How many times do I hear that favorite phrase from the "Wizard of Oz" repeated. It's often stated by people when talking about the magic that occurs when performing some task. I've had a lot of opportunity this year to see some of the magic performed at various events and the often craziness that occurs behind the scenes. Sometimes the participants know and oftentimes they don't.
When talking to various race directors, organizers, volunteers, and other event staff, I'm often amused at the things that happen that no one even knows about. Some are really funny and others a little more serious. As a race director myself, I have learned over the years to expect anything. You have to learn to be really good at rolling with the punches. I've seen situations this year with crazy weather, locked gates, stolen water stations, misplaced packets, volunteers not showing, bib mixups, late arriving crews, police at wrong locations, missing data, failed hardware, invalid permits, sabotage, etc. The list goes on and on. Some of the situations are downright maddening and could be avoided while others are just happenstance and really no ones fault.
The one thing that I have learned from all of this over time though is that as a race director, you have to keep it all in perspective. It's not a matter of "if" something will occur, but "when". As an event coordinator, you learn to take it in stride and simply work around the issue. This is not to say that bad things always occur, but you have to be aware and ready when they do. Some race directors are really good at it while others simply fall apart and start throwing people under the bus. I've worked with some really good directors over the years who were great at handling the issues. They recognize that things can go wrong and they simply find a way around them. I'm sure we all know people who are great at handling crisis. On the other hand, I've also worked with many organizers who were quick to cast blame everywhere and start throwing tantrums. It's counter-productive and doesn't really get the issues resolved. It may make them feel better but it alienates everyone around them. It's easy to direct when everything works according to plan, but only the best can navigate when it doesn't. If you're the kind of person who expects nothing less than perfection and doesn't tolerate problems well, then this is not the business to get involved with.
I know that many of you have considered directing a race or getting involved with a race and helping out a favorite non-profit or other organization. I would highly encourage you to do that as it can be really rewarding. Give Athlete Guild a call. We can help prepare you for your event and all eventualities. It is certainly rewarding to do.
See you at the race!