It's a lot of responsibility, but directors love the sport.
DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World
What motivates you to do what you do? Why take on the stress of directing a race? Do you do it for the love of the sport? Is there a desire to serve the community? Are you trying to give back to the sport? Do you want to introduce the love of running to as many people as possible? Do you consider yourself a leader?
Just hoping to get some insight as to what makes a race director tick. - Chris
Chris, I often find myself asking the same questions. I tell everyone that I have a button in my office that reads, "My job is secure—no one else wants it!"
There are many reasons why I do what I do and although I cannot speak for any other race director, my sense is that most perhaps feel somewhat the same way about this business. Many of us, but not all, are runners ourselves so we were passionate about the sport before we got involved in it in a business way. We are the fortunate ones to have been able to combine a "hobby" with a "vocation." It doesn't get any better than that.
Years ago when asked what I did for a living, I use to mumble under my breath, "I'm a race director." Truly, I didn't think too many would be impressed with that answer. After 30 years in the business and about 900 events, I now say, "What I do for a living is to help raise the level of self-esteem and self-confidence of tens of thousands of Americans." It's an entirely different sport today than it was 20 years ago.
What motivates me now is seeing people participate in one of my events and then go home feeling good about themselves. There is no greater reward. Operationally, I also like making something from nothing— creating an event. I've always felt that "the genius is seeing it in the seed"—that is, a lot of what we do is about vision, seeing something before it actually happens.
Is it stressful? At times. But if you are properly prepared and surround yourself with dependable, experienced people, the stress is minimal. Some say directing races must be a lot of pressure. I say, "Pressure is a privilege."
However, the responsibility of directing a race is huge. Thousands are depending on you to do your job and to do a good job. If you didn't love doing this work you shouldn't even consider getting into it. And, it can be very, very labor intensive.
As for doing it for the love of the sport, well, of course I love the sport but it also has become a business for me and this is now how I earn a living. There is nothing like doing what you love. Providing an opportunity for others in the community to set goals and participate in an event as their immediate goal is very satisfying. And, now we have the combination of personal goals and giving back. The fundraising done at most races for so many worthwhile causes is explosive and just another reason why directing races can be so rewarding.
Anyone who takes on the responsibility of directing a race is certainly a leader. Without race directors, there would be no races, thus no significant goals or targets for runners to shoot for.
So, be kind to race directors—we all need them!