racing. So what are those barriers holding women back and what can race directors do to remove them?Well, the good news is we have a fairly good grasp of the former and some very easy fixes for the latter that in many cases require only a little thoughtfulness and little to no extra cost. Things like providing basic sanitary products for female athletes at toilet facilities and aid stations or trying harder to give female competitions the attention they deserve and female race finishers the properly fitting finisher shirt they have paid for. Simple things, in other words, that when implemented and communicated right can make female athletes feel more comfortable and more welcome in races.In this episode:Why inclusivity is good for businessThe importance of using inclusive race imageryHow the wrong marketing copy/language can alienate participantsThe effect of tight mid-course time cutoffs on slower runner participationUsing cut-off pace instead of cut-off time in race communications Thinking harder about toilet facilitiesShould race directors make sanitary products available on race day?Offering female-fit finisher shirtsWhy a lack of a pregnancy deferral policy is stopping women from signing up for your raceCould races be offering childcare support for athletes on race day?Calling out verbal and sexual harassment in racingSetting out race etiquette and a clear anti-harassment policyThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
96:37 9/19/23
Spotlight: Boulderthon
Nestled in a valley in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder, CO, is often referred to as the fitness capital of the US. So it was a bit surprising to Phil Dumontet, a young East Coast entrepreneur moving to Boulder in 2017 to launch his smoothie bar business, to realize that Boulder, in all its glorious outdoorsy-ness and obsession with fitness, lacked a first-rate city marathon.For most people, that would have been just a passing thought. But not to Phil, who made giving Boulder the downtown marathon it deserves a personal passion project.Fast forward a few years and a pandemic later, and Boulderthon, as the race got to be called, has grown into Colorado’s largest fall race series. And today, with Phil’s help, we’ll be tracing Boulderthon’s remarkable growth journey, looking at the decisions and tactics that got it to where it is today, including the deliberate effort that went into creating alliances with local businesses and the local community, the insistence on including a marketing component to all partnership agreements with sponsors and external stakeholders, and Phil’s unrelenting focus on tracking ROI across the entirety of the event’s marketing spend, from online campaigns and podcast ads to distributing flyers and working with running influencers. In this episode:Identifying opportunities in an over-saturated running event marketPlanning an inaugural event during the pandemicThe importance of sustainable growth: capping participant numbers to preserve event quality and race experienceWinning over the city, businesses and the local community Managing the disruption of bringing a marathon to Boulder's busy downtownRace marketing 101: starting with the product and leaning into your race's unique strengthsUsing runner feedback to hone your race experience and marketing message"Be where your runners are": promoting your race online and offlineUsing coupons and dedicated registration links to measure ROI in grassroots marketingLaying out year-round marketing campaigns on a marketing calendarSeeking out and structuring win-win partnerships with local businesses, from gyms to cocktail barsCross-marketing: the secret ingredient in cash and in-kind sponsorshipsAdvertising on running podcasts and partnering with running micro-influencersMaking the case for race announcersIncluding man-hours in your marketing campaign ROIAttracting volunteer groups with branded aid stationsThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
80:55 8/23/23
The 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing
On April 15, 2013, two homemade bombs planted by brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tarnaev exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. In the devastation that ensued, three innocent people lost their lives, while 281 others were injured, in what was, and still remains, the biggest ever terrorist incident suffered by a mass-participation sporting event.In the midst of all this, Boston Marathon race director, Dave McGillivray, and his team, working alongside emergency services, had to deal with a situation never before encountered by a race management team, while working under huge stress and personal risk to help runners with very little concrete information to go on on what had happened and what might be around the corner.Today with Dave’s help, we’re going to be revisiting those remarkable events that took place 10 years ago that brought the horrors of terrorism into endurance events and forever changed the security protocols major mass-participation races around the globe have had to contend with ever since. We’re going to be going over the dramatic minutes and hours following the bomb explosions at the 2013 Boston Marathon, the response of the race management team, lessons learned from dealing with uncertainty when every second counts, as well as look at the aftermath of those events on security measures for the 2014 race and other races around the world, the impact these measures have had on race experience, and the legacy of the 2013 bombings on Boston Marathon and beyond.In this episode:The amazing story of the Boston Marathon, the world's oldest annual marathonContingency planning and emergency protocols prior to 2013The calm before the storm: going into the 2013 event in an upbeat mood following a near-canceled 2012 raceScrambling for answers and loved ones after the bombs went offSetting priorities in the immediate aftermath of the bombingStopping the race and redirecting runnersWorking alongside and coordinating with emergency services The importance of team training, planning and efficient communication in handling unforeseen emergencies Improvising in the face of uncertaintyThe impact of the bombing on runners, race staff and the city of BostonIncreasing security measures at the aftermath of the 2013 raceThe effect of additional security measures on the race experience, race banditingThe legacy of the 2013 bombing on event operations and the "new normal"Links:Boston Athletic Association - https://www.baa.org/ DMSE Sports - https://www.dmsesports.com/Dave McGillivray Finish Strong Foundation - https://www.davemcgillivrayfoundation.org/Thanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about this episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
