At some point during all this multisport endurance phase of my life, I got the notion that competing in races wasn’t enough. There’s always been a side of me that enjoys owning a project, and directing a race seemed like a fun task to get into. That opportunity showed up when Kip Sloan (well known as the so-to-speak eccentric director of all things involving running here in Pitt County) offered to turn over directing duties of the Fiesta Biathlon to me back in 2007. I was a little bit daunted, but as a lover of this great event – the longest running road race in Greenville at 26 years – and even previous 2-time winner, I was excited to take on the task.
Angie and I did it together from the get-go, and our vision was naïve enough that we thought we could blow this event up to epic proportions. Our goal was to bring it back to what it was in the ‘80’s when it would get 200 participants or so, both newcomers and competitive racers (nowadays, a 55 minute effort will easily win the race, but back then it would have only been good enough for top 20!). We wanted to upgrade the shirts, offer cool, unique trophies, hand out fun prizes, and really pump this thing up.
You gotta understand what we were up against, though. Back in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s if you wanted to do a 5k or duathlon or triathlon, you might have to travel a couple counties to get to the event. There just weren’t that many. Nowadays, even in our little town of Greenville, you can easily pick any spring weekend and find two 5k’s and a duathlon/triathlon all right on top of each other. The competition has gotten fierce due to the popularity explosion of the sport and all the charities that try to put on events to bring in some support dough. So, we had our work cut out for us.
All this to deal with, and we still had to make money for our charity (the first year it was Uptown Greenville, but after that and still to this day the event benefits the Mediation Center of East Carolina, which I’ve always joked sends bigger bullies to your kid’s school to beat up on the bully that is pestering your kid). The previous couple years had not been moneymakers in the slightest sense. Making money for the charity had to be foremost in our minds if it was going to be any sort of success at all.
If you don’t know this first hand already, here’s the single most important message of my post: it is WAY harder to put on an event than to participate in one. What a great lesson to learn and a wonderful experience, but man it takes a lot of work!
I can’t say we breathed a lot of new life into the Fiesta Biathlon over the years, but it still is going on strong, and this weekend is its 26th event. It’s not going anywhere and I’m glad to be able to say that I was a part of its history. But this is Angie’s and my last one that we will be directing. We’re turning it back over to Kip. It’s been lots of fun, but very stressful trying to put it all together on top of a career and all the training I already put myself through every spring. I expect next year to be a little different for Angie and I, and it’s just the right time for us to turn over the reigns to someone else.