Meetings, Decisions, and More Meetings

Since starting my Gallup Gallop race director post about a month ago, I've had 13 race meetings, made about 57 decisions, and second guessed myself at least 100 times. 

But... things are really shaping up. The Ann Arbor Track Club has been incredibly supportive of my vision for the race, especially considering the fact that this actually is my first rodeo. Despite making changes to the race's date / time of day, target audience, logo, marketing campaign, and charity partner, everyone at AATC has been unwavering in their support. Plus, their catering game for board meetings is on point, which is a serious plus for a perpetually hungry runner.  

Here's a rundown of some of those early meetings and decisions that happened as a result:

3/14/18 Gallup Baptism with Brian Herrald Laurel Park: After tossing my hat in the ring to take over the Gallup Gallop, I met  with AATC board members, Brian and Laurel, at Zingermann's to make my case. Twenty minutes in, I quickly realized that I had a lot to figure out: my "vision" for the race, logistics, sponsors, city permits, vendors for a billion other things, and how to promote the event. Despite witnessing a classic "deer in headlights" look on my face, they gave their blessing. 

3/14/18 Spontaneous Meeting with Nick Stanko: Immediately after meeting with Brian and Laurel, I stopped in to Ann Arbor Running Company to order some new shoes. With so many things to sort out for Gallup Gallop, I figured my miles would likely rise since my best thinking happens on the run. Lucky for me, Nick was behind the counter, and let me pick his brain about putting on a race. It was then that Nick planted an important seed. I'm paraphrasing, but he said, "Well, there are so many weekend 5Ks that the market for it has gotten flooded with competition. And you have so many good runners training for fall marathons and halfs that require Saturday or Sunday long runs. You might want to have it on a Friday night, and make it a party. That might be a good way to get people in the running scene involved, too. " BINGO!

3/18/18 Long Run Meeting with Mikel Haggadone: About the third time Mikel and I went running after I signed on for the race, I asked him if he would be my assistant director. Time and time again, Mikel served as the perfect sounding board, had a proven track record of putting on events with AARC, and kept coming up with ideas that I wouldn't have ever dreamed up. Spitballing with Mikel led to the relay component of the race, our marketing and sponsorship strategy, and some of the registration incentives. 

3/23/18 Passing of the Torch Meeting with Hal Wolfe: For years, Hal oversaw the Gallup Gallop. He cared for the race like it was his baby, and did a damn fine job. Because of this, I was not looking forward to meeting with him. I had never met Hal, and was afraid that he would be overly protective of the format / date of his race. But, I was pleasantly surprised at Hal's support of my re-jiggering. He was extremely generous with his logistical savvy, Rolodex, and warning of potential snags in my plan. 

3/27/18 Race Directing 101 with Doug Goodhue: Given that Doug is responsible for two of Ann Arbor's biggest races, the Dexter Ann Arbor Run and Big House 5K, I was fired up to meet him for coffee to talk shop. It was after this meeting that I realized how important it would be to delegate some responsibilities to others, listen to everyone's opinion before making a decision, but ultimately, trust my gut. After being told by quite a few people to essentially "think smaller" or "wait till next year," Doug's advice was the opposite- "strike when the iron's hot." 

By late March I had Brian's blessing, Laurel's blessing, and Doug's blessing. But, I still had no formal approval from the board. After meeting with Doug, I was feeling confident, but still under-prepared to make my case to the board. With four days to go, I had no logo, apparel quote, website, timing company, or plan to manage a relay and 5K on a tight course. 

Miraculously, it all came together with a few hours to spare. How did we pull it off? Read the next post to find out. 


Brent McDermott