Race Director Magazine - Summer 2021

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START LINES ARE BACK! Lessons from Spring Races


COVID-19: WHAT HAPPENS NOW? An Interview with Dr. Brooke Nichols

IN THIS ISSUE summer 2021


CHARITIES Keep Charging Forward


5 WAYS to Improve your Sponsor Situation Today


VACCINE PASSPORT Health Screenings App Insight














#1 Hydration Brand in the Global Runner Survey.

Time to Join the Muuvment!

Publisher & Editor In Chief Dawna Stone Managing Editor Leah Etling VP Partnerships & Sponsorships Christine Bowen Graphic Designer Sarah Page Contributors/Interviewees Mary Anderson, Melissa Bowman, Ric Din, Kristen Dreyer, William Dyson, Caroline Fitzgerald, Ryan Griessmeyer, Susan Hurley, Stevie Jones, Nate Longfellow, Dr. Brook Nichols, Todd Oliver, Jerome Pickett, Kevin Rutherford, Craig Sweeney, Ryan Winters Cover Photo Credit: Scott Flathouse

Published By

RUNNING USA BOARD OF DIRECTORS Virginia Brophy Achman Tanner Bell Alex Bennett Donna Grogan Stevie Jones

Bryan Lively Jeff Matlow Kyle McLaughlin Meghan Najera Troy Schooley Max Siegel

Lonnie Somers Dawna Stone Heidi Swartz Matt West Tony Yamanaka

PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES Contact Christine Bowen +1-858-952-3269 | christine@runningusa.org Race Director Magazine is published quarterly by Running USA Copyright 2021 All rights reserved. The entire content of Race Director Magazine is copyright protected and may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the publisher. Running USA assumes no liability for products or services promoted herein.


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ore than 7,000 readers discovered the inaugural issue of Race Director Magazine—many more than expected! Not only did the sheer number of people reading the magazine astound us, but the positive feedback was incredible. Thank you to everyone who reached out to share their praise for this new and exciting industry publication from Running USA. Although we were thrilled by all the buzz, we won’t let the kudos hold us back from striving to be even better. And that is exactly what I think we have done with this issue. Our summer issue is full of educational feature stories, timely industry news and interesting profiles and interviews. From our feature story on the widespread return to live events to insider tips on attracting new sponsors, to an interview with Dr. Brooke Nichols and an in-depth look at the charity running scene, this issue has it all and then some! The Running USA team and I hope you enjoy this issue as much, or even more than, the last one. While you flip though this issue, please remember that many of the pages are “clickable” and allow you to find additional information. Also, I hope you will click on our sponsored pages and learn more about the companies and organizations that are supporting Race Director Magazine—we couldn’t provide you with this great magazine without them. Please show them your support and learn about what they have to offer. I hope you enjoy the issue!



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T R E N DI N G In Issue 1 of Race Director Magazine,


we asked our event producers to share their experience bringing back live

NUMBERS More than half of event producers will put on races with less than 5000 participants

events in 2021. Here are the results. Take the Issue 2 RDM survey on page 42!

What size will your event be this year?






5000 or more participants 1-1000 participants 1001-2500 participants


2501-5000 participants

Participants are waiting longer to register for in-person events

More than two-thirds of events are charging the same for races that they did in past years


Are people waiting longer to register for an in-person race?



Yes No

How does your pricing for an in-person event align with past years' live events?

9% 22% 69%

Charging the same Charging more Charging less

Nearly three-quarters of events are offering a virtual event in addition to in-person

More than half of events will not hold an expo this year




More than 60% of events will not have a post-race celebration this year

We also asked where events have made the most drastic cutbacks to their budget. Responses were varied: • Staff • Swag • Expo • Equipment

• Entertainment • Prize Money • Transportation • “Everywhere”

Are you offering a virtual or hybrid event as well as an in-person one?

27% 73%

Yes No

Are you hosting an in-person expo? 42




Yes No


Are you hosting a post-race celebration? 64


Yes No

How are you handling water stops?

15% 16% 18%

Other Options


Providing self serve fluid stations Providing individual bottles Asking participants to bring their own



L es l i ej or dan. c om |Headquar t er s : Por t l and, OR |800. 935. 3343


START LINES ARE BACK! Spring races share best practices so races nationwide can continue resuming and scaling up. By Leah Etling

Runners take off at the starting line of the 2021 Ascension Seton Austin Half Marathon Photo: Scott Flathouse

he moment we’ve all been waiting for has been happening in some cities across the country this spring: Running events are back. Often at reduced capacity, and with varying COVID-19 safety protocols, but from the perspective of runners and race directors alike, returning to live racing brings a huge sigh of relief. For the running industry, this is what normal looks like.   “Runners want to do what they want to do. They’re not any different than bowlers or golfers. But we could have told them that they all had to wear jeans while running and they still would have come out to race,” joked Todd Oliver, president and race director of the Carmel Marathon in Carmel, Indiana. After being forced to cancel its 2020 event, the Carmel Marathon resumed on April 3, 2021 with reduced capacity, social distancing, masks and other safety protocols in place.    Around 3,300 runners turned out for the Carmel Marathon’s marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K. And make no mistake, they came to RUN. The average finish time for the marathon, which had over 1,000 finishers, was under 4 hours. (For those unfamiliar with the running universe, that’s an impressively fast average.)    “When’s the last time a non-downhill marathon had an average finish time under 4 hours?” Oliver asked. “Everyone ran really hard. After training with no races for a year, they came to race.”    When we chatted for this article shortly after the April event, Oliver was busy preparing for his next event, the Whitefish Marathon in Whitefish, Montana on May 22. A tiny event in a beautiful setting, this year the Whitefish event had already doubled its registered participants more than a



month prior to race day. It was a clear example of the pent-up runner demand that is likely to explode as events continue.     “There’s nothing like the feel of a finish line,” said Oliver. “For us, that was probably the most commented on thing by runners. We sent a thank you email to all our participants and people wrote back in droves. All of the feedback was extremely positive.” Unlike many event management professionals, he believes that there are no nationwide policies or pro"IT WAS EVEN MORE cedures that can effectively EMOTIONAL THAN cover all U.S. NORMAL." events. Every state – and in some states every county or city – is looking for different requirements. However, there are best practices that can cover resuming events wherever you work and live.   “Take a pause and think through your own events instead of what someone’s doing in Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles or Minneapolis. It’s great that people have come up with so many different solutions, but if we had tried to do a 30-second interval staggered start for four people at a time, the city would have said no,” Oliver said. “They

