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Head Start

Head Start is a podcast for race directors and anyone involved in the business of putting on races. It doesn't matter where you're based or how many years experience you have or whether you're putting on a running race, a triathlon, an obstacle race or whatever. If you’ve got an interest in planning and organising races, there should be value for you in following this podcast.The focus of the podcast is twofold: 1) bringing you the latest and coolest innovations hitting the mass-participation endurance events industry, and 2) bringing you expert tips and actionable advice to help you improve your race - one episode at a time.Head Start is produced by Race Directors HQ, an online resource platform and community network for race directors and race management professionals.

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Selling Sponsorships

Selling sponsorships is arguably the biggest chronic challenge race directors face. Many race directors simply don’t like doing it, others don’t know where to start, and perhaps some have even given up after multiple frustrations and disappointments.My guest today, Ben Pickel, is the Director of Sales and Strategy at Life Time Events. Ben has been working for years in the front lines of sponsorship sales, and knows a thing or two about the ups and downs of event sponsorship. His advice? Know your event. Understand what a sponsor needs. Accept that not everyone will say ‘yes’. And just go for it with integrity, perseverance and confidence in what you’ve  built and what you have to offer. Today’s episode is a long one - the longest we’ve done so far, in fact. But there was just so much ground to cover with Ben, from finding and approaching sponsors, to negotiating and closing sponsorship deals, so I hope you’ll bear with us till the end.In this episode: re-establishing the value of sponsorship when talking with sponsors post-COVIDwhat sponsors are trying to achieve through sponsorshipthe difference between engagement-focused sponsors and sales-focused sponsorshow to manage sales-focused sponsorsthe importance of having sponsors that align with your event's brand and identitywhat event assets sponsors are interested inhow to approach your first sponsor meetinghow to figure out which person to contact in the sponsor organizationthe importance of reaching out to sponsors in the first few weeks after the end of your eventhow to present demographics for your audience in sponsorship proposalsthe pros and cons of using sponsorship packages (e.g. Gold, Silver, Bronze)setting a price for sponsorship: how you would know whether you're over- or under-pricing sponsorshipwhy most race directors tend to under-price sponsorshipthe pitfalls of offering sponsorship discountswhy you should focus on activating lower-paying sponsorships one-year vs multi-year sponsorships title sponsorships: are the right for your event?the value of in-kind sponsorshipshow to deal with rejections from sponsors and how to make the most of a negative outcomeThanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 22,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about sponsorships or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

1hr 37mins

26 Jul 2021

Rank #1

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Race Trends: Summer 2021

With races starting to come back, and at least a hint of normalcy slowly returning to the endurance events market, it’s a good time to take stock of where we currently are on the road to recovery. Are more participants signing up for races? Are they signing up later, as some race directors have suggested? Are in-person races making a strong comeback? And what about virtual races which dominated events for most of last year? We’ll be answering these questions and more today with the help of my guests, Johanna Goode and Bob Bickel from GiveSignup|RunSignup. With registration data coming in from thousands of races, GiveSignup|RunSignup is in a pretty unique position to be able to provide actual data-driven insights into what’s happening in the market - and, as we’ll see, the conclusions coming out of the data are not always what you’d expect.In this episode:Total registrations volume is still down, but recoveringIn-person races are making a strong comeback, but virtual races are still a thingEntry fees are starting to normalize towards 2019 levels Contrary to anecdotal evidence, the data doesn't support the narrative that participants are registering later than usualNo clear evidence right now that more first-time racers are entering eventsDownward trend in participation for younger audiences continuesThanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about the findings in this episode or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

46mins

12 Jul 2021

Rank #2

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Kids Runs

Does your race offer a kids run alongside your main events? If not, you could be missing out on a great opportunity to make your race more attractive for families, as well as getting a few more sponsors on board that may not normally take an interest in sponsoring your race. Lucie Murray of specialised kids run production company Run Kids Run has been managing kids runs for some of the largest races on the West Coast, including the LA Marathon, Surf City Marathon and Santa Monica Classic. She is an expert in developing youth and family programs for races, and on this episode she’ll be sharing with us her insights on how to put on a successful kids run, how to make it work alongside your adult races, as well as some tips for monetising your kids run through sponsorships with family-oriented brands and businesses.Things covered in this episode:The benefits of adding a kids run to your raceManaging kid runners (and overeager parents!)Ensuring your kid runners' safety and privacy protectionSwag: kid wants what mommy/daddy got! + more...Marking the most of your kids run: family registration, kids zones, kids run sponsorship opportunitiesThanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about kids runs, race family activities or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

