Trust The Process

It was three days before presenting to the Ann Arbor Track Club, and I had no logo, no timing company, and no website. 

Needless to say, I was a little "on edge." Trying to relieve some stress, I decided to run a few laps around Gallup Park. If nothing else, I figured it couldn't hurt to ask the course to whisper some words of inspiration in the wind as I logged some easy miles.

As I scampered through the park, I pictured course marshals, volunteers, and most importantly, runners with race bibs on their shirts. Despite running a slow pace, I felt my heart rate climb as I thought about the glaring holes in my Gallup Gallop punch list.

For weeks, two graphic designer friends and I  had been trying to capture the essence of the race in logo form. Turns out, this is much easier said than done. We fiddled with horseshoe badges, elegant bridges and trees, and a handful of other ideas that were fine, but didn't scream "Gallup Park" or the kind of race we were aiming for. Because I have zero artistic ability, my only role in this project was to provide a "vision," which I was failing to do. It's a frustrating thing when you see people with a crazy amount of talent working their asses off and missing the mark, all because you haven't given them the proper tools to succeed.

During my third lap around the park, the sun was starting to set, and endorphins were starting to buzz through my brain and tingle down my spine. As the clouds parted and gave way to light,  so did the fog that was the source of my logo writer's block.

Then...SQUAWK! A pack of fierce geese shared the shit out of me as I turned a blind corner over a bridge. As soon as my heart rate slowed, a sense of relief washed over me. Anyone that runs through Gallup Park knows that it is overrun by these mean geese. On race night, they will be a part of the course just as much as the bridges and foot paths. Of course, then, an elegant yet menacing goose would be the icon of the logo. With that settled in my mind, I added stars in the background to indicate a night race, and a bridge flanked by trees on either side with a stream running underneath. I now had the framework for a logo. The only problem? It only lived inside my brain, and like I said, I can barely draw stick figures. 

With no phone or bar napkin handy and at least four miles from home, I scrapped my training plan of "easy miles" and began moving near tempo pace.  Fueled by Race Director adrenaline, my legs were turning over at about half marathon pace. Now a mile from home, I was already dreading asking Shannon or Brian to put in more time on a logo they were already doing pro bono. How was I going to ask them to scrap their suitable work in favor of some fevered vision I had during a close encounter with a goose?

Then the universe intervened. On the corner of Huron and Main, I spotted some punk smoking a cigarette while waiting for a bus. My steady pace meant deep breaths and plumes of second hand smoke entered my lungs. When I gave the offending smoker a passive aggressive stink eye, I realized that I knew the perp- it was Taylor Higgins! Taylor is the design savant that does all the artwork for Savco. Hospitality. The iconic menus, logos and all graphic work for Sava's, babo, etc.- that's all Taylor. Years ago, Taylor and I collaborated on a running club logo for babo Market, during my stint with Aventura, a Savco. venture. My runner's high in full bloom, I took this as a serendipitous twist of fate, dangled by the universe's running czar. I explained my "vision" to Taylor while he avoided the drops of sweat dripping from my forehead, and we shook hands. A few hours later, my rudimentary drawing hit his inbox, and the rest is history. How he managed to turn this chicken scratch into our logo still boggles my mind. 

My fevered goose run inspired drawring

My fevered goose run inspired drawring

Something else kind of magical happened that night. After getting home, sketching out my idea before it vanished like a dream you're afraid to forget, I checked my email. In my inbox was a note from Stephen Moran of Enmotive Race Management. Enmotive came highly recommended from Emily Schaller, Rock CF Race Director, and one of my heroes. 

Stephen and I agreed that the event needed to stand out, and we needed to take advantage of the unique time slot. We spitballed ideas for a few hours and agreed on the following things: race photos would be free, the post race atmosphere would be hoppin', and the website ad apparel needed to stand out. 

Two days after my stressed out goose run, we had a bitchin' logo, blueprint for registration and timing, and a beautiful website to showcase our event. It was a reminder that when your chips are down, you have to think like Sam Hinkie, and Trust The Process

Brent McDermott