didn’t want the roads closed for that long.” Carmel began with a socially distanced start that involved a far larger start line area than in previous years.    In advance of the April 3 event, he met with local officials who were most excited about bringing out-of-town visitors to Carmel for hotel, retail and restaurant revenue. Because of that enthusiasm the full marathon was the one distance that remained at full capacity for the 2021 event – historically, it has attracted the most out of state participants, and this year was no different. 2021 was one of the largest full marathon field sizes ever for Carmel. The entire weekend was reduced capacity by 25 percent.   One surprise that might be easily replicated at other events this season was the degree of emotion participants had when crossing the finish line.   “It was even more emotional than normal. And because of hands-off protocols, the volunteers weren’t able to provide that hug or a celebratory medal over the neck,” Oliver said. While contactless volunteer rules worked well elsewhere on the course, especially at water stops and food stations, he was struck by the emotion of the 2021 finishers.    “We know historically that 40 percent of runners are ‘running for a reason,’” he explained, including charity athletes but also motivations such as honoring late family

Opposite, Left, Above: Carmel Marathon

Around 3,000 runners attended the Carmel Marathon's marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K in Indiana.

members or personal goals. “This year it was very clear there were even more.”

Jumping Through Hoops in Baton Rouge The 2021 Louisiana Marathon took place on Sunday, March 7 in Baton Rouge. The twoday event attracted around 3,500 finishers across multiple race distances.   Co-founder Craig Sweeney was upfront about the challenges that his team faced during what he hopes will be a single less than perfect year for event production. Louisiana was able to hold its 2020 event on January 19 of that year, which is its normally scheduled time. For 2022, it will return on January 15.   After being postponed from its usual date in 2021 due to spiking coronavirus cases, the Louisiana team was forced by the city to reapply for the event permit. They found

that process came along with unprecedented hurdles they’d never faced before, such as going to the fire marshal for permission to run. Typically, the fire department is not involved in permitting an outdoor event.    “They made us jump through all sorts of hoops we didn’t have in the past. We didn’t get the (new) permit until a couple weeks before the event. It felt like they really didn’t want to give it to us,” Sweeney recalled. In a normal year, the race is highly supported by the city and the mayor is out at the start line on race day. That was not the case in 2021, which seemed to be tied to a fear of potential public backlash.   Louisiana was unable to hold its expo, which is typically indoors, and abandoned its typically festive post-race celebration for a grab and go food box. But despite all the changes and additional permitting, some sponsors were still not comfortable supporting the 2021 event. “Their concern was


the optics and public perception. The pubthon finishers. lic seemed to think this could be a super    One phenomenon events are now getting spreader event.” used to is an on-site presence from permit    Despite those planning difficulties, race ting authorities. In Salisbury, that included day went off perfectly. Louisiana used a the police and the health department. start line system that resembles precision     “I was starting the race and overseeing Spartan Army units headed into battle. Corthe timing and operations side, and they put rals are lined up with six feet separation besome pressure on me,” Griessmeyer said. tween participants (spots were designated “At one point, race director Jason Chance by a schoolyard traffic cone) for multiple (who is also a police officer) grabbed the blocks around the downtown start. As one microphone from the announcer and told corral runs off, the next the runners: If you don’t one moves up into place. spread out right now, the That was one change that police are going to close Louisiana will likely keep. this race down.” Runners "WE HAVEN’T HAD A    “We will have a corral complied and the race SINGLE REPORT system in the future, but went on, but the ability hopefully next year we to communicate protoOF ANY COVID won’t have to be six feet cols clearly and quickly TRANSMISSION AT apart,” Sweeney said. “I to participants has never have no concerns about been more important. ANY OF OUR EVENTS next year.”    As a timer in addition to an event producer, THIS YEAR.” RDE has found innovaScaling Up, with - RYAN GRIESSMEYER tive ways to use data to Timing’s Help document exactly how much overlap runners In Wisconsin, Race Day have on course. Especially with the smaller Events (RDE) was able to produce a series of events, it’s not much. small trail runs, with field sizes between 75  “Our timing team did a great job with 125 participants, beginning in May of 2020. compiling exact data on how many passes Those events provided the baseline for a rewe had on the course. We knew to a T how turn to larger ones this year. The 1,500-permuch interaction we had, and we could inson Lake Monona 20K/5K set for May 1 was clude that in our reports to the city and the half of normal capacity, but the largest event parks department, who complimented us of the season to date. on how safe and clean we kept it. When we   “We had a touch free check in and a submitted our next proposal, their response much wider start line. So we’re slowly phaswas great job, keep that up. We haven’t had ing back up but with a focus on being 100 a single report of any COVID transmission at percent safe,” said Ryan Griessmeyer, presiany of our events this year.” dent of the Fitchburg, Wisconsin based pro    By adding additional timing mats or chip duction company. “We’ve been able to take readers, even small races can enhance typthe trail run plans and expand on them alical results and use that data to show offimost 100 times.” cials how many other runners a participant     RDE also works as a timing and operacomes in contact with. tions contractor for events nationwide, in“Timers can be a great help in giving you the cluding the Salisbury Marathon, which was data you need for your municipalities,” said held in Salisbury, Maryland on April 3. Like Griessmeyer. “Depending on the length and the Carmel Marathon, Salisbury also had a size of the race, your timing company can very fast field: nearly 25 percent of the full break it into split points and determine how marathon finishers ran Boston Marathon many people were between each of those qualifying times. There were 328 full mara16 | RACE DIRECTOR MAGAZINE

Oppsoitve,Top: Jordan Vonderhaar Opposite, Bottom: Austin Half Marathon

areas at any given time.”

