Pleasure in Your Pain: Part 2
A Race Director Q & A
In this second part we take a look at Texas, the West Coast and Canada. Each area has its own charm and allure. The pride each race director takes in showing off their corner of the country is evident. Where the east can have unrelenting hills, these other regions have big, endless, climbs on actual mountains and yes.. even Texas! Enjoy part two and check out part one if you have not yet.
COVER PHOTO by MYKE HERMSMEYER courtesy of TRAIL RACING OVER TEXAS
Rob is probably the most ambitious guy I know. He and his wife Rachel, just never stop. They founded Trail Racing Over Texas (TROT) that has quickly grown in to the largest trail racing company in Texas. If you have never done a TROT event, then you should put it on your bucket list. The atmosphere, community, and schwag are as over the top as Rob's famous suits.
A mariachi band, Jim Walmsley in a crop top and Rob in his suit; typical TROT pre-race festivities. PC: Myke Hermsmeyer
- What races do you direct? Trail Running Races, Timed Races and Donut 5ks, including Brazos Bend and Franklin Mountain Trail Races.
- How did your race directing career start? I started racing directing as a way to serve our Houston trail community better. We didn’t have a lot of opportunities to race within 30 miles so putting on races was a way to encourage our community.
- What do you love most about race directing? I love seeing people finish the most. For me watching people finish and being part of that moment is the most rewarding thing in life.
- What are the biggest challenges? I think the biggest challenges would probably be weather here in Texas. It can change so quickly and can destroy everything in seconds.
- What’s the craziest thing you have seen during one of your races? 2016 Franklin Mountains Trail Run we got 60mph winds from a windstorm. The wind picked up 300lb Red Bull tents and sent them 30ft in the air about 10 min before the race start. It was a sight to see.
- If you had to convince someone to run your race in only one sentence what would you say? Everything is better in Texas.
- 30 miles of boulder fields, 31 miles of single track, 1 mile of road, 24,000 feet of gain in the dead of summer: What do you name this race? Diablos Disaster
- Favorite race directing outfit: Die De Los Muertos Suit
- Forget logistics and all that for a minute. Dream location to throw a race: New Zealand.
- Best piece of advice to a newbie who is about to run your race: If you want to take the island; burn the boats.
Julie Koepke, burned all her boats, and finished first female at the inaugural Lonestar 100. PC: Myke Hermsmeyer
There is no part of this sport that Ian doesn't have his hand in. He is a pro-athlete, coach and a race director. How he has time for all this is a mystery and an art form.
All eyes on Ian before the start. PC: Kristin Wilson
- How did your race directing career start? I started race directing Fat Ass events long ago. Chris Martinez and I put on the first Red Hot 55K in Moab, UT in 2004. After that event was such a success, Chris moved the course and began the official race as you know it today. In 2005, I took over the Las Vegas Red Rock Fat Ass 50K for one year after the previous RD, Ed Furtaw, moved from town. The first “real” events I co-directed were with Hal Koerner and his Rogue Valley Runners’ Tar N Trail 6 Mile, Lithia Loop Trail Marathon, Pompadour Half Marathon and Pine to Palm 100 Mile. From there I went on to either RD or co-RD Bootlegger 50K, Stagecoach, the Middle School Meet, Gaspin’ in the Aspen 15K, and a series of road and trail races for Team Run Flagstaff. Stagecoach and the AZ State Meet are the only races I direct today.
- What do you love most about race directing? I get a tremendous sense of satisfaction seeing everyone have a good time. I enjoy seeing the smiles, cheers and the sense of accomplishment garnered by the finishers.
- What are the biggest challenges? There are two huge challenges: 1. Making people happy. It’s next to impossible to fill every entrant’s needs, wants and expectations. 2. Finding enough volunteers, helpers or assistants to fill all the crucial roles that are needed pre, during and post-race.
- What’s the craziest thing you have seen during one of your races? Maybe it’s what I haven’t seen. Trust me…directing a 30-hour race does produce sleep deprivation. While returning to the finish line from the 80-mile aid station at Stagecoach a few years ago, I was driving through the Grand Canyon National Park. The sun was just coming up and the roads were empty and quiet. It was really calming after all the events of the day. I got to a four-way stop and stopped. Then…I woke up. I had fallen asleep briefly, waiting for my turn while non-existent vehicles passed through the intersection.