100:49 8/1/23
Sponsorship Proposals
If you’ve done the hard work of prospecting and soliciting sponsors, and got some of your prospects to engage with you, you may be forgiven in thinking your job is done. Actually, that’s where the real work begins - understanding your sponsor’s needs and closing the deal with a sponsorship proposal that hits all the right notes. So, how do you get into your sponsor’s head? How do you put together a sponsorship proposal that clicks with them, while maximizing the value you get out of a potential deal? And how do you gather clues on what a sponsor might be willing to pay, before you actually submit your proposal to them?That’s what we’ll be discussing today with returning guest, Green Cactus CEO, Teresa Stas. It’s a pleasure to have Teresa back on the podcast after our very popular chat back in episode 40 last September on finding and approaching sponsors, and today we’re taking the next step on the sponsorship sales journey to look at the challenges and secrets behind researching, preparing and delivering a winning sponsorship proposal. Among other things, we’re going to be looking at the all important discovery session, where you get to spend time understanding the sponsor’s needs before submitting your proposal, as well as some very useful tips on efficiently drafting customized proposals, and navigating the negotiations that hopefully will get to follow your proposal submission. In this episode:The importance of holding a discovery meeting with sponsors before sending out a proposalPreparing for your sponsor discovery meetingWhat questions to ask during the discovery meetingGetting a feel for a sponsor's budget expectations Easily customizing sponsorship proposals The layout of a comprehensive sponsorship proposalDealing with sponsor radio silence and/or rejectionNegotiating sponsorship feesDrafting a robust sponsorship agreementUsing sponsorship brokersThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about sponsorship proposals or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
93:11 7/12/23
Race Merchandise
Selling merchandise is a great way to increase brand loyalty for participants outside race day, and, of course, a very good way to increase revenue from your event.So, how do you get started selling race merchandise, both online, on packet pickup and on race day? How do you pick and test merchandise items that sell? And, very importantly, how do you manage inventory well to maximize sales while minimizing the risk of costly leftover items?That’s what we’re going to be discussing today with my guest, Greelayer apparel President, and merchandising expert, Kim Bilancio. Kim has spent decades in the race apparel industry, where, among other things, she has been running the race merchandise programs for Hood to Coast and other prestigious events up and down the country. And today Kim will be helping us get a feel for what race merchandising is, how it works, what types of events it is (and isn’t) best suited for, and how, when implemented right, it can help increase your race’s revenue, while giving your participants a piece of your race to keep, cherish and showcase year-round. In this episode:What race merchandising can do for your eventOn-site (race day, packet pickup) vs online (registration flow, website) merchandise salesStarting out selling race merchandise as part of your registration flowOutsourcing merchandise sales to an apparel vendor vs doing it in-houseHow small things like weather can affect merchandise salesGuesstimating apparel sizes to order from past data and registration trendsWhat types of races merchandising is (and isn't) well suited forWorking on a commission vs flat-rate basis with merchandise vendorsChoosing where to set up your merch store on packet pickup and race dayChoosing products to sell in your merch storePicking shirt styles and qualities for your store that work alongside your finisher shirtThe tech shirt vs tri blend debateIncluding non-wearables in your merch offeringIncluding cycling kits and other specialized merch for multisport eventsPrinting items on-demand for registration flow merch storesShipping merch to participants pre-race dayThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about race merchandising, growing your race's revenue or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
61:47 6/26/23
Race Medical Planning
From the minute the first participant shows up on race day till the time the last one leaves, responsibility for the wellbeing of everyone on and around your race course rests with you - the race director.So, how can you make sure your medical preparations are up to scratch? How do you figure out how many - and what type - of resources to dedicate to your race? And where does your duty of care as the race organizer towards your participants even begin and end, practically, legally and morally?That is what we’ll be discussing today with my guest, Natasha Beach. Besides being the medical director for such prestigious events and organizations as the Manchester Marathon, London Triathlon and Cancer Research UK, Natasha runs her own multi-award-winning event medical cover company, SportsMedics, as well as heading some of the most high-profile efforts to formalize race medical planning in the UK through her positions as Chief Medical Officer