Race Directing

The People Factor

There are roughly six month between now and when the starting gun goes off at my first 5K. That is, the first 5K for which I am race director. To say that I am overwhelmed in an understatement. I have more questions than answers. And when I do get answers, they yield more questions. There are just so many logistical elements that I’ve taken for granted at every race I have ever run.

Right now, the people factor is most overwhelming. Even though I had an encouraging meeting with my team leads this week, I am still not comfortable commanding a meeting and delegating tasks. Instead, I’d much rather be supporting the leadership behind the scenes. As a born-organized person, the art of administration comes naturally to me. Simply put: I get things done. But this being in charge of other people who are supposed to be getting things done for me is feels foreign. Like I’m running in someone else’s size 12 shoes.

So I am leaning on my strengths — the organization — and distributed a pre race, race day, and post race list of to-dos for each team lead at the meeting. I also gave each of them an assignment for our January meeting; most of their tasks involve drafting plans and brainstorming ideas to discuss in January, when the ball will really start rolling. I have our monthly team lead meetings, mandatory volunteer meeting, and debriefing meeting on the calendar through next July. And I am doing my best to do one race-related thing every day, or at least several days a week. Some days, I just need to follow up with a phone call or an email. Some days it’s completing research and making a decision. And some days it’s just a list of next actions for the following week.

The holidays are a crummy time to start thinking about an endeavor like this one. In my experience, it’s hard to build any momentum in the planning and everyone — even myself — is unmotivated to do much more than get through December. But I feel good about my team, and the tasks I’ve asked them to tackle for our January meeting are not unreasonable. So we’ll get through Christmas and New Year’s and then see what our plans hold in January.

Have you ever directed a race (or organized a large event)? What advice do you have for leading a team?

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One thought on “The People Factor

  1. Thank you so much for writing your thoughts, ideas and things you have figured out. I am organizing a race as we speak for the second week in October 2014 in honor of my dad and grandma who both died of lung cancer. To say this isn’t easy is a total understatement!

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