75 episodes

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, organizing and growing endurance events, this is the podcast for you.
The focus of the podcast is twofold:
1) we bring you the latest and coolest innovations hitting the mass-participation endurance events industry, and
2) we bring you tips and actionable advice from industry experts to help you improve your race - one episode at a time.
Head Start is produced by RaceDirectorsHQ.com, an online resource platform and community network for race directors and race management professionals.

Head Start Race Directors HQ

    • Sports
    • 4.7 • 15 Ratings

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, organizing and growing endurance events, this is the podcast for you.
The focus of the podcast is twofold:
1) we bring you the latest and coolest innovations hitting the mass-participation endurance events industry, and
2) we bring you tips and actionable advice from industry experts to help you improve your race - one episode at a time.
Head Start is produced by RaceDirectorsHQ.com, an online resource platform and community network for race directors and race management professionals.

    Race Trends 2023

    Race Trends 2023

    It’s that time of the year again. RunSignup’s annual RaceTrends report is out for 2023, and it’s larger and more comprehensive than ever before!

    Among the most notable trends highlighted in the report we see registrations for 2023 races up from 2022 and tantalisingly close to 2019 levels, entry fees continuing to climb across most race distances and event types, and encouraging trends in younger runner participation first seen in 2022 carrying through to 2023 numbers.

    With me today to go through the data, the trends and their implications, I’m delighted to welcome back to the podcast RunSignup’s Director of Marketing, Johanna Goode. Among other things, Johanna is the person we all have to thank for compiling this invaluable piece of industry research each year, and with her help we’ll try to get a feel for where the industry ended up in 2023 and make sense of what the future might hold for race directors in 2024 and beyond.

    As with RaceTrends reports we’ve looked at in the past in the podcast, we’ll only have time to go through the most important highlights from the report, so if you’d like to get your hands on the full set of findings, head over to runsignup.com where you’ll be able to find and download your free report copy. 

    In this episode:
    The methodology and data behind RunSignup's RaceTrends reportAre we back to 2019 registration levels?Are race timing companies disappearing?Repeat participation numbers across different events and how to increase repeat participation in your racesThe importance of integrated email marketing Why are larger races continuing to lag behind smaller races in participation growth?Are virtual events still around?Participation trends in the 18-29 age group and how to foster higher participation among younger runnersAre people registering later than they used to?Entry fees are going up, while the number of price increases is going downThe rise of mobile registrations and how to optimise your race website for mobile usersThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

    You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

    You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Instagram & Influencer Marketing

    Instagram & Influencer Marketing

    With more than 2 billion monthly active users (MAUs), Instagram has secured a comfortable lead as the social media platform of choice for the vast majority of online-active almost-30s and 30-somethings out there. And with Instagram’s core audience slowly aging to match running’s demographic sweet spot, it’s really important your race gets its Instagram strategy right soon, if you have an Instagram strategy at all.

    So, how do you master Instagram’s highly-visual storytelling to reach new audiences on the platform? How do you build a consistent brand voice with all the tools Instagram has to offer? And how do you leverage running influencers, user-generated content, freelance contractors and free-to-use graphical design tools to make the most of the limited time and money you can commit to the platform?

    That’s what we’ll be discussing today with returning guest and resident race marketing expert, Andy Reilly. Through his race marketing agency, Eventgrow, Andy has planned and executed online marketing strategies for some of the country’s top running events, including the Buffalo Marathon, Run Catalina and the San Francisco Marathon, and in his past appearances on the podcast has contributed to some of our most popular episodes, most recently a Facebook marketing two-parter that is a must listen if your race is doing anything on Facebook. 

    But, today it’s all about Instagram, and with Andy’s help we’re going to be looking at Instagram from the very high level of strategy and using Instagram alongside Facebook and your other marketing channels, all the way down to the nitty-gritty of image selection, contrast plays, picking catchy headlines and even what types of faces work best on an Instagram ad. Not to mention a very practical 101 crash course on using microinfluencers to extend your brand reach.

    In this episode:
    The evolution of Instagram audience demographics over the yearsInstagram vs Facebook from a user perspectiveEasy-win content ideas for starting out on InstagramIncluding (or excluding) Instagram placements on ad managerThe most efficient way to pick copy/images for your Instagram adWriting copy that works and picking the right creativesPicking images that work: leveraging contrast, choosing happy faces, hero imagesThinking through your Instagram ad funnel, CTAsWorking with freelancers and contract graphic designersPlanning your growth path and spending money on marketingThe importance of using Instagram filters consistently and aligning your style with your brandDriving engagement through humorSharing user-generated contentMicroinfluencers: what are they, where to find them, and what to offer themUsing microinfluencers to generate authentic, engaging content for your raceAssessing ROI for your microinfluencer spendThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

    You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

    You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Designing a Race Course

    Designing a Race Course

    As a race director, few things in the race planning lifecycle can be as exciting and enjoyable as designing a brand new race course. From picking a start area to mapping out race distances and figuring out where to place amenities, such as aid stations, race course design constitutes an important first step in shaping your race’s identity - one that will likely affect all aspects of your race experience, safety planning and logistics for years to come.