of England Athletics and medical advisor to UK Athletics. In this episode:Understanding the stress the human body goes through during a raceWhy men are at a higher risk of suffering a medical incident during a race than womenHow speed, herd mentality and participant excitement make everything worse on race dayHow the incidence of specific medical issues evolves over the duration of a raceDuty of care: what is expected of you as the race directorThe pitfalls of relying on public medical resourcesDoctors vs nurses vs paramedics vs first-aiders: what's the difference?Using in-house stuff and volunteers as your first-aid team on race dayVetting third-party first-aid cover providers and medical companiesWorking out how many and what types of medical resources you'll needSharing your race medical plan with emergency servicesCollecting medical history notes from participants to use in case of an emergencyRequiring mandatory participant medical certificates: do they help?Recording race-day medical incidents and compiling a post-race medical reportIf you are based in the UK, you can sign Natasha's petition on extending regulation of health services to medical services at events here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/633938  Thanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about medical, risk and contingency planning or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
89:41 6/12/23
The Business of Trail & Ultra Races
If you’ve been following our industry updates on race and participation growth, you may have picked up on the fact that trail running, and trail races, have been doing particularly well over the last few years. In fact, trail racing seems to be one of the few spots within racing still growing at a healthy enough rate as other areas in racing are stagnating or slowly falling behind.So, what is fueling trail racing’s amazing growth? How different are trail races to organize, promote and grow compared to your typical road race? And, despite the robust growth, what challenges, if any, does trail racing face as it matures into a more popular sport? With me today to cover this very interesting ground is veteran trail runner, trail racer and trail race director, John Lacroix. Through his Colorado-based Human Potential Running Series, John has been at the helm of dozens of trail and ultra races through the years, and with his help we’re going to be taking a look at all aspects of the trail racing business, from the culture and community that has been at the core of the sport’s success to the nitty-gritty everyday details trail race directors have to contend with in operations, course maintenance and marking, and, of course, safety management.In this episode:The appeal of trail racingImproving diversity and inclusivity in trail and ultra runningIs ultra running's inability to attract younger participants spelling trouble down the line?The lack of dedicated educational materials and accreditation for trail race directorsThe complexities (and costs) of obtaining permits for a trail/ultra raceThe challenge of finding and attracting volunteersMarking a trail/ultra running course (hint: it's not for the faint-hearted!)Managing risk and keeping participants safe in a trail raceThe economics of trail and ultra racesThe reality of attracting sponsorship dollars in trail racesMarketing trail races: word of mouth, social media, race calendars, event cross-promotionsRace director collaboration in trail racingThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about the business of trail and ultra races or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
103:07 5/29/23
Mastering Social Media
Over the last decade or so, lots has changed in the social media landscape. Facebook has gone from exciting upstart to the mature granddaddy of social media, Instagram has grown by leaps and bounds to become the platform of choice for visually engaging content, and TikTok has emerged as the new contender in the battle for social media supremacy, favored mostly by younger audiences, looking for the next cool and exciting network to join.So, how should your organic social media presence adapt to this ever-changing landscape? Should you still be spending time on Facebook? Should you be switching to an Instagram-first mentality? And what kinds of content should you post? How often? And with what purpose?This and many many other questions is what we’ll be discussing today with the help of my guests, digital marketing pros Leigha Pindroh of Pittsburgh Marathon organizers P3R and Alex Ross of the Denver Colfax Marathon. With tons of practical experience between them, Leigha and Alex are here to take us from high-level social media strategy all the way down to your everyday content writing tactics, including tips on managing your content schedule, mixing up value posts with marketing content, leveraging user-generated content, as well some off-the-beaten-track stuff you may not even be thinking about, like using LinkedIn to tap into your local corporate wellness market. In this episode:Is organic social media reach dead?Understanding the effectiveness of your social media posts/campaignsThe most effective social media platforms for races: Facebook, InstagramThe challenges of making it on TikTokPromoting your race to local businesses and corporates through LinkedInEngaging with your audience with Stories, Reels, pollsTypes of content to put out through your social mediaThe 80:20 rule: posting 80% value posts (entertainment, education etc), 20% sales postsLeveraging user-generated stories and other contentHashtags, emojis: where to use and howDesigning content with an Instagram-first mentalityPlanning your social media content scheduleProductivity tools: Hootsuite, Canva, Facebook Publishing toolsThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about social media, digital marketing or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
91:59 5/15/23
Hiccup: Reusable Water Cups
