Going to Vegas

About

I've been directing events for several years now and thoroughly enjoy it.  I didn't start out to be a director but actually lucked into it.  My first event was the Jingle Bell 5K held in New Braunfels.  A friend asked me to direct it as she was tired of doing it, so I naively agreed.  That was the beginning of a long journey that finally led to creating my own race management and timing company.  We now manage or time many events; several of which we own.  I look back on those early days with some really good memories and realize how far the road has been to get where we are today.  I have a lot of appreciation and respect for those individuals who are willing to take a leap of faith and put on an event.

Most people who participate in events will never experience the highs and lows that come with coordinating an event of any size.  There probably isn't a lot of thought into how much work goes into the planning, coordinating, and execution of an event.  Some race directors make it look really easy and effortless while others seem to really struggle with it.  Regardless of which spectrum the director falls, they are owed a debt of gratitude to do what they do.  You think about the number of events that are conducted every weekend and it is mind boggling.  Some of these events will produce a lot of money for the organizer and organization while others will barely break even or possibly even lose money.

The one common denominator for all events regardless of size is the desire to turn a profit.  No race director or organization wants to put on an event that loses money or simply breaks even.  Many might think that people put on events because of altruism but those are really rare.  Companies might put on an internal run or a member organization might host an appreciation run, but the vast majority of races are conducted because someone is looking to raise funds for some cause whether for profit or charity.  Putting on an event though is very much like going to Vegas.  There is no guarantee of success.

I work with a lot of different organizations both new and old who contact me about helping them with their event.  One of the first questions that I always ask is the purpose for the event and why they want to do it.  I am always honest with them and provide a realistic assessment of their goals.  The problem is that people look at an event and don't realize that not only is there a lot of work to do, but that there are a lot of fixed costs into hosting an event.  To do it right there are several things that have to be done and they all cost money.  A typical race will involve permits, insurance, security, venue rental, marketing, and that's before the first person even signs up.  Then there is the cost of t-shirts, awards, food, drink, cups, safety pins, bibs, etc., and most of those costs increase with the number of participants but there is also a minimum cost.  For example, t-shirts usually require a minimum order and they can be quite expensive in low quantity.  You also have to order those a week or so prior to the event so many times you are taking a gamble on the final turnout.  I'm always amused when I get a race director in a panic several weeks from a race because they don't have many participants signed up yet and they need to order their shirts.  It's really tough because we all know that most people don't sign up until the week or so prior to the event, so we have to order based on what we think rather than what we know.  It's not a game for everyone and many race directors find that they aren't cut out for the stress.

I liken it to going to Vegas because with an event you are really rolling the dice and hoping to hit jackpot but there is the real possibility of going bust.  That is why I really admire those individuals who are willing to take the risk and put forth the effort.  The next time you go to a race, take the time and thank the race director and organizers for their willingness to make it happen.  It's obvious, but without them there wouldn't be any events.

See you at the race!

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