A Return to Running in Austin

Top: Half-Marathon Finisher Bottom: Nate Boyer, Green Beret, former Texas Longhorn and Seattle Seahawk, with Leo Manzano, Austin Marathon Race Ambassador, 2012 Olympic silver medalist, after their friendly "race."

The Ascension Seton Austin Half Marathon, produced by High Five Events, reduced its event size by over 50 percent, and successfully held an in-person half marathon and 5K in Austin, Texas on April 25. Around 4,230 runners completed both events (total includes a few hundred virtual participants). Neither the full marathon nor the Manzano Mile was held in 2021. For all four events, there were 13,000 finishers in 2018.   COVID mitigation and participant health and safety were the clear priority for 2021, said William Dyson, communications manager for High Five Events. Host of numerous major events each year, Austin is known as a city where running is extremely popular, and the half marathon was marketed spiritedly as “Austin’s Return to Running.” But it also attracted participants from as far afield as New York City and Mexico, demonstrating that runners are willing to travel for the chance to race in person again.    “We were very proud of this event. It shows that large scale endurance events can be held with strategic planning, a dedicated team, willing partners, effective measures and extensive communication. Secondly, participants want to return to large scale, outdoor endurance events. That couldn’t have been any more evident by the chatter on race day, at packet pickup, and on social media. They were extremely grateful for the experience. There’s only so many times you can cross the same virtual finish line in your own neighborhood,” Dyson said.   Volume, clarity, and variety of communications methods were a key part of Austin’s success. In addition


Paramount Theatre marquee on race morning. to traditional email, web, and social media communications to runners, they utilized app and text message (SMS) functionality to make sure that participants had all the information they would need to be successful, safe and informed on race day.    “Don’t underestimate the power of overcommunicating and the need for constant and continuous engagement,” Dyson said. “Sometimes that can be overwhelming for participants, but when you’re putting out information that’s important to their well-being, as well as the well-being of staff, partners and volunteers, it’s critical. We did a staggered start, so communicating those start times was very important.”    Participant feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive.


Photo Courtesy of Austin Half Marathon

“The Austin Half was my first race in 12 years and I couldn’t have asked for a better event to bring me back into running,” said Jack McBee, a finisher of the half marathon in 2:06:32. “The energy was incredible -clearly everyone was ready to get back to running Austin!”    High Five Events will now take their lessons learned to the production of an in-person triathlon set for Memorial Day weekend.   “We really hope this blazes a path forward for other large endurance events,” Dyson said. “This shows that it can be done. You just have to put in a lot of work, change some of your expectations, and put it back towards the community.” //

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R A C E D A Y E V E N T S . C O M



BY DAWNA STONE    This spring, Running USA was able to spearhead the production of a research-based white paper that will help races get started again. Recognizing that every area of the country is different, and protocols and regulations are constantly changing, epidemiologist and medical modeler Dr. Brooke Nichols has outlined the safest way for running events to get back to the starting line.   Dr. Nichols brings a perfect mix of skills to this project. In addition to her epidemiology background, she has spent much of her career focused on mathematical modeling of HIV transmission. She’s also a dedicated runner who has completed the famous Comrades Marathon. In 2020, those 20 | RACE DIRECTOR MAGAZINE

experiences came together when she was asked to help the Boston Athletic Association and other organizations with the science behind racing safely. Dr. Nichols sat down with me for an interview on COVID-19, running, and her expectations for our industry and getting back to normal. If you missed our conversation, here is a condensed version. You can also watch the video if you’d like to hear the interview in its entirety. If you haven’t had a chance to read the white paper, find it by clicking through to a downloadable version. Many events have told us that they are taking this white paper with them as part of their permitting negotiations with city and county

Center Illustration: Anna & Elena Balbusso

officials in advance of summer and fall events. Thanks to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Chicago Event Management, Brooks Sports and P3R for their sponsorship, which made this project possible. Dawna: Tell us a bit about your background and how you decided to pursue quantitative implementation science? I don't think it's something that most little kids dream of, becoming a mathematical modeler when they get older. Dr. Nichols: No single scientific method is enough to answer some public health questions. I was trained as an epidemiologist and infectious disease epidemiologist, and in the mathematical modeling of infectious diseases. But the number of tools that you need to answer so many questions in public health is large. Modeling isn't enough, epidemiology isn't enough. Sometimes you need health economics, and you need to bring all these other disciplines together. And so that is what we've been calling quantitative implementation science. And as a little girl, obviously, quantitative implementation science wasn't a thing because I was not grown up yet.    I'd always been interested in the fact that you can use math to explain the world around you. So that's how I initially got started. My background is mostly in HIV modeling, and looking at different policy decisions around how can you prevent infections, as well as have you invested resources properly to ensure maximum impact? Dawna: And then, along came coronavirus. How did that change your daily work? Dr. Nichols: At least half of my time has been spent on coronavirus since March of last year. Because it turns out there's not a lot of infectious disease modelers out there. Infectious disease epidemiologists were in high demand, and we pivoted all of our skill sets to work on coronavirus. Over the past year, my primary work has been working with country governments to look at testing policies and global resource allocation specifically for coronavirus testing, and rapid antigen diagnostics. And I've been working with running events as well.

Dr. Brooke Nichols in her lab. Dawna: How did you get started working with running events? Dr. Nichols: I've been running distances from 5k to ultra-marathons and been an avid runner for as long as I can remember.    A former classmate of mine from my epidemiology studies was working with the Boston Marathon. He said, Brooke, you're an actual infectious disease epidemiologist, and I know you run a lot. So why don't you come talk to us, and we can see what we can figure out. And so that was my first connection between infectious disease epidemiology and my greatest passion, which is running. Since then, I’ve been serving on the Boston Marathon COVID-19 Medical & Event Operations Advisory Group. Dawna: And I understand you’ve worked with some other major industry events as well? Dr. Nichols: Yes, I have also done some work with Bank of America Chicago Marathon and Spartan event series over the last several months.