In a number of our past podcasts, we’ve touched on the issue of race waste - and specifically a particularly significant and persistent part of that issue which is water cup waste.In an ideal world - or shall I say in a trail running world - we’d all love to put on cupless races, where racers themselves are responsible for bringing along their own water containers to the race. But, unfortunately, that high standard may be a little ways off still for the majority of road running and multisport races out there. So what can we do to take some of the strain of water cup waste off of our industry?One approach, coming out of Florida-based company Hiccup is reusable water cups, that is, durable cups that are collected, professionally sanitized and reused between races. And today I have the great pleasure of talking to the person at the forefront of that movement, Hiccup owner Kristina Smithe.Kristina started Hiccup in 2019 through her frustration with the rate at which water cups were being consumed in races, and has since had her Hiccup silicon cups used in such great events as Grandma’s Marathon, Rocket City Marathon and Around the Crown 10K. And she’ll be telling us today how the Hiccup service works, from delivery to collection, and how you could potentially bring Hiccup’s reusable water cups to your race next year.In this episode:How Hiccup's reusable cup service worksWhat races Hiccup is best (and less well) suited forSetting up Hiccup on race dayRunner's reviews of using HiccupsRecovering, sanitizing and reusing Hiccup's silicon cupsCompostable vs reusable cupsThe cost of bringing Hiccup to your raceThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about sustainability, reducing race waste or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
59:06 5/2/23
Spotlight: SBT GRVL
Gravel racing has been one of the fastest growing sectors in mass-participation sports over the last decade or so, particularly in the US, where high-profile races like UNBOUND Gravel, Rebecca’s Private Idaho and Belgian Waffle Ride have grown massively in popularity, attracting a broad range of both veteran and newcomer cyclists to the sport. It’s against this backdrop that in 2019 professional road racer Amy Charity launched her own gravel race around the ski resort town of Steamboat Springs, CO, where she then lived. As Forbes magazine put it, SBT GRVL went on to become a remarkable overnight success, selling out in just 9 minutes in its second year and becoming one of the best gravel racing experiences in the world. So what has been the secret to the race’s massive success? That’s what we’re here to find out with Amy’s help - and in the process learn a thing or two about the unstoppable sensation that is gravel racing. In this episode:An "overnight success": planning and launching SBT GRVL The importance of local infrastructure in supporting a world-class raceBuilding community relations and being a respectful "guest" in the local communityThe appeal and insane growth of US gravel racingRoad racing vs gravel racing vs mountain bikingHow inclusivity helped propel gravel racing's growthThe cost advantages/disadvantages of organizing a gravel race vs a road raceMaking SBT GRVL a more welcoming event for female athletes and newcomersIncluding a non-competitive e-bike category into the eventActivating sponsorships year-round through grassroots and team-building eventsOffering a VIP package/experience optionBringing the SBT GRVL brand to Europe with FNLD GRVLThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
93:46 4/17/23
Race Photos
Besides race medals and finisher shirts, the one experience item participants have come to expect from a race, particularly in this digital age, is a good set of professional race photos. And perhaps because of the cultural changes that have come with the digital age, the purpose of race photography within the endurance events business has been swinging back and forth between race photos as a secondary revenue stream vs race photos as a marketing tool. So, do you offer paid photos, as a means of boosting your current bottom line? Or do you give photos away for free, as a marketing investment aimed at higher participation growth in the future?This and other questions is what we’ll be discussing today with the help of my guests, race director, race consultant and general race-jack-of-all-trades Josh Reed of On Path Events, and professional race photographer John Kelly of John Kelly Photos. Among other things we’ll look at how modern race photography works, from snap to download, how you can work with your race photographer to create some really memorable shots for your participants, and, as mentioned earlier, we’re going to be looking at the various business models around race photography, how they’ve been trending lately, and which might be best suited for your event.In this episode:The difference between event promotional photos vs participant/race photosEnhancing the participant race experience through race photosWho buys race photos and whyThe cost of race photography for different types of eventsLooking at your course through the eyes of a race photographerPicking good spots to shoot fromCreating spectator areasWorking with your race photographerThe journey of a race photo: from shooting through sorting and tagging to being delivered to participantsIs delivering race photos fast important?Free participant photos: the argument for and againstTypical purchase rates for paid photos, and impression/download stats for free photosGetting sponsors involved in race photosThe future of race photographyThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about race photography or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
77:44 4/3/23
Engaging Local Media
