Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Race Director's Obsessions...cones and sponsors

Race Directors, at least this one, are an obsessive bunch. We sort of have to be, keeping track of all sorts of details, contacts, dates, processes......

Two of my latest obsessions: cones and sponsors!

Sponsors for obvious reasons! Still looking for good sponsors for Good Karma 5K! Anyone?

Cones you ask? What sorts of cones? Traffic cones of course! At Run Scared last year we had a volunteer not get to a critical turning point in time for the fast runners, a huge mistake, one that I still feel sick whenever I think about. Since that moment I have been obsessed with traffic cones. If only I would have had traffic cones I could have prevented the whole mess. So, when I started this business one of the first things I did was start my search to buy cones.

I don't know if you realize this, but cones are expensive, I mean, really expensive. Prohibitively so, especially considering to mark a course fully you would need a good number of cones and delineators (which I found out quickly is the technical term for those long tall skinny orange sticks). So I did what all good modern people do, turned to Craigslist. Almost every day I do a search for cones. I managed to find someone selling a whole car load for only $40. But, still its not enough, I need more cones!!!!

If you pay attention you will see them everywhere, they sort of follow you around, taunting you, "take me, I am abandoned!" Useless traffic cones can be seen every day, on your drive to work, on your run around the lake, walking to the grocery store, in line at the airport.....they are everywhere! They are always so tempting to pick up, nobody would notice, right?

My biggest question regarding cones: when do they actually transform from someone's property to abandoned junk, of which picking them up would be considered a good act, an environmental cleanup of sorts?

I realize it's sort of a weird obsession, one that is probably unique to construction workers and race directors. Which is why, I get made fun of for pointing out cones all the time, which is why someone gave me this handy toy, so I can stare at it and fantasize about cones all day!

Anyone have good cones they would like me to keep warm and dry in a nice storage unit!?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Am I Crazy!?

This past weekend a friend of mine and I participated in not one, but two events, on the same day, the Mercer Island Half Marathon and the Big Climb up Columbia Tower. Are we crazy!? Apparently we are. I did something very 'type A' runner like and compared the two results lists and cross referenced participant's names to see how many people did both. I was expecting about 20 or 30, nope, 4 of us in total! We are crazy!

The Mercer Island Half was amazing, the weather was perfect for the first day of Spring. One thing that really stands out for that race (from a race director's perspective) is the volunteer base. When I arrived at the expo the day before the race I was greeted with volunteers directing traffic, for an expo!? How great. As I was lucky enough to find a spot in the community center parking lot I was greeted by yet another volunteer at my car telling me where to go. When I arrived at the door I was then ushered down the stairs where I saw literally a wall of volunteers at the packet pickup tables. It was efficient, friendly and most of all it was the right number, plenty of supportive volunteers.

Then at the race itself there was practically a volunteer for every thinkable position. There was someone with a megaphone telling people where the start line was and how much time they had left to use the facilities, there was someone directing traffic, there was someone handing out water. On the course there was practically a volunteer at every intersection and at every wealthy driveway (which is quite a number on Mercer Island).

Kudos to Mercer Island's volunteers. Next time you see a volunteer at a race, tell them thank you, they are there early on a Sunday just to support you and your efforts. And, if you are injured or just taking it easy for the season, sign up to be a volunteer at a race, you will see all the efforts that go into planning these things. If you need a volunteer opportunity, we are still looking for volunteers for Good Karma 5K! Email us and let us know!

As for the Big Climb, well, what a challenge or organization, thousands of people, all racing at different times, in two different stairwells. Add in massages, donations, food, timing, gear check, volunteers, two separate recovery floors, waterstops, emotionally charged posters on every floor, and parking and you have a logistics nightmare on your hands! But the team at The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society always pulls it off with grace. Everyone around me was having a great time, despite the pain for the 15-20 minutes of the climb itself.

Most importantly for both these events, they each raised a TON of money for their respective charities. That is what I like to see the most.

Crazy or not, we both had a fantastic day, went home and ate all we could eat and then fell over, exhausted! What's next!?

Next I get to experience the biggest event I have ever participated in, the 40,000 runner Paris Marathon! Stay tuned for a full report, just have to get through my long run this weekend first!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

To Charity or Not

That is the question.

A social entrepreneur is someone who "recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change (a social venture). While a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur focuses on creating social capital. Thus, the main aim of social entrepreneurship is to further social and environmental goals." (Wikipedia).

When I started this company one of my goals was to be as transparent as possible when it came to where the money raised was going, how much was going to where and what all of my costs were. I did not want to be one of those races that generically states "a portion of the proceeds goes to X" and in reality 1% goes to charity. Some local races have gotten in trouble for that and I wanted no part of it, even if it meant losing a few participants who didn't think the percentage was high enough.

For the upcoming Good Karma 5K I decided to put in the advertising how much was going to the charities. After much number crunching I figured out that 50% was a good percentage. Run for Good was recently bashed in the comments section of an online local newspaper piece for having 50%, not 100% of the proceeds go to the causes for Good Karma 5K. It raises a good point about these kinds of events. If you advertise as benefiting a charity, must 100% of the proceeds go to that cause? My answer is no, this is found money for these organizations who now will get these funds, and needed publicity without the drain on staff or the usual donor base, all the while making a small profit for the company. After all, we are still in the growing stages of this company and we have to be careful about sustaining the business to bring more great events to help more people in the future. We would have loved to have donated more, perhaps next year.

Is that not the definition of social entrepreneurship?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Welcome to Run for Good

Welcome to Run for Good's new blog! Run for Good Racing Company is a Seattle based running company dedicated to putting on fun, unique running events that benefit the community. Run for Good was founded by Ilana Balint (the author) after having being laid off from a PR job, finding myself with a lot of time on my hands and not wanting to be idle. I decided to put on a 5K fundraiser for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and threw together Run Scared in a matter of a few months. We got about 150 participants, not bad for a first year, no budget production!

The next year, I was still unemployed so I decided to organize Run Scared for a second time. This time around we got over 800 participants! I thought to myself, "OK, could I do this for a living?" and the answer was yes! The next month my unemployment ran out and I started Run for Good.

The concept behind it is to be a business whose sole purpose is not to make money, but whose purpose is to help local nonprofits with much needed fund-raising support, to get the community healthy, to provide a great outlet for those wanting to do some good with not a lot of time on their hands and to have fun and perhaps make a living at the same time.

So, here we are, months later, painstaking bookkeeping, licensing, insurance issues and tedious business stuff out of the way, with a race coming up, Good Karma 5K on May 29th. It will be Seattle's only choose your own charity race, check out the website for all the fun details.