    So, how do you nail this critical first step in making your race a reality? How do you design a course that is as enjoyable for participants on the main stage, as it is safe, practical and easily accessible for you, your team and emergency services behind the scenes?

    That’s what we’ll be discussing today with my guest, DMSE Sports’ Director of Events, Meryl Leventon. As industry people go, Meryl’s a Swiss army knife when it comes to race planning and race day ops, and with tons of experience and a plethora of events under her belt, Meryl will help lay out for us the most important principles of effective race course design, from designing for speed and a great race experience to delivering a course that respects host communities and works well in emergencies, should things happen to go wrong around the race.

    In this episode:
    Deciding on a type of course: know your town, know your marketWorking with local authorities on approving your coursePicking and planning out your start/finish areasDesigning your course for a specific distanceWhen you should (and needn't) certify your courseHow to combine different race distances on the same course (and how to think about start times)Fixing course bottlenecks with a good wave start planResponsible course planning: communicating with and minimizing disruption for local communitiesPublishing race day road closures through Google Maps, TomTom and other popular mapping sourcesIncorporating spectator zones in your course planDesigning for safety: emergency planning, access lanes and coordinating with emergency servicesLaying out alternate course contingencies in case of weather disruptionDesigning your course on Google MapsMeryl's lululemon 10K Scottsdale Google Map:
    Public version: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1Ousob6UVaQdHUBuUDL6tByBZfwdPx_A&usp=sharing City, police and internal team version: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1M9T2BNTHaEo-6JIMmRZkgjuXlXfwx6g&usp=sharingThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

    You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

    You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Building a Race Series

    Building a Race Series

    Building a race from the ground up, as anyone who’s done it will know, is a tough business. But what about planning, coordinating and growing a whole series of races, all with a common theme and brand identity?

    How do you finance and grow multiple races from scratch? How do you choose when and where to launch a new race? And how can you make use of local delivery partners to deliver new races on a budget, while ensuring your quality standards and vision are adhered to?

    That’s what we’ll be discussing today with my guest Sam Heward. As the co-founder of Ultra X, the multi-stage ultraramathon world series, Sam has been at the forefront of one of the fastest-growing race series concepts of the last few years, and with his help we’re going to be taking a deep dive into the benefits and challenges of setting up a race series from scratch, including the constant strive for brand consistency, the process of cross-pollinating ideas and small successes between events, and some of the difficulties of coordinating equipment, staff and sponsorship sales across multiple event locations.

    In this episode:
    Spotting gaps in the endurance event marketPutting together a business plan and testing the watersDeveloping a brand that matches the race series' values and mission, and sets it up for long-term successFinding your race series' unique selling proposition in a crowded marketGrowing a race series through repeat participationEngaging with your audience through multiple channels year-roundOutsourcing event planning and operations to local event delivery partners Using registration fees to bootstrap growthLearning and iterating faster with multiple similar events around the yearThe challenges of negotiating series-wide sponsors across multiple regionsThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

    You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

    You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

    • 1 hr 19 min
    Spotlight: Hood to Coast

    Spotlight: Hood to Coast

    First run on a whim in 1982 by Oregon Road Runners Club president Bob Foote with only 8 teams participating in the inaugural race, Hood to Coast has grown from modest beginnings to become a huge success story. More than 40 years on, the race that has come to be known affectionately as “the mother of all relays” now attracts more than a thousand teams from over 40 countries to what is one of the most spectacular 200 mile courses from the top of Mt Hood to the Pacific Ocean.

    So what’s the secret sauce? What is it about this race being able to sell out for the last 30 of its 40 odd race editions? And how is it even possible to pull off recruiting 3,600 volunteers, let alone training and managing them to a tee year in, year out with a core team of just a handful of people?