1hr 4mins

5 Jul 2021

Rank #3

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Notpla/Ooho

When it comes to waste in the endurance events industry, water bottles are the big plastic elephant in the room. So it’s no surprise that a great deal of effort has recently been going into finding ways to tackle the problem of plastic bottle waste in races. Today, we're talking to Lise Honsinger, CFO & COO of Notpla, a UK-based company pioneering the use of edible packaging. Notpla’s flagship edible sachet, Ooho, has been used in the London Marathon and many other races across the world with great success as a totally safe, naturally biodegradable substitute for plastic bottles. So it’s a great treat to have Lise tell us more about it today.Things covered in this episode:A short history of Notpla, the company revolutionizing edible packagingWhat is Ooho? What is it made of? What liquids can it hold? How do you consume it?Ooho as an alternative to water bottles in racesRunner feedback from using Ooho in the London MarathonGetting Ooho for you race: How many will you need? How much does it cost? How can you order?The future of Notpla and OohoThanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about sustainability, reducing bottle waste or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

48mins

28 Jun 2021

Rank #4

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Charity Partnerships

Having a charity partner is sometimes a bit of an afterthought for many race directors. And yet, there’s so many benefits to getting a charity involved with your event, from increased participation and volunteer recruitment opportunities to even higher likelihood of closing sponsorship agreements. Well, today, I’m talking to industry veteran Susan Hurley, Founder of CharityTeams, about how to approach charities, what to expect out of a charity partnership and how to make the most of this underappreciated opportunity for your event.Things covered in this episode:Why partnering your race can help your race registrations, volunteer recruitment, community buy-in and sponsorship prospectsWhat charity partners expect from your eventHow to research and do due diligence on potential charity partnersHow to pitch your event to your shortlisted charity partner candidatesHow to structure your charity giveback in a way that best aligns your interests with those of your charity partnerHow to set up a charity program for your raceThanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about charity partnerships and fundraising or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

44mins

21 Jun 2021

Rank #5

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Bluetooth Timing

Professional race timing is one of those things everyone’s come to expect when entering a race. And, for more than three decades, RFID has been the undisputed gold standard when it comes to timing races.But, with new technologies coming on to the market, cheaper and more widely available alternatives to RFID timing are fast becoming a reality. Alternatives like Bluetooth, which can be programmed to deliver highly accurate race times at a fraction of the cost of RFID.Does that mean you could soon be timing your race on your own, using just a pair of phones? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to be getting into today with my guest, Atlas Live Tracking Founder, Jean-Louis Lafayeedney.Things covered in this episode:Bluetooth race timing: what it is and how it worksTags and components for a Bluetooth timing systemSetting up multiple timing points using a Bluetooth timing systemTypes of races Bluetooth timing is best and least suited forBluetooth vs RFID timing accuracyBluetooth vs RFID timing costHow to hire or buy a Bluetooth timing systemThanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about race marketing or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

52mins

14 Jun 2021

Rank #6

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Trail Race Safety

On May 22nd, tragedy struck when severe weather hit the Huanghe Shilin Mountain Marathon in China. Caught between checkpoints along the 100km race course, runners found themselves exposed to hail and freezing rain at 3,000ft. When rescue teams finally reached the area, 21 people had died. Today we're talking to Lindley Chambers: race director, first aider and former Chair of the UK Trail Running Association, about what went wrong in that fateful race and how trail race directors (and race directors of all kinds of races) can work to better prepare themselves and their events for when the worst happens.Things covered in this episode:Huanghe Shilin Mountain Marathon: What went wrong?How to write a sound, common-sense risk assessment/emergency plan for your race without going overboardDeciding on how many safety personnel you'll needWill runners be happy to pay a premium for a safer, but more expensive, race?Things race directors can do to better prepare participants for risks they might face in a raceShould there be more regulation and/or special certification requirements for high-risk races?What should go into a participant mandatory gear listReferences:Why the Ultra-Race Tragedy in China Wasn’t Surprising (Outside)Thanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events, visit runsignup.com.You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about race safety or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