Dawna: With our race director audience in mind, what are the scientific and health factors that need to play into their planning for events this year and beyond? Dr. Nichols: Coronavirus has evolved so rapidly, and our response has evolved rapidly. In a lot of ways, planning is about having a plan for the worst case situation. For example, if vaccination isn't scaled up to the extent we thought it was going to be, then what's the plan? And trying to plan around that, instead of assuming that we're going to hit certain targets. Because public health is notorious for not achieving the targets that they hoped that they would. But I do think we know enough now about the virus, how its transmitted, and almost all the key factors that come into running (and producing) a race. Dawna: In the white paper you wrote that temperature checks are not useful or necessary for large events. Can you explain that?

Dr. Nichols: Early in the pandemic, we actually had no idea whether it was fomite transmission (surface contact transmission) or airborne aerosol droplets. I mean, the CDC didn't officially agree on how it was transmitted until about a week ago. (Ed. note, conversation took place May 4.)    But now there's been enough data and enough people infected with coronavirus that we now know that the vast majority of transmission events occur through the air, via people breathing, and not through surfaces. There are very few cases that can be linked directly or proven through just contact on surfaces.


Dr. Nichols: Temperature checks are very likely to get the answer wrong. If you do not have coronavirus, it is likely to say incorrectly that this person needs to be screened out because of elevated temperature. The other way around, I could have coronavirus and no temperature, and it would not screen me out.    The Cochrane Review, a systematic review of research in health care and health policy, has come to this specific question of the usefulness of temperature screens and they've also concluded that they are not very useful. And in many people with COVID, especially asymptomatic infection, the probability of having an elevated temperature is low. You'd actually miss your most important group of people, those who are infected but not exhibiting symptoms. Dawna: Another conclusion that was interesting is that surface transmission of coronavirus is some22 | RACE DIRECTOR MAGAZINE

thing that we don't really have to worry about. Can you explain why that is?

Dawna: In the white paper you also talk about testing protocols and timeframes for doing testing. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Dr. Nichols: There's been a lot of discussion about rapid antigen diagnostics vs. PCR testing. Most everyone considers PCR testing as the gold standard, which it is to some degree as it detects virus. So if you have virus alive and replicating that's transmissible, or dead virus, where you can no longer infect someone, it will pick up the virus and say that you're positive. For example, if I was infected three weeks ago, and I coughed on you today, I wouldn't actually give you coronavirus. But the test would say that I'm positive still.    But the PCR test is good because it can pick up virus before you start transmitting, maybe a day or two in advance. Whereas an antigen test can only tell you sort of at that moment forward that you are no longer or that you are currently infectious. So antigen tests are actually really good testing tool to say whether or not you're going to

Dr. Nichols was able to combine her skillset as a infectious disease epidemiologist and her passion for running. transmit the virus. Whereas PCR can give you a tiny bit of a signal ahead of time.     The other difference is that PCR testing typically needs to go to a lab, and there's a turnaround time, so you don't actually know the result of your test until a day or two later. With rapid antigen tests, you know straightaway. Dawna: What are the implications here for events, differentiating between the small local events and large events with tens of thousands of participants? Dr. Nichols: I tried to make the distinction in the white paper about large scale events. And when I talk about large scale events, I mean when people are traveling into a city or community from elsewhere. The reason that that matters is because not only are we trying to keep our races safe, but if you're bringing in 50,000 people; not only the participants, their families, and others, all into an area that didn't have those people before, there could be an impact. You could make the race safe, with no transmission events, or very few transmission events. The consideration would be the impact on the community. It'd be participants and their families and others who are part of the event, interacting with the local community at restaurants and social events around the race, that would be more of concern.     When we're thinking local events, typically parPhotos courtesy of Dr. Brooke Nichols

ticipants are just going to drive to the event the same day, they're not staying in a hotel, they're not going to different restaurants than they normally would, then you're not going to impact the community differently. When events are smaller and local, you wouldn't necessarily need to use a testing strategy. But at a large event where you're having people come from multiple locations, that testing strategy becomes more important. If you had access to rapid antigen tests, you could certainly consider that as part of your mitigation strategy at a small community event. But it matters to a lesser extent to global public health then it does at a large event. Dawna: Is coronavirus eventually going to fall off our radar like SARS or Zika? Or do you think it's something that we all have to worry about for years to come? Dr. Nichols: We're going to worry about it for forever. Eventually we will worry about it less, because it will kill people less frequently once people are vaccinated. But this is something that will become, by my estimation, endemic. We can't get rid of it. If we could really vaccinate everyone in the world at the same time, maybe, but that is incredibly unlikely. This will more likely become more of a seasonal virus or a childhood virus potentially.

At the conclusion of our conversation, Dr. Nichols answered webinar attendee questions about kids’ runs, vaccine frequency, stair climb events, and more. We invite you to view the recording to see those responses, and thank Dr. Nichols for her time and dedication to this project on behalf of Running USA and the running industry at large. // RACE DIRECTOR MAGAZINE | 23


AN OPTION FOR EVENTS An interview with CLEAR’s Jerome Pickett By Dawna Stone


s races resume, some event producers are looking into ways that technology may be of use to help more participants join safely in the action. Apps can play a vital role in tracking both people and data in this process, so we reached out to Jerome Pickett, Senior Vice President and General Manager of sports and entertainment at biometric identification company CLEAR, to learn more.    Before joining Clear early in 2021, Pickett served as the NBA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Security Officer, leading the organization's sports and entertainment division. Pickett had responsibility for the NBA’s coronavirus protocols that led to the league’s bubble in Orlando, Fla. in 2020. Prior to the NBA, he spent 16 years with the U.S. Secret Service. RDM: Please define/explain the primary benefits and features of the CLEAR Health Pass? Pickett: Health Pass is a free, opt-in mobile experience on the CLEAR app that securely connects a user’s verified identity to multiple layers of COVID-19-related health information – such as test results - to help reduce public health risk and get people back to what they love.    From the beginning, Health Pass has always been an adaptable and scalable solution. Whether it's a small business’ office or a NBA basketball game, we work directly with our partners to tailor Health Pass’ multi-layered solutions to meet their needs. These solutions can include health surveys, COVID-19 test results, integrated temperature checking kiosks, and soon vaccination results - all working


through the free CLEAR app to create a frictionless experience. RDM: Can you provide specific examples of how Health Pass is being used in the sports and recreation space? Pickett: One of our first major Health Pass partnerships was the National Hockey League's 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Health Pass helped the NHL create its secure Stanley Cup playoff bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton, which resulted in zero positive tests over two months of games.   Just recently, we announced our leaguewide partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) that will make CLEAR’s Health Pass technology available to NBA teams. Since the start of the season, a third of all NBA teams have used Health Pass to create safer environments for their employees, fans, or both.    Overall, more than 60 organizations across the country are using Health Pass, including teams across all major sports leagues, the state of Hawaii, and many more. RDM: Are there any U.S. endurance events currently implementing Health Pass? Pickett: Health Pass is currently being used by Tough Mudder and Spartan Races to help create a safer environment for their staff, and we are in advanced conversations with many major marathons and endurance events across the country. At its core, Health Pass creates a frictionless and safer experience, and we hope to bring that to endurance races soon.//

