Thursday, October 16, 2014

The RD: Final Commentary

This is it, the final post in this incredibly long series of posts on Race Directing. My goal with this series was to offer up my own perspective on race directing. To share what I've learned and to hopefully dispel a number of myths that exist out there. I'll let you figure out what those myths are or are not. But ultimately, jumping back into Race Directing has continued to teach me about the changes in resource management, and the changes in ultra running. In this final post, I'm wrapping this series up with some thoughts, opinions, comments, and what-have-yous. Again.. this is a personal blog. It's a place where I get to share my thoughts and opinions based on my own personal experiences, and gained knowledge over time. You may not agree with what you read here, and I'm OK with that. To each his own.. take it with a grain of salt I guess and remember.. we as Ultra Runners have been encouraged for a few years now to "Vote with our wallets."

Monday, October 13, 2014

The RD: So How Did It Go?

On September 6th I hosted the first official race of the Human Potential Running Series. As part of "The RD" series here on my blog, I wanted to give an honest recount of how the entire event went from beginning to end. Any good race director should be able to take a huge step back, post event, and look at every little thing they endured. They should be able to honestly view it, addressing what went well and what did not, then suggesting changes for the next year based on their own honest feedback. Race Directors should also be compelled to ask their runners for feedback. Whether that comes from in e-mail form, or via Survey Monkey.

Even though I have been involved in race directing for a number of years... (Co-Directed some Races in Vermont from 2007-2009, Directed the New England Ultras 50/100/200 Milers in 2008, and the HPRS Fat Ass Series here in Colorado) the race did not go off with a number of hiccups. There was a great deal that went well also, and at the end of the day I completed my goal. My goal was to direct a first year race that broke even or made money, and did not have the feeling of a first year event. We've all been to at least one first year horror story. This, was not one of them.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The RD: Bringing it all together

We've covered a lot in the previous 7 parts of this series on Race Directing, and you can find links to all of the previous postings at the bottom of this post. Again, this is just a synopsis of my experience in being a race director and I wanted to share the information because we as runners and constantly fed information that, well, just isn't entirely true. It is my hope that this post help dispel a number of myths and legends of Race Directing.

In this post, we're going to get right to it and bring it all together. You've made the decision to jump in, created a course, got your permits, purchased or borrowed most everything you need, incurred a huge amount of expenses, purchases insurance, shirts, obtained shwag and suckered volunteers to help. You event spent money on advertising and did what you could on a grass roots level to get the info out there. What else is there?! THE RACE!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Movie Review: "100: Head/Heart/Feet"

In 2013 I returned to Vermont to run in my 5th Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run. In the months leading up to the race, I had caught wind of a documentary film that was to be filmed during last years race. The film producers had caught wind of my upcoming 5th Vermont and asked if I wouldn't mind conducting an interview for the film on race weekend. I was happy to help with their project. A year later, I was sent a link to view the film privately. I sat on it for a week or two, then finally turned it on. In this post, I'm going to try and find the words to tell you what I saw and experienced in watching the final product.

Hammer & Saw Films is an independent film studio in New Hampshire, co-owned by Mike Mooney and Will Peters. First, these two are some pretty creative cats with wonderful personalities. The way they talk to you is enough to draw you in. Or maybe it's Mike's voice.. he sounds like a real life Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs, Deadliest Catch). They have created some short films in the past but this was to be their first feature length film. As a documentary film-maker myself, I could tell that these guys were operating on a different level right out of the gate.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The RD: Advertising

Before I sink too far into today's post.. I want to make sure I add the following preface. What I am sharing with you all in this sort of "expose" series on Race Directing, is my own personal experience in creating the Human Potential Running Series. The thoughts, opinions, facts, and facets that I have shared with you in the previous six parts is in no way a sweeping representation of what all race directors go through in directing their own races. This is merely a representation of what I've discovered, what I've gone through, and in a way.. I'm trying to debunk a number of myths that I know runners have bought into through the years. Ultimately, I'll let you come to your own conclusions.. but just know that, this is just my own personal experience.

In this post, I want to talk about advertising. We've already gone through discussing the motions of bringing your race to birth. Now what? Now, you need runners. So let's be honest.. if you're a virtual unknown in the community and are starting from scratch.. you have a long climb ahead of you. If you are active in the running community (and by active I mean: You show up to a lot of group runs, you talk with people, you blog, you run in a lot of races, you organize other smaller events..) then this is going to be a lot easier for you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The RD: Insurance, Shirts, Shwag, Volunteers

Throughout this series we have taken a closer look at what it takes to be a race director. We have explored how one comes to the decision to take on directing a race, we talked about course design, we talked about permits. Then we talked about the costs of building an infrastructure and a whole host of other expenses incurred by the RD. In this post, we're going to wrap this up by looking at some other final considerations such as insurance, shirts and other shwag. We'll also look at runner feedback. The final paragraph will be a short opinion piece on some things that I've experienced here in Colorado.