If there’s one thing that often sets apart races that go on to do really well from others that struggle to gain traction in their community, it’s the ability of the former - and the inability of the latter - to engage with the non-race world. And nowhere is this more evident than the way in which events interact with local media. The truth of the matter is, very few people participate in races. And very few people outside of those who do care about anything race-specific a race has to say. So how can races hope to reach out to the broader public? What stories can they tell that are relevant to many more people than the ones who show up at the start line on race day? And how can you, armed with those stories, get out and pitch them to your local paper, radio or TV station?That is what we’ll be discussing today with my guest Race El Paso owner, Gabriela Gallegos. Gabriela is a triathlon race director, so it’s not totally unfair to describe her audience as a bit niche, by broad-appeal standards. Yet, Gabriela managed to make triathlon the talk of the town in El Paso, TX through a series of media engagements culminating in the live broadcast of her all-female Mighty Mujer triathlon by her local NBC affiliate, an achievement for which she was recently recognized with USA Triathlon’s annual Innovation Award. And today she’ll be helping us break down the art of engaging local media, from finding the story to pitching the people that matter.In this episode:Why developing a local media strategy mattersWhich kinds of stories get the local press excited (and which don't) Being deliberate about bringing out the stories in your eventHuman interest stories: what they are, and how to promote themWriting engaging press releases: the 5Ws + who cares?Beyond human interest stories: expert advice stories & op-edsMatching the tone and content of your story to your target press outletFinding the right press contact and pitching your story to the press Media alerts and monitoring online mediaWorking with TV stations on live race coverageThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about engaging local media or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
84:00 3/20/23
Building a Race Budget
Whether you’re putting on races through a for-profit or a nonprofit organization, having a good grasp of your race budget can often make the difference between a profitable bottom line and days of post-race head-scratching about what went wrong to land you in the red. Admittedly, building and maintaining a race budget is not a lot of fun - not to most people, anyway - but it is something that has to be done, and has to be done right. So to help us understand what “right” looks like for a race budget, I’ve got the pleasure of being joined in the podcast today by SRSE Sports’ Sean Ryan. Sean has been a veteran of the industry with almost 20 years of experience in race directing, marketing, operations and financial planning, and was once hailed as “the most overeducated race director” in the industry, holding an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. And today he’ll be helping us understand the value of good budgeting practices, how to put together a transparent and practically useful race budget, as well as sharing his thoughts on managing budget shortfalls and juggling the complexities of cost cutting while trying to maintain a quality race experience. In this episode:Why putting on races is a capital intensive exercise that requires sound budgetingWhere most race budgets fail: over-exuberance and erroneous assumptionsThe importance of keeping an updated working copy of your budget at all timesTop line revenue vs bottom line revenue vs gross profit vs operating profit vs net profitOrganizing expenses by category: administrative, operating, marketingFixed vs variable expenses, and why fixed expenses can break your budgetWhat you should aim for for a healthy bottom-line profitThe perils of underspending on marketingHow to build a budget from the ground upCalculating your budget breakeven pointManaging budget shortfallsTransparent vs non-transparent cost cuts, and why, if you have to cut costs, you need to start with the latterYou can raise prices or reduce quality, but you should not try to do bothHow to treat donations and in-kind sponsorship on your budgetThe true cost of race volunteersThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about race budgeting or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
85:18 3/6/23
Race Trends 2022
When you want to know what’s happening and trending in the endurance events industry by the numbers, where do you turn to? Well, for me and many people I know, the definitive source of event data for the industry is, and has been for some time, RunSignup’s annual RaceTrends report. The report leverages RunSignup’s extensive registration data from tens of thousands of events to point to trends in overall event participation, event pricing, participant demographics, registration trends and a myriad other things. The most recent edition of the report was out a couple of weeks ago, and, despite a weak start to 2022, the data does seem to suggest that the post-pandemic industry recovery is picking up pace with some races recovering better than others and noticeable entry fee increases across the board on all race distances and disciplines.With me today to discuss the numbers, the trends and their implications for individual events and the industry as a whole, I’m delighted to have RunSignup’s own Bob Bickel and Johanna Goode. Bob and Johanna will be helping me make sense of some of the more interesting data points in the report and offer their own takes on what the numbers might be telling us for where the industry could be heading in 2023 and beyond.In this episode:A few words about the RunSignup Roadshow 2022 overall registrations compared to 2021 and 2019The outlook for registrations in 2023Why registrations growth for larger events underperformed smaller races in 2022Event churn (=percentage of races that haven't returned in consecutive years) since 2019 and 2021Repeat participation trends, and why they matterVirtual race participation statsIncreasing inclusivity in races and making the most of the post-pandemic running boomAge group participation trends and Gen Z runnersWhen people register and how it's changed since the pandemicAre higher entry fees having an impact on participation numbers?Thanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about the numbers in today’s podcast, registration trends or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