CHARITIES KEEP CHARGING FORWARD Lessons from pandemic pivots are expected to be beneficial in the long run By Leah Etling


For charities across the U.S. and beyond, fundraising by runners and other endurance athletes is a crucial part of incoming donations each year. In 2019, the last “normal” year for events, over $1.5 billion was brought in by athletes to benefit hundreds of worthy causes. 2019 was in fact a record fundraising year for many charities and events, including totals from the Boston, Chicago and St. Jude Memphis Marathons.   While most funds are raised by athletes running major marathons like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Rock ‘n’ Roll Series events and New York City, almost every race includes charity runners, and their commitment and dedication to the sport was apparent even in the most abnormal year for running ever: 2020. A Positive Pivot in Memphis A well-known national non-profit, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, also owns and operates its own major marathon, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon weekend, which takes place annually in Memphis, Tenn. in early December. In 2019, the marathon’s participants raised a record $12 million for St. Jude, the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, a compelling fact that motivates its runners to impressive fundraising heights.    “In 2020, we had participants stay commit-

ted to those (ambitious) fundraising levels even as we shifted to a virtual experience,” said Nate Longfellow, Director of Fitness Events for St. Jude. The 15,000 participants in the St. Jude virtual event-only raised $7.5 million for the hospital in 2020.       “Our big pivot was evaluating safety and security for our participants and audiences first and still delivering the St. Jude mission, purpose and experience to audiences across the country. We focused on delivering an experience, not just a race, and engaging our audience in a way that meets them where they are,” Longfellow said.    For St. Jude, which had only piloted a virtual event with a small number of participants in 2019, going fully virtual was eye-opening in a positive way. The virtual event broadened the reach of the race in significant ways, with participants from all 50 U.S. states and more than 70 countries. In 2019, runners from 17 countries had participated.    “Looking towards the future, there’s great opportunities for a hybrid event. The lessons we got from a virtual perspective really helped us. We’re creating an all new, amazing format that will serve all audiences, and bring Memphis to the world and the world to Memphis,” said Ric Din, Associate Director of Strategic Communications for St. Jude.    The St. Jude team is moving forward with plans for both in-person and virtual events in December 2021, with a goal of raising $9 million. It’s the

Oppostie: St. Jude, Above: ALSAC Photography

virtual experience and continue to expand our global audience,” said Longfellow. Teams in the “Quarter Million Dollar Club,” working towards a $250,000 fundraising effort, will receive special recognition and perks along the way.    St. Jude has also expressed a commitment to reach diverse runner groups. In 2021, they will offer online registration in Spanish globally for the first time. The 20th edition event will also host the National Black Marathoners Association (NBMA) annual summit, where runners gather to race, network and celebrate their achievements. Access and inclusivity for runners of all backgrounds are a priority for the organization, Longfellow said.


event’s 20th anniversary in 2021, and Longfellow expects that while ramping up to race weekend, participants will hit $100 million in all-time fundraising. It’s a major milestone for the charity that speaks to the power of runners as fundraisers.    “We’re thrilled because it’s our 20th anniversary, celebrating 20 years of running in Memphis and what we learned from 2020 is that hybrid is here to stay. We will continue to offer the 28 | RACE DIRECTOR MAGAZINE

A Charity Runners’ Perspective San Diego resident Ryan Winters became a runner many years ago and has completed 28 half marathons and seven full marathons. He’s always loved running, but his journey in the sport took a focused turn towards charitable participation on April 15, 2013, when the Boston Marathon was attacked by bombs placed in the crowd near the finish line.    “I had family and friends who were around the Boston finish line that day. My cousin was running and was very close to the end. At the time, it was very stressful, and I was feeling helpless. Afterwards, I wanted to do something,” said Winters, 41. Since 2013, he has run 19 races for charity.    His search for a course of action led him to the Lingzi Lu Foundation, which honors the life and memory of one of the three spectators killed by the Boston bombings.    “I was able to connect with Lingzi’s family and their charity efforts, and I was just so moved by them. On top of everything they have been through, they are just so kind,” Winters said. When 2020 began, he was preparing for one of his most intense running efforts yet: running the Boston and London Marathons within a 7-day time span. In return, he would raise $7,500 for the foundation.    “In March, when COVID hit, I had just passed that $7,500 goal. For Boston, I mapped out a virtual route around San Diego, and incorporated my donors and charity support along Photo: Courtesy of Ryan Winters, Opposite: St. Jude


the run. One of the things I like to do when I train and fundraise is keep my race bib, but for my donors, their name goes into a drawing and one of them receives my race medal. I really had to pivot and think of new fundraising and engagement strategies for the times.” One of his ideas was delivering meals to ER and ICU teams involved in the COVID fight. This was firmly aligned with the Lingzi Lu Foundation’s efforts to have supporters “complete good works in her name.”    This year, Winters plans to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October. In 2022, he hopes to complete his 2020 plan and run Boston and London back-to-back. His hope is that when the pandemic subsides, there will be more runners than ever raising funds for good works alongside him.    “Those who are most successful with the fundraising component have a strong connection with the organization they are working for,” said Winters. “For me it’s finding that organization that you’re really connected to. No matter what happens – you’re not going to give up.” Helping Small Non-Profits Grow Since 2008, Susan Hurley’s CharityTeams has helped connect charities with races and runners, with mutual benefits for all. In that time, she’s worked with over 65 non-profits and runners have raised over $25 million. Runners receive training so they’re adequately prepared for race day, and Hurley’s advocacy efforts have ensured that major events continue to make race bibs available to charities, providing a crucial fundraising lifeline. Runners simply need to pick a charity, commit to a fundraising level, and then raise the funds.    One of the non-profits CharityTeams works with is the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation, which works for women’s empowerment and safety while running and walking outdoors. Vanessa Marcotte was out for a walk near her Massachusetts home when she was tragically killed in 2016. Charity bibs are a vital component of the foundation’s fundraising efforts.    “We wish we could get a million bibs for 30 | RACE DIRECTOR MAGAZINE