By now you should have come to the conclusion that being a race director is NOT an easy job and in general, is rather thankless. There is a lot that goes into putting on an event and ultimately, YOU as the RD are on the hook for everything. Think about that for a minute. If someone dies on your course or is seriously injured.. you're on the hook. A lot of RD's think that just because they've had their runners sign waivers, they are exempt from litigation and liability. NOT TRUE. Waivers hold up in court differently in different states. If you live in a state with Ski Resorts, you're protected pretty well with waivers. But in a state like Texas.. you could be screwed. So don't be naive or get caught with your pants down. YOU.. as the Race Director, are liable to and for every single runner and volunteer out there. Your volunteers don't sign waivers, and neither do other trail users. Do your due diligence to ensure that you're protecting yourself, your family, and your investment in the race.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tragedy of the Commons: Revisited

In March 2011, I wrote a post on this blog titled, "Tragedy of the Commons." In that post, I spoke about what the Tragedy of the Commons is and how it relates to both hiking (in the Northeast) and Ultra Running. I wanted to take a moment to revisit these thoughts, and provide an update on where we're at some 3.5 years after the original post.

"The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this to happen. " [1]

Monday, September 15, 2014

The RD: More Expenses

In our last post about Race Directing we discussed Infrastructure and the costs associated with getting your race started up and looking like you've been around awhile. In this post, we're going to talk about all of those other expenses that you'll encounter in directing a race. There are a number and already, we've discussed that just getting your race up off the ground can cost you more than $3,500, and we haven't really discussed the expenses that makes the race happen to begin with. So here it is..

So what I'm going to do is something very few races do. I'm going to share with you the financials from last weekends Tommyknocker Ultramarathons. Keep in mind, that putting on that one race involved hundreds of hours of work on my part, that I have not been paid for, nor will I be paid for years to come if at all. Race Directing, especially first year races, is not as lucrative as some people think. For instance, the number I shared above, $3500, is a fraction of how much I'm actually in the hole to pay for the infrastructure of the race series. I haven't made that back yet and not sure when I actually will. Thankfully, a number of local runners donated to our Indiegogo Campaign to help defray some of those costs.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The RD: Infrastructure

At this point, you've made the decision to become a race director, you've designed your course, and you're working (and likely praying) for your permits. What next? Putting on a successful race cannot be done without a number of items that one needs to purchase, or borrow from friends. A race is only as successful as the tools at your disposal in your tool belt. In this post, we're going to discuss the things that you should, or could, consider getting to make your race a success for years to come.

Let's face it, your number 1 goal of any first year race is to try and break even and not fall flat on your face. There are countless stories of "things" that have gone down at first year events.. things that have helped cause an event to be one-and-done.. or things that created a reputation that is hard to shake.. and things that leave such an impression that it's hard for folks to not talk about you, to not come back, and to not help make your event bigger and better next year. Ultimately, what you create plays a huge role in the story that is to be your race. I truly believe that the infrastructure of your race plays a major role in the overall success or failure of your event.. not just in year one but in year 2 as well. Doing this work now, setting yourself up for longterm success, is just as important as the permitting process.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The RD: Permits

This is Part 3 of a multi-part series focusing on the ins and outs of race directing. You can read the previous two parts by clicking their links below:
Part 1: The Decision
Part 2: Your Course

Permits. This is by far the hardest most tedious part of putting on a race. Anytime you are gathering a large group of people to use public lands, especially if you are accepting payment to do so, you need a permit. Parties who could require permits are Town/City and County Governments, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), United States Forest Service (USFS), Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP), and some of the above even require you obtain special written permission from private land owners before a permit is issued.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The RD: Your Course

Either you've decided to become a Race Director or you discovered an amazing place that would work well for a race. One of the two happened first and it depends greatly on the individual. I believe that deciding to be the RD is a much easier decision, than is where to have a run. Coming up with an idea for an Ultra is easy, making sure it can actually happen.. are the pieces of the puzzle that are often overlooked. In this post, I'm going to lay out all of the things one should consider before diving too far in to the race directing process, as pertains to determining your course.

I hear it all the time, "This would be a great place for a race!" It's not as simple as finding an amazing place for a race, decide to be the RD, and have a race. Many of the areas we'd all love to have a race are not, what I call, permitable. For instance, if your amazing course goes through a federally designated wilderness area.. and I mean, if it so far as touches it for all of 1 inch... you can kiss the idea goodbye. On that same note, if your course crosses any Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, it is possible you can get a permit but it all depends on what the BLM is protecting on that given parcel of land. We'll get into permitting more in our next post. These are just two important things to consider before you get all head over heels for your race idea.