69:59 2/20/23
Spotlight: HYROX
It isn’t every day that an entirely new mass participation racing concept emerges that can take the world by storm. But, that’s exactly what’s happened over the past few years with the rise of HYROX, a new racing format, combining functional fitness and endurance in an indoor mass participation race.Launched in Germany in 2017 by veteran multisport race organizer Christian Toetzke with the help of co-founder Moritz Fuerste and a select team of colleagues, HYROX has exploded in popularity to become the fastest growing mass participation fitness concept in the world. So what is HYROX? What makes it so special? How does it relate to other race formats out there like obstacle racing? And, how does the highly lucrative business of HYROX work? Well, we’re going to be going through all that and more today with the help of my guest, HYROX USA & UK Managing Director, Douglas Gremmen.In this episode:Combining fitness and endurance in coming up with the HYROX concept/formatThe history of fitness racing before HYROXBringing mass participation racing to gym goers (and giving gym goers something to train for)Rolling out HYROX in Europe, the US and the rest of the worldObstacle races vs HYROX: differences and similaritiesHYROX in the Olympics?Designing a scalable race format: making workouts accessible, safe, easy to monitor and easy to transport between venuesRace timing in a HYROX race (it's complicated!)Getting thousands of people around an indoor racing courseHow large can a HYROX race get?What it costs to enter a HYROX event (and what you get for it)Involving spectators in the HYROX race experienceGrowing HYROX internationally through franchiseesHYROX' gym partnerships driving growth and secondary revenueA look at HYROX' growing competitionThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about HYROX, the business of races or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
89:08 2/6/23
Scaling Up
When races grow from scratch, particularly as passion projects, there often comes a time where growth grinds to a halt. Participation seems to gradually plateau around a few hundred participants and any progress beyond that seems impossible. So, how do you break through this resistance point to grow a race from the hundreds to the thousands? What changes should you make to your team and event to take your growth to the next level? And how do you manage this next stage of growth while avoiding the pitfalls that come with growing too fast?That’s what we’ll be discussing today with my guest, Glass City Marathon race director, Clint McCormick. When it comes to systematically scaling up races, Clint has been there, done that and got the T-shirt, having grown the Glass City Marathon from a club race of a few hundred runners to a nationally recognised event of almost 10,000 runners, while increasing revenues for the race by over 20 times in the process. In our discussion today we are going to be touching on all the key elements for success in scaling up a race, including race branding and rebranding, building processes and systems for the long run, analyzing and reinventing your product offering to make it more appealing to sponsors, and using sponsorship to fuel your future growth. All this while putting safeguards in place to make sure you don’t grow too fast and get yourself into trouble.In this episode:Moving a race from volunteer staff to professional/paid staffUnderstanding your brand and rebranding your raceNurturing local runners from 5K through to longer-distance events Examining your race distance offering and culling/adding events accordinglyFueling growth through sponsorships, and building a product that sponsors wantTips on scaling up your teamThe pitfalls of growing too fastManaging growth sustainably by capping participant numbersInvesting in race ambassadors and other grassroots marketing programsIn-house marketing vs employing a marketing agencyThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about scaling up and the business of races or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
68:11 1/23/23
Cracking Gen Z Runners
In RunSignup’s latest RaceTrends report, registration data showed that less than 13% of race participants in 2021 races fell within the 18-30 age group - a number that used to be almost 18% as recently as 2017, and keeps on falling. So why is it that races fail to attract younger audiences? That’s what we’ll be exploring today with the help of my guest Pacers Running Marketing Director, Ryan Callahan. Ryan and the Pacers Running team recently pulled off the remarkable feat of getting more than 40% of their DC Half start line made up of 18-30 runners, and we’ll be going over a number of deliberate strategic and tactical decisions the team took to encourage participation within that younger demographic. Among other things, we’ll look at intentional branding and website design as a means of appealing to younger runners, and initiatives undertaken by the team in offline as well as online marketing to reach that target demographic. Today’s discussion probably doesn’t hold all the answers to this very complex challenge facing the industry, but there’s some very big clues in there about what races can do to improve their appeal among younger audiences.In this episode:Participation trends in the 18-30 age groupWhy the Gen Z problem is fixable, and some races are doing better than othersHow DC Half managed to attract 3 times more 18-30 runners than the US race averageThe making of the DC Half brandBeing intentional with your event choices: race name, logo, swag, website, course designWhy it's important to keep your race website clear of information clutterBeyond cliches: building a DC race from the perspective of a DC localChecking boxes vs being thoughtful about your race swag choicesOffline marketing strategies for reaching 18-30 runnersBuilding an engaging race brand on InstagramLeveraging community and grassroots efforts to reach your target audienceThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about branding, marketing or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