races. We get so many applications from women and men who want to make the world a better place for their daughters, wives and sisters,” said Kristen Dreyer, speaking on behalf of the foundation. The organization receives 4-5 bibs each year for the Boston and New York City Marathons, and more for the New York City Half Marathon and New Balance Falmouth Road Race.    For the Vanessa Marcotte Foundation and its ambassadors, raising awareness about the daily dangers for runners and walkers is just as important as raising funds.    “We envision a world where everyone should be able to go for a walk or a run in their own neighborhood and be safe,” said Melissa Bowman, representing the foundation. “People should feel safe when training for any running event or just out for a run or a walk anywhere, anytime of day.” Unfortunately, that is not the case.    “The stories we hear in our runners’ applications would break your heart,” said Dreyer. “That’s why we wish we had limitless entries for every race. We need to change that.”    The support for non-profit bibs by large races has been a buoyant for CharityTeams’ athletes during an otherwise challenging time. With so much uncertainly around race dates, formats and other factors, Susan Hurley has been buoyed by the consistent support of races and passion of runners.    “Charities and races are going to struggle in 2021 a bit, but when we do come back, in 2022, I think we’re going to come back really big,” Hurley said. “My gut feeling is that it’s going to be a huge charity recruitment year for Boston and New York when registrations open up.” //

5 to Do

Things today

to Achieve Your Sponsorship Goals Tomorrow By Caroline Fitzgerald When it comes to selling partnerships for running events and programs, the hardest part is often getting connected with the right people at the right companies. We all know “cold calls” and “cold emails” are usually ineffective and time consuming. It’s exhausting to put so much time into outreach and see no response or results. While there’s no perfect way to approach sales, at P3R, we’ve put a lot of thought into how we can “work smarter, not harder” when it comes to taking the first step in the sales process. Here are 5 actionable steps that we follow, and hope can help you make the first connection with your prospective partners:


Smart brand prospecting yields golden leads


Reach out during ‘off hours’

When it comes to brand prospecting, “working smarter” is more important than “working harder.” Be intentional with what brands you reach out to. Start by looking for brands that have invested in sports entities in the market you're selling in; or look for a list of brands that have recently invested in the endurance space. Make a prospecting list of 10-20 brands to target.

Make a plan to send your new contact an email during "off hours" to ensure your outreach note stands out. The last thing you want is for your note to get lost in the shuffle of their normal email workload. Aim to send your note anytime on Sunday or a Monday before 8am or after 7pm.



For best results, find the decision maker

Get that meeting

While finding the right brands to connect with is important, it’s even more important to connect with the right decision makers at the companies on your prospecting list. Start by looking at press releases of previous partnership announcements to find who is quoted. Then, look up members of the Senior Leadership Team. Don’t be nervous to email a CEO or senior vice president. Always aim to get in front of the decision makers at the companies you want to work with.

The goal of your initial outreach email should be to briefly introduce yourself, your organization, and to set-up a 15-30 introductory meeting. Provide a short explanation for why you're reaching out, and six time options in a two week window for when to connect over the phone. By providing exact time options, that will make it easier for the contact to pick a day and time from your list and schedule the meeting right away, instead of making more work for them to go back-and-forth on scheduling.


About the Author |

Locate the correct contact information

Once you have a name of a contact, find their email address by searching on their company website or LinkedIn. A tool that has been really helpful to our team is Google Chrome's Hunter Email Finder Extension. It’s a free plug-in that helps you find direct email addresses or creates educated guesses for what email format a company uses.

Readers, Take Action!

Caroline Fitzgerald is the Vice President of Partnerships & Runner Experience at P3R, the engine behind Pittsburgh’s greatest races. Best known for organizing the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, P3R runs a variety of other high-quality races of various distances, as well as events and award-winning health and fitness programs throughout the Pittsburgh region and Western Pennsylvania.

We’d love to hear your experiences with the successes and challenges of gaining and retaining event sponsorship in the post-pandemic era. Contact content@runningusa.org to share your story.




Insight from Stevie Jones of Brooks Sports By Leah Etling


o augment Caroline’s helpful tips for taking action to improve your sponsorship situation, we asked Stevie Jones of leading running brand Brooks Sports to weigh in. Jones is the Manager of Event Marketing for Brooks, which supports dozens of races of all sizes across the U.S. each year. If you’ve ever wondered what a major brand looks for when deciding whether to partner with an event, read on for some illuminative insight.


RDM: What would you like event staff/race directors to know about your decision-making process for selecting event partners? Jones: Some of the biggest factors we consider when deciding which races to partner with are the overall quality and reach of the event – meaning, how many runners is the race reaching, and how great of an overall experience are those runners having? How is the race organization giving back and supporting health and wellness in its community? Are there ways we as a brand can integrate a partnership into some of our other strategic initiatives? All that