    That’s what we’ll be digging into today with the help of my guest, Hood to Coast race director, Felicia Hubber. Felicia, being the daughter of the man who started it all and the person driving Hood to Coast’s expansion both domestically and overseas, has literally grown alongside Hood to Coast, having been born the same year as the inaugural event, and she’ll walk us through what makes Hood to Coast so special in the eyes of the thousands of people taking part, the appeal of the mountain-to-sea race concept, the mind-boggling complexities of putting on a relay race at this size, and Hood to Coast’s unique approach to volunteer recruitment and training.

    In this episode:
    The humble beginnings of the mother of all relaysHood to coast: 200 miles from the top of Mt Hood to the world's largest beach party in 36 hoursThe complexities of relay eventsTeam-building at relays: reunions, families, military and corporate teamsEnforcing HTC's many strict race rulesManaging 3,600 volunteers along a 200 mile courseHTC's unorthodox approach to volunteer recruitment: requiring local teams to provide 3 volunteers each to qualifyStreamlining volunteer training via online video training coursesThe economics of relay racing for race organizersTransitioning HTC to a B CorpExporting the mountain-to-sea concept overseas: HTC's international expansionThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

    You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

    You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

    • 1 hr 19 min
    Supporting Female Athletes

    Supporting Female Athletes

    Racing has come a long way since the days when women were being told that running the marathon would cause your uterus to fall out. And with women now making up 54% of all race registrations in the US, according to RunSignup’s 2022 RaceTrends report, you’d think there’d be very little holding women back from racing in this third decade of the 21st century.

    That, however, is not the reality for most women out there, according to today’s guest, SheRACES founder and GB team ultrarunner, Sophie Power. Whether it’s images of uniformly male start lines, lack of reasonable pregnancy deferral policies or unnecessarily aggressive race cut-off times, races still - knowingly or unknowingly - put up more visible and invisible barriers for female athletes than they should - or realize. And that means fewer women at start lines, fewer women signing up for races and fewer women thinking they belong in the world of endurance sports racing. 

    So what are those barriers holding women back and what can race directors do to remove them?

    Well, the good news is we have a fairly good grasp of the former and some very easy fixes for the latter that in many cases require only a little thoughtfulness and little to no extra cost. Things like providing basic sanitary products for female athletes at toilet facilities and aid stations or trying harder to give female competitions the attention they deserve and female race finishers the properly fitting finisher shirt they have paid for. Simple things, in other words, that when implemented and communicated right can make female athletes feel more comfortable and more welcome in races.

    In this episode:
    Why inclusivity is good for businessThe importance of using inclusive race imageryHow the wrong marketing copy/language can alienate participantsThe effect of tight mid-course time cutoffs on slower runner participationUsing cut-off pace instead of cut-off time in race communications Thinking harder about toilet facilitiesShould race directors make sanitary products available on race day?Offering female-fit finisher shirtsWhy a lack of a pregnancy deferral policy is stopping women from signing up for your raceCould races be offering childcare support for athletes on race day?Calling out verbal and sexual harassment in racingSetting out race etiquette and a clear anti-harassment policyThanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

    You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

    You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

    • 1 hr 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
15 Ratings

15 Ratings

[ProPhotographer] ,

Extremely Informative

This podcast is extremely informative for anyone. That’s new or has been in the race industry for several years.

I have been erased photographer for over a decade now. This podcast hits me to understand so many aspects of the industry which I am able to use in my photography business.

The host asked very well thought out questions for each of the guest that are on the show. Intern, each guest is very knowledged about their area of expertise.

If you want to learn more about the industry, the show is highly recommended.

Kari PM ,

Not just for the Big Races…..

This podcast has so much useful information. The latest episodes, ‘Sponsor Seekers’ and ‘Facebook Ads 1 ad 2’ are jam packed with information ANY size event can use. After listening, I immediately checked out their websites. I gained a ton of great information for FREE at powersponsors.com. The next week, I reached out to Andy Reilly to learn more about how Evergrow could help our race. Although we are smaller than his normal client and the cost of him doing our marketing was not in our budget, he has a consultation package that was perfect for us, to give us guidance and outline the tools we can use on our own to grow. I signed up immediately. I am the race director of a just under 300 participant race in a small town in South Carolina, but we aspire to grow and we pride ourself in giving our sponsors and participants a great race experience.

The Head Start podcast, along with the Race Directors HQ emails, blogs, and interactive private Facebook group (Race Directors Hub), has helped us so much. Panos is the BEST. I feel like I know him personally, although we have never met. He is very responsive to email and we have even talked on the phone once (and he is located across the pond!). Anyone who wants to increase their numbers and provide a better experience for their participants, sponsors, and volunteers should listen to this podcast….. and join the Race Directors HQ.

snow-gator ,

Must listen

Great and practical advice for race directors and others in the endurance sport industry!

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