Giving back to the community can take many forms. From donations to local charities to adopting a highway, there is more than one way to give back. How one gives back often depends on their beliefs and passions.
Being a triathlete convert from an office potato, I understand the impact of fitness on improving one’s quality of life. So, for my philanthropic project for 2012, I decided to do something so outside my box, that I downright frightened myself.
Combining my passion for competition and the local need for a new type of sporting event, I created the concept of the Goleta Duathlon. A run-bike-run event that is structured as a “B” race, good for seasoned athletes as a warm-up, and a great first race for beginners, that will double as a fundraiser for the Foundation for Girsh Park.
For the first time in my life, I set the bar so high, it drowns me with fear. Being Race Director is a huge responsibility as the success of the event and the safety of all participants lie on my shoulders. This event will sink or swim because of me.
Luckily, some of the same principles I learned in triathlon competition apply to my Race Directorship. In no particular order:
- Perseverance – Just don’t give up. Like a triathlon, the mind plays games and tries to get you to stop pushing the edge. When you get a flat tire, you either continue riding or you change it fast and double your effort to make up time. As a Race Director, you must keep moving toward the larger goal, even with “No” thrown at you. If one thing doesn’t work, get feedback and try another angle.
- Flexibility – Triathlon requires a large amount of flexibility, particularly when dealing with race day conditions. You can’t let the snow stop you, just adjust your game. As a Race Director, listening to my community leaders and peers has lead to a very different event that I envisioned last summer when I came up with the idea. Instead of being stuck on the original event, I rode along for the ride and adjusted where I needed to.
- Attitude is everything – Sure the rain sucks and makes you cold. But the cool thing is that you are doing a triathlon in the rain! Not a lot of people would be bragging about such a thing, but it makes a great story for the grandkids and your friends will respect you a lot more smiling as you cross the finish line in the rain. Race Director’s have to smile a lot too. During my first meeting with the city, my event was rejected. As crushed as I was, I listened to why they rejected it and worked with them. While the smile did disappear for a moment or two, when the smile came back, I knew this event was going to happen.
- Enjoy the Journey – Life is not about the destination (death) and neither is the finish line. In fact, I find finish lines quite boring. The action is out on the course with every step. So, every interaction, every sponsor I speak to, and every athlete that contacts me is going to make the journey what it is. I will be focusing less on race day, and more on how to make race day hugely successful. Of course, a week before race day, the Race Director seldom sleeps, something that sweetens the journey.
While the daunting task of making the Goleta Duathlon & Fitness Expo a huge success has just began, I know I will be learning a lot along the way. I know I will also be doing a great thing for my local community. If there is one thing that keeps me going on this project, is knowing that this event will have a positive impact on a lot of people and be the reason for their smiles at the finish.
Looking to be a Race Director yourself, checkout this inspiring post.