I was just tallying up my races for the year and I realized that I have run 18 races this year and I’ll run 2 more (at least) before 2015 closes out. That’s a lot of racing. I always think about how much WORK is it. When I recently had the opportunity to interview the Race Director of Pacers Running (one of my favorite local running stores), I jumped at the chance. I’ve run a number of Pacer’s races (from the Clarendon Day 5k and 10k to the Freedom Four Miler and many more) and I’m always impressed by how well organized the races are. Well, Lisa Reeves is the woman behind all that. Read on to answer the question “what do Race Directors actually do?” and get a little insight to the other side of racing.
- Tell me a bit more about yourself – how did you get into running and how long have you been running?I started running in 2006 and got into longer distance running in 2007. My friends and I were talking during the 06’ holidays about what we could do the following year that would be a good challenge for us with regard to New Year resolutions. We liked the fact that there was a “007” in the new year and considered what James Bond might do…so we decided to sign up for the Marine Corps. Marathon. We had already run a number of Pacers Running races (at that time I was still working as a development manager for a local non-profit) so why not “up the ante” and take on a 26.2.
- Aside from the very successful Pacers stores around the area, how did race directing come about? Race directing at Pacers Running started with my predecessor (and best friend) Kathy Dalby and her business partner Chris Farley back in 2005. Determined to join the masses in any way to give back to the New Orleans communities that had suffered catastrophic loss from Hurricane Katrina, they organized a benefit fundraiser 5K. Partnering with Alexandria residents James Carville and Mary Matalin with support from Mizuno USA; the first 5K race for Pacers Running generated $120K in proceeds being donated to the American Red Cross Hurricane 2005 Relief Fund and had 4,000 participants.
- What is the first thing you do when preparing for a race?On my ride in to work the morning of a race I am always sure to have a LARGE cup of coffee and play some music to get my head in the game – typically it’s either Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” or Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us”.
- What is something that most people would have no idea that race directors do? Get their hands dirty.I’m not sure about others, but for me I’ll use this example; pick up trash. I am a firm believer of leading by action and example…having the title “Race Director” ultimately means the responsibility of success or failure of any event is in my hands…but the bottom line is that race directors are only as good as their team…and I have the BEST CREW on the east coast and will always get my hands dirty with them to provide the best race experience possible for our participants.
- Can you walk us through the process for taking a race from beginning to end? In a nutshell when someone contacts Pacers looking for support and information on race production what I provide them looks something like this: First choose a race date and determine your course selection (best to choose a certified course OR have the one you’re developing certified). Form a race committee or team to keep everything on track – it’s really hard to pull it off if you’re only on person. File your permitting and obtain insurance. Confirm police and medical requirement/support within your municipality. Create a logo, race flyer and website for registration and to advertise and promote the event. Don’t forget you’ll need bibs, safety pins and some sort of runner premium is typically offered, ie. shirts, hats etc. On race day you’ll need a solid group of staff/volunteers to support on race day on course for runner directionals, at the water station, finish line refreshment area, packet pick up, awards, etc. We offer a “Race Director” handbook to folks interested in organizing their own races in an effort to be a good resource to the community.
- What are your favorite and least favorite things about being a race director? Oddly enough the least favorite thing for me about being a race director are the early mornings (and by early morning’s I refer to waking up before 4am– there are plenty of those days). My favorite thing about being a race director is the opportunity to advocate for the sport if running and to offer the community a way to be healthy and get moving. Our tagline is #ForEveryRun and our mission (my mission for every event) is to offer the same quality experience to every participant, whether you are an elite runner, middle of the pack runner, first time runner, walker or someone who is physically challenged. For example at all of our races I have the honor of hosting Jamie Watts who has Cerebral Palsy and it is always my goal to be strong in our accessibility and provide the same experience for everyone.
- If you had one piece of advice for race participants, what would it be? Have fun…if you aren’t having fun, then you’re doing something wrong.
- What upcoming races does Pacers have on the horizon – why should runners participate? Upcoming races are:
- Veterans Day 10K and Tidal Basin Walk on Sunday November 8th in West Potomac Park, WDC.
- Fairfax Turkey Trot 5K on Thursday November 26th in the City of Fairfax…this is a family fun event where you definitely can burn off a few calories before the BIG meal AND a portion of proceeds benefit the City of Fairfax Fire Department Benevolent Fund.
- Jingle All The Way 5K on Sunday December 6th in downtown Washington DC starting and finishing at Freedom Plaza.
- Fairfax Four Miler in the City of Fairfax on New Year’s Eve which is a great event to kick off your New Year running resolutions.
Our events are well organized and fun; we have great courses, team competitions, costume contests, photo-booths, post-race festivities and some pretty cool swag to boot!
Thank you, Lisa! If you are local to the DC area, please check out Pacers Running for all your running and racing needs (I love that they carry Oiselle in store!) and check out their newest location over at Navy Yard (close to me, yay!!).
What would you ask a race director if you had the chance?