There are many other things to consider in regards to your course. For instance:

Monday, August 11, 2014

The RD: The Decision

Note: "The RD" is what I'm calling my post series on Race Directing. Since beginning this newest journey into the world for directing races, I've learned a lot. A lot of what I've learned has reshaped quite a number of my thoughts and opinions on the subject and I'd like to share those thoughts. The other aspect is that I hope some of the things I share through this series will continue to enlighten those of you who read this blog about the many intricacies involved in putting on an event.

Being a race director is not something that is new to me. In fact, my history of putting on events goes back a lot farther than most people think. In 2007, I was on the front lines of helping to co-direct a series of events in Pittsfield Vermont. This included a snowshoe marathon, 50-Mile Ultra, and the first Death Race. Most of my involvement in these events was working under the wing of Andy Weinberg. Andy is the original RD of the McNaughton Park Trail races in Pekin, IL (now known as Potawatomi).

Monday, June 30, 2014

Video: Bighorn 100 "Redemption"

In 2012, I ran in the Bighorn 100 Mile Endurance Run... and dropped out of the race at Mile 66. The decision to quit that day, was the right decision, but is a decision that has weighed heavy on me ever since. My big goal for 2014, was to train for and return to the Bighorn 100 in search of redemption.

I made a documentary film in 2012 titled "90 Percent." Today, it is my most watched video on YouTube by quite a gap. I also wanted to document my stab at redemption... and thankfully it has a happy ending. While I continue to write my Bighorn 100 Race report, I hope you'll enjoy the video below.

Monday, June 2, 2014

RR: 2014 Miwok 100K

Saturday, May 3, 2014
Miwok 100K Ultra Run
62 Miles - Marin Headlands, CA
The Miwok 100K has been one of my bucket-list races since 2007. In early 2008, I started talking to an ultra-runner that I’d met through the Ultra List Serv. Her name was Alyssa Skye and she lived in the San Francisco Bay area and regularly ran on Mount Tam and the surrounding Miwok course. Alyssa knew of my struggles and ongoing battle with depression and resolved to give me a vacation. She surprised me with a plane ticket to San Francisco where she picked me up and we spent the next four days running the trails on and around the Marin Headlands.

In December 2010, Alyssa unexpectedly passed away in a tragic car accident. I was pretty devastated by her passing, a stranger who opened her heart and her life to me, to simply make me smile and give me hope. After her passing, I knew that I would one day run Miwok and I deliberately saved the 100K distance for this race in particular. I flew to San Fran alone this weekend. No Pacer, no crew. Just myself and a course I’ve always wanted to run… for Alyssa. Turns out that all these years later, she’s still giving me surprises.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Video: 2014 Trans-Zion Run

If you've never been to Zion National Park, you owe it to yourself to go. This truly is a national treasure and one of the most stunning places on earth. On Saturday, May 17th, a few friends and I had the privilege of running from the parks west rim to the east. It was by and large, one of the most magical runs I've ever been on and I am forever grateful to have done it.

Enjoy this short video of what we experienced out there. I hope you enjoy it through our own eyes.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Video: 2014 Miwok 100K

I finally made it to the Miwok 100K. My first 100K distance race, and at the race I've held the distance off for. I was incredibly excited to win a spot through the Miwok Lottery and wasn't disappointed by the experience provided by RD Tia Bodington, Stan Jansen and the rest of their amazing volunteer staff.

Below is video I shot during this years race. A short 4 or so minute musical jaunt through California's Marin Headlands. I hope you enjoy it. Race Report coming soon!

Monday, April 14, 2014

RR: 2014 Rockin' K 50 Miler

Saturday, April 4, 2014
Rockin' K 50 Mile Ultra
50 Miles - Kanapolis State Park, KS
Kansas is NOT flat
After visiting the Rockin' K 50 Miler last year, it was an easy sell to return this year. The Kansas Ultrarunners Society puts on races seldom seen in the state of Colorado. Old School ultra traditions are alive and well in Kansas and it's easy to feel like part of the family from the moment you arrive. Last year, I was on a mission to lose 30 lbs and run my 5th Vermont 100, in 100-Mile PR time. This year, I'm just enjoying the journey, training for Redemption at the Big Horn 100 in June.

I've been running Ultras for 9 full years now and come July I'll be starting season 10. That seems like a long time and even feels like it. There have been few times in the 9 years I've been running ultras that I've felt ready or even equipped to try and land amongst the top runners at a race. This year, going into Kansas, I was feeling great and knew that now was as good a time as any to give it hell and see if I could land in the Top 3.