- If you had to convince someone to run your race in only one sentence what would you say? If you’re looking for an idyllic, low-key, well organized, point-to-point 100-mile race that supports a good cause (half of the race proceeds go to the Arizona Trail Association) in the American west, then this is the event for you!
- 30 miles of boulder fields, 31 miles of single track, 1 mile of road, 24,000 feet of gain in the dead of summer: What do you name this race? “Holy $h♠t!”
- Favorite race directing outfit: Carharts
- Forget logistics and all that for a minute. Dream location to throw a race: Grand Canyon
- Best piece of advice to a newbie who is about to run your race:
- Carry more water than you think between aid stations – the mountain altitude and exposure to the Arizona sun are very warm and dehydrating.
- Be prepared for very cold nighttime temperatures. Pack a warm jacket, hat and gloves. Once that warm sun sets, temps will drop quickly and drastically!
- Practice “running” during your training build-up. Though this is a mountain race, most of the course’s terrain is runnable and you’ll want to be prepared for that.
All smiles on the Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line course. PC: Kristin Wilson
With her carefree California attitude, how can you go wrong choosing one of Molly's races? You are guaranteed some beautiful trails and a good time.
Molly makes use of the megaphone.
- How did your race directing career start? I loved where I trained and thought a race would be cool in the area where there hadn't been trail races before.
- What do you love most about race directing? It's very rewarding to watch people alike achieve goals and push themselves out of comfort zone while doing what they love.
- What are the biggest challenges? Challenges come in many different ways , it's how quickly we fix them without too much damage is the key to successful RDing.
- What’s the craziest thing you have seen during one of your races? Not too much crazy so far. (Thankfully).
- If you had to convince someone to run your race in only one sentence what would you say? Come enjoy the ocean views while being a single track away from a great mood!
- Favorite race directing outfit: I'm dressed ready to run 'just in case' I need to get out on the trails in a hurry .
- Forget logistics and all that for a minute. Dream location to throw a race: start the race at the bottom of a snow capped peak but with blue skies shinning down as the runners summit to the finish line.
- Best piece of advice to a newbie who is about to run your race: Remember; every miles a memory!
Molly gets help marking the course. What would race directors do without friends/volunteers?
Another power couple, Jacob and Amy Puzey both juggle running careers, family and the relentless work that goes into organizing trail races in breathtaking locales of Canada. They as much project their passion into their events as they do into the other aspects of their lives. I am sure they agree doing it as a team makes it just a bit easier.
Amy and Jacob marking the course. Views aren't too bad.
- What races do you direct? My wife, Amy, and I direct the nation-wide 5 Peaks Trail Running Series throughout Canada. The series includes five regions with five to six events in each region. Most events include 1-2 kids races (beginner and competitive) as well as 2-3 longer trail races between 5K and Half Marathon. We also direct the Canadian sister event to the TransRockies Run – the TranSelkirks Run – in Revelstoke, British Columbia.
- How did your race directing career start? I started race directing as a high school cross country coach in need of funding to avoid eliminating the middle school cross county programs in our town due to budget cuts during the recession. We also needed funds to replace the shoes my low-income athletes were running through and so that we could travel to and participate in bigger competitions so that my athletes would have greater opportunities to continue running after high school.
- What do you love most about race directing? Race directing helps me appreciate the countless volunteers and race directors who have enabled me to enjoy the sport for most of my life. It makes racing more fulfilling. I enjoy giving back and helping others have positive, challenging experiences and I particularly enjoy seeing new runners – especially kids – realizing that they can do hard things.
- What are the biggest challenges? Permitting and emails
- What’s the craziest thing you have seen during one of your races? Sun, snow, sleet, wind, and bears all in one race.
- If you had to convince someone to run your race in only one sentence what would you say? Why wouldn’t you?
- 30 miles of boulder fields, 31 miles of single track, 1 mile of road, 24,000 feet of gain in the dead of summer: What do you name this race? Volcanic 50 – not as much gain, but pretty much all of the other elements – a must do race
- Favorite race directing outfit: Carhart overalls, Carhart rain jacket, Leatherman, Altra Lone Peak Neo Shells, Merino wool Swiftwock compression socks
- Forget logistics and all that for a minute. Dream location to throw a race: The Selkirk Mountains in Revelstoke, British Columbia
- Best piece of advice to a newbie who is about to run your race: The bears are as afraid of you as you are of them, but just in case bring bear spray.
Amy gives the pre-race run down before sending off the runners.