1hr 19mins

7 Jun 2021

Rank #7

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Marketing Races in 2021

2021 is shaping up to be a year of two halves for the endurance events industry. The first half, like most of 2020, has been an almost total write-off. The second? That is shaping up to be one of the busiest race seasons ever, with oversaturated race calendars and intense competition among events for participants making their return to racing.So, what should you be doing to promote your race in this market?  And what channels and strategies should you focus on to stand out from the competition? I’ll be getting into all that and more in today’s episode with the help of my guest, Big Run Media Managing Partner, Thomas Neuberger. Things covered in this episode:Lessons learned from marketing The Woodlands Marathon (sell-out event in Texas that took place in early March 2021)How participant signup patterns have shifted towards late registration - and will remain so for the foreseeable futureFacebook ads: Do they still offer good value for marketing your race?The rise of Instagram The importance of race photos in expanding your race reachPromoting your race with Strava clubsDon't miss in this episode: Thomas' tips for helping your race stand out among major races this fallThe one thing about your race you need to be advertising as soon as you can (hint: it's the swag!)Thanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about race marketing or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

56mins

31 May 2021

Rank #8

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Trees not Tees

Waste is a big problem in the events industry and endurance events are no exception. And it’s not only about water bottle waste. Sometimes the things we offer our participants, like medals and T-shirts, end up discarded or in a cupboard somewhere never to see the light of day again.Change may be just around the corner though. In today's episode we'll be hearing from Chris Zair on how UK-based Trees not Tees is helping race directors offer participants the option of planting a tree instead of (or often on top of) receiving the traditional finisher shirt and medal.It's a really interesting discussion with lots of details on how the Trees not Tees model could incentivize change in the industry through a win-win for participants and race directors alike.Things covered in this episode:How Trees not Tees was born from the frustration of trail runner, Jim MannThe Trees not Tees model: good for participants, good for race directors, good for sponsors, good for the environment.The economics of Trees not Tees: What does it cost for the race director to offer a tree-planting option? What does it cost Trees not Tees to plant the trees? The secret sauce: How can Trees not Tees plant trees at a loss and still make it work in the log run (hopefully!)Trees not Tees' ambitious roadmap for planting 50 million trees by 2025Don't miss in this episode:How Trees not Tees' sustainable reforestation at scale helps turn wasteland into vibrant wild ecosystems Trees not Tees' plans for US expansionThanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.You can also share your questions about race waste, sustainability or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

58mins

24 May 2021

Rank #9

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Race Insurance in the Age of Pandemics

To say it's been a challenging year for the endurance events industry would be an understatement. So what can we learn from what we’ve been through to help us improve the way we manage risk in the events industry going forward? That’s what we’ll be exploring in today's episode with the help of our guest, Nathan Nicholas, Managing Partner at specialist insurance broker Nicholas Hill Group. When it comes to 1-in-1,000-type risks in the industry, Nathan has dealt with it all, from severe weather and natural catastrophes to terrorism and, now, pandemics. So he’s the right person to help us understand what happens when things like COVID come around, how events are affected, and how they can protect themselves going forward with the help of event cancellation insurance. Things covered in this episode:What's been happening in the race insurance industry during the COVID pandemicRace cancellation insurance: What is it? What does it cover? Does it pay out? How much does it cost? Communicable disease cover: What is it? Is it part of your race cancellation policy? Can you buy COVID cover today?The state of race insurance as the world (and races) begins to open upA brief look at virtual event insurance: Do you need it? What does it cover? How much does it cost?Don't miss in this episode:The remarkable story of a mystery event which got hit with terrorism, thunderstorm and COVID in consecutive years and had to cancel the race two years in a rowNathan's take on whether COVID infections in your event would be covered by your insurance policyThanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 21,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.You can find more free resources on planning, promoting and organizing  races on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com, where you’ll also find a 10% OFF offer on race insurance from Nicholas Hill Group, as well as other exclusive vendor offers. You can also share your questions about race insurance or anything else in our race directors Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

53mins

17 May 2021

Rank #10