87:28 1/10/23
2022 Podcast Highlights
Today, we are going to be taking a trip down memory lane, looking at some of my favourite podcast highlights from the past year. It’s been an amazing year for Head Start - our second year on the air - and, as we head into 2023, I wanted to say how grateful we all are at Race Directors HQ for your support of the podcast and everything else we do. So thank you guys for continuing to tune in and for your kind words about the work we do here at Head Start.Of course, there’s a special thanks due to our awesome podcast sponsor RunSignup, so a big big festive year-end thank you to the amazing folks at Moorestown, NJ, helping us bring great content to the entire race directors community. This really wouldn’t have been possible with RunSignup’s support, and we’re very grateful to have such a great company on our side. If you are looking to make a fresh start with your event technology partner in 2023, there’s no better place to look than RunSignup, so make sure to check out all their awesome technology platform has to offer your race by visiting runsignup.com. You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
52:27 12/26/22
Spotlight: Around the Crown 10K
If you’ve been following the podcast for a while, you’ll know that what we try to do at Head Start is bring you actionable, expert advice you can learn from to grow and improve your race - hopefully, with a bit of entertainment on the side.Today marks the first episode in a new way of helping you on your race director journey. Spotlight is a new type of episode where we go inside some of the most innovative, best run races and race concepts to learn how the things we touch on in other episodes, like building a sponsorship portfolio, developing a grassroots marketing strategy or elevating the race experience, actually work in practice when executed by some of the brightest leaders in the industry. And in our first Spotlight episode, we travel to Charlotte, NC to see how race director Brian Mister has been re-imagining the urban 10K with his hugely successful Around the Crown 10K. In the short history of that event, Brian and his team have managed to build an event that is a masterclass in community engagement, practical inclusivity, sponsorship development and grassroots marketing. And I hope you’ll be as inspired by some of the initiatives undertaken by this amazing race as I have been getting to know more about it.In this episode:Putting on a race on the Charlotte inner beltwayDefining your mission statement - and staying true to it for the long runPractical inclusivity: making your start line look like your community ATC's First Timers Club, Pay What You Can, Stroller DivisionRunning a large paper-cupless road raceRethinking offline marketingEngaging a specialist marketing agency that understands runningThe importance of Public Relations (PR)Growing a diverse sponsorship portfolio Valuing in-kind sponsorshipsAuction-based marketing (made the term up, but it's an interesting concept)The future of ATC10KThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about public relations, earned media or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
109:03 12/12/22
[Bonus] Going Solar
It’s another bonus episode for you today, and as we were discussing reducing your race’s carbon footprint last week, this week’s episode falls quite neatly in the same area of sustainability and decarbonization. Today, I’m joined by race director, race timer and solar power enthusiast Lowell Ladd, of 2L Race Services, to talk about how you can switch your race day headquarters over to solar power, so that your entire race day operation runs on sun juice instead of diesel. We’re going to be looking at the stepping stones to building out a solar power setup, from getting started on a single solar generator to gradually building out a full-fledged mobile solar power station. And we’re going to be answering your questions on the feasibility, reliability and cost of such a setup when it comes to powering race day. In this episode:The benefits of switching to solar powerEnergy consumption by hardware, and what a solar-powered system could support, depending on sizeThe anatomy of a solar-powered setup: components, connectivity, outletsThe cost of building your DIY solar-based systemPanels: what to buy and how to scale upLi-based vs acid-based batteries: pros and consTaking care of, maintaining and upgrading your setupAdditional resources:Off-grid solar power resources: https://www.mobile-solarpower.com/DIY solar power forum: https://diysolarforum.com/Mobile Solar Power Made Easy (Book): https://www.amazon.com/Mobile-Solar-Power-Made-yourself/dp/1546567119/Thanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about setting up your race day mobile solar power system or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
43:37 12/5/22
Carbon Neutral Race Production
In a previous episode of the podcast with guest Brian Schmidt of P3R, we saw how it is possible for even a very large race like the Pittsburgh Marathon to achieve zero waste status - that is, the goal of diverting more than 90% of total race waste away from landfill. But what about carbon emissions? Is it equally feasible to aspire towards carbon neutrality, that is to say, putting on an event with net zero (or perhaps even negative) carbon footprint. Well, that’s what we’ll be discussing today with my guest Porter Bratten, owner of Washington-based Blackfish Ventures and a passionate practitioner of sustainability in all the races he puts on. We’re going to be looking at what makes up a race’s carbon footprint, how to formulate a practically achievable carbon mitigation strategy, and how carbon offsetting can help bridge the gap to carbon neutrality where further improvements in lowering carbon emissions may not always be possible. In this episode:What contributes to your race's carbon footprintDirect emissions, indirect emissions and purchased energyUnderstanding which emissions you can measure and controlEstimating your race's carbon footprintMaking participant carpooling workOffering a no-medal/no-shirt optionGreen electricity: what it is, how much it costs and how to get itInvolving your participants in your sustainability strategyHow carbon offsetting worksDoing due diligence on and selecting carbon offset projectsUsing carbon offsetting to offset participant travel and shipping emissionsAre participants wiling to pay a "sustainability premium" for greener races?Making the most of sustainability sponsorsThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about race sustainability or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
