Each year in January for the past seven years I’ve made the trek to Colorado Springs for the USA Triathlon Race Director Symposium. Over the years I’ve probably met close to a thousand race directors and several hundred coaches involved with Triathlon and every possible combination of multisport events imaginable. Most race directors also produce runs and swims in addition to triathlon, and at well over 95% of them have been active athletes at some point in their life.
Recently I’ve also been teaching race director certification classes for USAT. I’ve seen brand new race directors putting on their very first event and experienced veterans seeking additional knowledge and updates. A couple of months ago someone asked at a class “Why do you do this?”
I’ve been captivated with this question, and puzzled that many people didn't have a good answer. It made me reflect on why I decided to start Finish Line Productions and what it really means to me.
We never set out to do huge races. We never set out to get rich (that almost never happens in this business!). We pick venues that support a reasonable amount of athletes without being cramped. I’ve done races where what was comfortable for 500 was packed to the brim with twice that many bikes and gear. Personally, I don’t think that is a quality experience for anyone – organizers or athletes. The one question that always gets asked of our staff is “Would you like to do this race?” If the answer is no the race never gets off the drawing board.
We want to keep them smaller, more intimate, and personal. Everyone who works on our crew has also been a participant, likes people, likes to help and wants to be part of the experience right along with the athlete. I personally like to get to know names and hear experiences.
Over the years I’ve met some wonderful athletes, made some great friends, and really enjoy seeing them grow as athletes. Some have come to work for us at events, which is really great because they get to see the other side of the equation.
It takes a village to put on an event – from the organizing and planning to the final execution on race day. When race day rolls around the ultimate goal has to be the safety of the athletes and a great experience.
Bill Burke, one of the best in the business and owner of of Premier Event Management said “It’s gotta be personal. If it’s not, get out of the business.”
For me it's always been personal and fulfilling. There is really nothing greater than seeing everyone, from the first finisher to the very last finisher cross that finish line. Rest assured, our finish line stays in place until that last finisher crosses the line! They’ve all made the journey and we'll be there to meet them!
Tell us why you compete, what's important and what you like!
See you at the races.