Photo: Courtesy of Stevie Jones

aside, there are factors we consider when vetting a new partnership opportunity that are completely out of the event’s control, which means that sometimes we turn down great opportunities at no fault of the race. Sometimes great events end up being non-starters for us purely based on their placement on the calendar or location. We prioritize our bandwidth and resources for the partnerships we have, which can sometimes create conflict for new opportunities. Our goal is to make sure we are able to go above and beyond our commitments in every partnership and deliver a best-in-class experience for runners, which sometimes means we are working with fewer events but doing more to support them. RDM: When an event is presenting to a potential sponsor or partner, what details should they be sure to include? Jones: What might seem like a no brainer but is frequently overlooked are the core basics of the event meaning the date, location, # of runners, and distance. You would be surprised how many sponsorship requests come through where I immediately have to go google where/ when the event is. Beyond that, I would recommend events take the time to research a bit about the companies they are pitching to – what are their goals and values? Position the pitch to be about how the event will specifically support aspects of the company’s goals and brand values. Maybe it’s community outreach, employee involvement, or reaching a target audience. I would also recommend moving away from a set tiered sponsorship offering (bronze, silver, gold). When I see that, I assume that I’m one of a dozen emails sent that day soliciting sponsorship, it makes me feel as though there wasn’t much time spent on thinking about who they’re sending it to, and it’s probably been a long time since they’ve considered how to innovate and improve their sponsorship offering. RDM: Industry surveys show that events are having a harder time gaining support from

companies and brands right now. What's your take on this and do you see it improving in the next six-12 months? Jones: I see it improving in the next 6 months, the data is pointing to record participation in the sport of running, and brands who had to hunker down and protect their cash flow over the last 12+ months are likely coming out looking to reach new customers. I don’t expect securing sponsorship to get any easier, but I think that great events with great opportunities for sponsors will be able to find brands to work with. RDM: Can virtual events be viable for sponsor support, or is it harder for them to demonstrate ROI? Jones: If the last 12+ months have demonstrated anything, it’s that a “virtual event” can mean a variety of different things. A physical event that pivoted virtual (take Pittsburgh Marathon for example) can still deliver a lot of value in sponsorship, particularly to the brands it already works with. Events that are new and purely virtual, even if coming from a well-reputed event organizer, are harder to drive sponsorship value from. In those cases, finding sponsorship with non-endemic sponsors who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the event’s audience would be my recommended approach. RDM: If an event is struggling with its sponsorship pitch, any advice or resources you’d suggest? Jones: Find a peer in the industry and see what you can learn from each other. Hear how they pitch their race(s) and share how you pitch yours. Offer honest feedback and be ready to hear honest feedback. From there, just try to get as many reps in as possible, and don’t let rejections discourage you. The more pitches you can make, the more likely you are to find a “yes.” //


Job title: President/Founder Race or company name: Anderson Race Management Years in the industry: 30, last 25 years with Anderson Race Management What got you into the running industry? I worked at Dayton Hudson Corporation as an accountant and several people that worked there were also on the Board of Directors at Twin Cities Marathon and they recruited me to join when they found out I was a runner. I was so honored and ecstatic to be asked and ended up serving on the BOD for 12 years (the later years as President). I have also served in key volunteer positions for Twin Cities Marathon for 30 years. Why do you love your job? The people I get to work with, the causes I get to support and celebrate and most of all .. making a difference in people’s lives by helping them achieve their personal run/walk goals or fundraising goals for their causes.


RACE DIRECTOR A longtime member of Running USA, Mary Anderson exemplifies the passion and pride that so many of our industry veterans pour into their work. After 2020, she’s also a survivor. Her company revenue was down 80%, and 90% of her 200-plus events were canceled or went virtual. "Last year just about killed me. It was horrible," Anderson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. But she kept on, and as you’ll read below, maintained a positive attitude despite all the challenges. Meet Minnesota’s Mary Anderson.

What’s your favorite part of event production? Everything on race day! The planning can sometimes become a burden, but that is what can make race day a masterpiece. I often equate the race director to the conductor of the orchestra. Race day goes from nothing to a beautiful energetic event site and back to zero again in a matter of hours. I love soaking in the energy of the day and celebrating all things that go with that day! And conversely, what you dread the most about “day of” the event? Rain and wind! Your go-to fuel up snack or meal on race day? Pre-race Days I love Chinese food when we are in the thick of things and I actually have time to eat. Race days consist of Diet Coke and whatever race food we have on hand. My crew jokes that nobody should ever touch my Diet Coke on race day if they want things to go smoothly ;)

The 3 most essential items in your backpack or event kit? Extra socks (I hate wet feet), pens, clipboard, race notes, and gloves. Do you have a lucky charm or outfit you wear? Maybe a quote you keep in mind? Comfortable athletic pants, layers of shirts/ jackets, but everything needs to have pockets! My quote is “Carpe Diem” and “Enjoy every moment!” Another one that is my everyday theme: “Love What You Do and You Will Never Work a Day in Your Life!” If you weren’t doing this work, what would you be doing instead? Accounting at a desk in an office (which I have had to turn to during this COVID time). What was your top takeaway from the last year and dealing with the pandemic? Try to take each day one day at a time and never give up. What’s the next race you hope to run yourself? We have had a few over the past couple months, but also have several scheduled over the next few weeks. Our biggest/most popular event coming up soon is the Maple Grove Half Marathon, 5K and 10K. It’s a great community event organized in conjunction with the Maple Grove Lions and will be the longest distance event since COVID here in the Twin Cities area, so people are excited. Anything else you'd like to add? I really have thought a lot about what I would do if I didn’t do what I do and there really is nowhere else I would rather be! I love what I do and do it with the utmost passion every day.

Do you know a race director you’d like to introduce to the rest of the industry? Nominate them for a future feature in Race Director Magazine by emailing content@runningusa.org

Photo Opposite, Top to Bottom: Courtesy of Anderson Race Management


Good Old Days By Kevin Rutherford

The TV show The Office has become one of the most iconic comedic shows of all time. The attachment the audience has with the cast and the feeling of escape we get through the endless, clever humor offers a sense of comfort by seeing a part of ourselves in their shoes. I have a fondness for many episodes, yet there is one moment that stands out for me because of its life lesson. Yes, you heard that right, a life lesson from The Office. It took place in the final episode when Andy Bernard, played by Ed Helms, looked at the camera and said: “I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.” I would be remiss if I didn’t say the next line was the perfect humor at that moment when Andy, also a singer, said “someone should write a song about that.” The past 15 months have been extremely wearing on the running industry, on all of you, and I realize this observation is a bit of an understatement. During these times, I have searched deep to find and connect with a vision for a better future for

our industry and humanity. Through this process, I found that I have developed more hope and conviction about what we are recreating. At this moment in time we are connecting, strategizing and creating our future with a fresh start. There are few times in history where this has happened on this scale. The only example that I can think of is the generation that built the roaring 20’s coming out of World War I while also overcoming the Spanish Flu pandemic. Like the generation then, we will look back at this time and connect the dots in our life journey to discover that 2021 will very likely be ‘the good old days.’ As leaders, here are five reasons why we should not only have hope, but why we should use it to create the new world we want:

Hope that preventative health is the new way. How might we (HMW) leverage the surge in connected fitness and the quantified athlete, both of which are reinventing the way we are exercising. The consumer is here, let’s meet them where they are.