64:30 11/28/22
Designing Actionable Race Surveys
Most races only come around once a year. So when you’re working to improve a race for your participants, you’ve got precious few opportunities to receive feedback from them. How do you use those opportunities right? And what feedback should you look to gather from them?Well, my guest today, Laurel Park, has the unique privilege of being both a race director and a PhD in survey design, and has helped countless organizations develop effective surveys that leverage customer feedback to inform strategic decisions. As the President of the Ann Arbor Track Club, Laurel knows running and races inside out, and today she’ll help us understand how to craft an actionable race survey, how to maximize survey response rates, and how to avoid some of the common pitfalls of survey design, like asking things you shouldn’t care to know about or asking things you do care to know about in a way that delivers poor quality or unusable results.If you do send out a race survey after your event, or have thought of doing so, this is an excellent crash course in getting the most of the one shot you get each year to gather productive feedback from your participants.In this episode:The purpose of a race surveyWorking backwards from what you need to know to what you're going to askCollecting demographic information from respondentsDo people respond truthfully to surveys?Reducing survey friction and question bloatAvoiding distractions/cognitive load with clean survey stylingTypes of questions to ask and areas to explore with your race surveyAvoiding leading respondents with biased question phrasingUsing open-ended vs close-ended questionsBest practices for sharing your race surveyIncreasing survey response rates with incentivesSurvey software options for designing your race surveyAnalyzing and presenting survey resultsMany thanks to our podcast sponsors, RunSignup and Racecheck, for supporting our efforts to provide great, free content to the race director community:RunSignup are the leading all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. Find out more at https://runsignup.com/.Racecheck can help you collect and showcase your participant reviews on your race website, helping you more easily convert website visitors into paying participants, with the help of their Racecheck Review Box. Download yours for free today at https://organisers.racecheck.com/.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about designing race surveys or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
74:09 11/14/22
Starting Out as a Race Director
Looking into the business of putting on races from the outside, as a passionate runner and racer, you might be mistaken in thinking that putting on races is a fairly straightforward, relaxing, comfortably profitable thing to do. I can hear some of you chuckling there…Well, my guests today, brothers Jeremy and William Fermo, are exactly the type of passionate runner that would try to make a business out of directing races. Which is why in late 2021, they put aside their medical degrees and took the plunge into planning their first race, Shannon’s Run in Orange, Texas. Coming into race directing with few preconceptions, they tried everything to make their inaugural race a success - including an early round of crowdfunding for their business, 3 Bros Running, and a go at securing local business grants to support their revenue. The result? Not half bad - 366 signups from more than 40 cities across the state, and with that, a growing appetite for directing more and larger races.If you’re just starting out as a race director, there’s valuable lessons here for you on the challenges and the joys you’ve got ahead of you, and the importance of focusing your planning on the things that matter. And, if you’re well into your long-term career as a race director, there’s a couple of interesting gold nuggets here for you as well - and perhaps a little nostalgia about why you went into this really special business in the first place.In this episode:Taking the plunge into race directingThe importance of focusing on the race experienceLaunching a crowdfunding campaign to get the race off the groundGoing after local business grants Putting yourself front and center of your race brandTelling your race story through video on social mediaPromoting your race like it's a Hollywood movieReaching out and pitching to local sponsorsBig learnings from the guys' first year in race directingMany thanks to our podcast sponsors, RunSignup and Racecheck, for supporting our efforts to provide great, free content to the race director community:RunSignup are the leading all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. Find out more at https://runsignup.com/.Racecheck can help you collect and showcase your participant reviews on your race website, helping you more easily convert website visitors into paying participants, with the help of their Racecheck Review Box. Download yours for free today at https://organisers.racecheck.com/.You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about starting out in race directing or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.
81:36 10/31/22

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