Race Director’s Corner – People Get Ready! by Bob Fleshner

blog shoeIt’s April.   April Fool’s Day.  Tax Day.  Opening Day.  Lots of memorable days, but none as memorable as American Odyssey Relay days!

Time to prep.  To get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.  But, enough about you.  How about us? What do race directors need to do in the month leading up to the big event?  Isn’t that really what you want to know?  If not, just humor us!  Here’s OUR short list, then we’ll get to you.  Permits.  Police.  Beer.  Start Times.  Cones.  Signs.  Beer.  Food.  Lights.  EMTs.  T-shirts.  Freddy.  Volunteers. Staff assignments.  Race numbers.  Beer.  Pancakes.  Race start and finish line set ups.  Did we mention beer?

Well, enough about us.  You and your teammates need to get your respective acts together, so we are here to help with that, too.  Here are a few big things to remember:

  1. Have fun—This is a FUN event more than it is a competitive event. It will work out.  If something goes wrong, just shake it off. You will get to Gettysburg.  You will have a blast.  You will go home with countless memories.  So, let it go, don’t get all shook up…
  2. Plan—Funny how planning can lower the stress level!  Someone needs to be in charge of leg assignments, but someone else can do driving assignments and food and drink assignments.  Share the glory.
  3. Use our checklist—(click here for the Relay Handbook )—We’ve done this enough times that we know what we’re talking about.  Consider our suggestions and follow what makes sense for you.
  4. Be spirited—Cheer on other teams. Find Freddy (wait, what?).  Get dressed in tutus.  Decorate your van.  Forgot that fantasy life you lead the other 363 days of the year, it’s real life on April 29-30th!  Nothing compares.  Take full advantage of all there is along the course from sight seeing to interacting with other teams to bantering with volunteers.
  5. Read the course directions—Know where you are going when you run. Familiarize yourself with the directions before you drive.  We’ve created them for you so that you won’t get lost and stressed out!
  6. Phones/music/headphones—Carry your phone on the course for safety. You should carry it during the day.  You are required to carry it at night.  No exceptions!  We don’t want to get the call from your van that you are missing on the course and you didn’t bring your phone because you just knew you wouldn’t get lost.  Now, the good news is that every single runner who was ever lost and running in prior years has been found.  The bad news is that some of them ran a bunch more than they were anticipating because they didn’t bring their directions or their phones and they got off course.  But, while we want you to bring your phones for safety, we can’t allow you to use them with headphones during the hours between 7:30 PM and 6:00 AM–non-negotiable!  Remember, safety first!
  7. Give us an accurate predicted pace—(Right now the American Odyssey Relay veterans are saying “is he really getting into this again?”) This is as important for you as it is for us. What difference does it make?  You will tend to be conservative here and understate what you think is possible.  So, you will say 9:30 per mile when your team is really capable of, say, 8:45.  You’ll think you’ll be slower because one leg is at night.  And you won’t be sleeping.  And you’re all (every last one of you) undertrained and fighting off injuries.  We’ve heard every excuse ever imagined and you know what?  None of them come to pass.  Everyone runs to their fastest 10K time for all three legs.  Almost without fail.  So, get over yourselves and trust us on this one.  Don’t trust us?  Then go ahead and be overly conservative.  That will put you in a start time that’s earlier than appropriate.  What will that do?  Well, it will make you think you are winning the whole damn relay until…we are forced to hold you back because you are in front of our safety personnel and our volunteers. Hmm.  That doesn’t sound like fun, especially since we’ll use your team as an example of what NOT to do for years to come…

This year, unlike previous years, we are leaving you in charge of weather.  Make sure it’s beautiful or we just may bail and not show up.  Remember it’s April, so be prepared.  Have you ever seen the rain in April?  Okay, fine, I’ll be there, rain or shine.

One last thing.  Come up to us and introduce yourselves.  One of my favorite things about putting on this event is the interaction with our runners!

Editor’s note:  Did you notice what Bob did here?  How many song titles did he pepper throughout this blog post??  Please comment below with a NUMBER only – don’t give away the actual titles.  The person who guesses the most accurately (and can prove it when we contact him/her!) will win something cool….

Comments 5

    1. We may have to call you out on that number! Unless we’re better than we thought. BTW, did you see Angela’s question about who’s Freddy? We may need to get you involved in the answer. . . .

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