Hope that race and run experiences will bring us together. HMW leverage a longing for community and connection by delivering an omni-experience like never before? Remember, running event participation peaked in 2013, so this is the time to start with a better way. Let’s find a way to connect the communities that we operate in while also partnering with a global running community for a bigger impact.

Hope will show us how to act. HMW envision a future and chart the path forward with confidence that will blaze the trail for all of us to act upon. Action will create momentum, and in turn, build a belief in oneself and in others.

Hope has a ripple effect. HMW realize the compounded impact when we create a vision, believe in it and begin taking action. The cumulative impact from the ripple effect across our teams will accelerate and it all starts with a spark. Take action now with a focus on how far you’ve come versus feeling overwhelmed by concentrating on how far you need to go.

Hope is the catalyst for us to overcome adversity and create a life of meaning & purpose. HMW create a sense of shared purpose that sustains impact every month and every year. When Terry Fox started his run across Canada, the second largest nation on the planet, it wasn’t about his run. It was about hope that gave purpose to him, his community, cancer survivors, a nation and global citizens by uniting around running to support a shared cause. This is our moment to create a new and better way, by giving a sense of hope through community, action and experiences. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to approach our

events with the mindset of a truly fresh start. We have the chance to start anew and create a better race experience for people while delivering a superior business model versus what we had previously. As I once heard, “leaders are dealers in hope.” That sounds like a good motto for us to live by. Together, we can create a running industry stronger than ever before by serving our communities with hope. To be clear, hope is not a strategy. However, you can and should build a strategy on hope. It needs to start with believing in our ability to create a better world within our respective circles of influence and follow quickly with action through servant leadership. This moment in time is a rare gift for many of us, so let’s make it count and we will look back and say, ‘remember the good old days when we rebuilt the running community on the foundation that allowed us to evolve into the healthier world we are today.’


About the author: Kevin Rutherford is Chief Eternal Optimist (CEO) of Nuun Hydration, dedicated to keeping you as hydrated as humanly possible.

Planning Underway for


Presenter applications being accepted now through August 31 Just as runners and race producers are excited to be getting back to live events, the Running USA team is thrilled to be back on track for a 2022 in-person industry conference at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort in Orlando. Planning is underway for the Feb. 20-22 event, which will again be presented by Race Roster. Attendee registration opened in early June.“The leading industry conference will be raising the bar for our 2022 event,” said Dawna Stone, CEO of Running USA. “We are planning a programming lineup that focuses on the bright future for the running industry and we invite our members and industry colleagues to lend us their expertise.” The Running USA Conference Planning Committee works year-round to put together a wide variety of content that is relevant and engaging for attendees across the industry, including event directors, product vendors, technology companies, marketing experts, support personnel and more. “It is our goal to select engaging and knowledgeable presenters and dynamic industry experts,” said Christine Bowen, vice president of programming, partnerships and operations at Running USA. “As in past years, presentation opportunities are purely educational and not considered as part of sponsorship opportunities. We are fully focused on educational programming for this event.”




Co Disney

Through August 31, those interested in presenting at the 2022 conference can submit an application with their suggested topic or presentation focus. The presenter application is available here (click to access the link). For vendors and those interested in sponsoring portions of the event, more information will be released in the next several weeks. Watch your weekly Running USA newsletters for important updates. Disney C



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This month, we have two surveys for you: one on the return of larger running events in more locations this fall, and another about your input for future Running USA conference locations and venues. As in last month’s issue, please click directly on either survey to be taken to an interactive online response form. And thanks in advance for your input, we really appreciate it.



Are you holding a live event from September to November of 2021?

Of the following locations, please rank by your order of preference for a future Running USA conference.

Yes No Hoping to but plans have not yet been finalized

How large will your event be? Less than 1000 runners 1001-2500 runners 2501-5000 runners 5000 runners or up

Was your SEPT - NOV event(s) moved to fall for 2021, but normally held earlier in the year? Yes No

Have you added any additional (not rescheduled) events from SEPT to NOV now that restrictions are loosening? Yes No

As regulations begin to scale back, how are you feeling about your event business performance in the second half of 2021? Optimistic Pessimistic Neutral


Asheville, NC Dallas/Fort Worth, TX Denver, CO Louisville, KY New Orleans, LA Scottsdale, AZ

Have you attended a Running USA conference in 2019, 2020, or plan to attend in 2022? Yes No

Would you rather attend a location where everything is under one roof, or a location with lots to do outside the conference? Everything under one roof Lots to do outside of conference No preference

Have a great idea for a location? Submit it!

The Running Industry Diversity Coalition was formed to create a more equitable and inclusive running industry where race, religion, gender identity, sexuality, immigration status, socioeconomic status, and ability do not serve as barriers for full enjoyment. We exist to increase representation and access to employment, leadership and power for those who have historically been excluded from the running industry. We will work with all aspects of the run community, including but not limited to retailers, brands, national organizations, events, clubs, non-profits, and local businesses to improve until we can all truly say, running is for everybody.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. RIDC - Run with Us You matter to our movement. The strength of a coalition, and this one in particular, is the inclusion of diverse voices while working together to positively impact our world. You may have been working on DEI issues for years or you may be just stepping forward to learn how you can start. We accept you and your organization wherever you are on this journey. We are now a 501c3 non profit and accepting donations.

Find us at runningdiversity.com and @runningdiversity on Instagram.


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