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John Korff, owner of the New York City Triathlon, was the keynote speaker on Saturday.

Race Directors Gain Knowledge, Insight at Symposium

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• Race Director Symposium Coverage Page

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon’s two-day 2012 Race Director Symposium wrapped up Saturday with a full day of educational opportunities, networking and idea sharing at Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

The day got an early start with the annual three-plus mile fun run, sponsored by SweatVac, which began under clear, crisp conditions at 7 a.m.

“As an athlete who’s trying to become more of a competitor, the run this morning for me was all about participation amongst my fellow USAT race directors. I will say halfway through the altitude hit me a little bit, but I finished and got the run done and it was great,” said first-time symposium attendee Molly Quinn of Washington, D.C. “We wore really cool SweatVac beanies this morning, which certainly helped.”

John Korff, owner of the New York City Triathlon, was Saturday’s keynote speaker. He shared humorous stories about his triathlon-racing debut (his gear included khaki shorts and on a beach cruiser) and his varied experiences in New York. Korff focused on his staff’s successful athlete communication, publicity and sponsorship programs, which include lots of personal contact with each competitor.

“People don’t come to New York for great … they come for an amazing experience,” said Korff, who wants his event to be compared to other top attractions in New York like Broadway shows.                                                                                                  

Other morning sessions included talks on the emergence of aquabike and developing a professional network.

The afternoon kicked off with an appearance by 2012 U.S. Olympic qualifier Gwen Jorgensen, who took time out of a busy visit to the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center to chat with race directors, sign autographs and pose for pictures.  

Race directors were also able to expand their knowledge of sponsorships and key information related to event insurance in the afternoon sessions, which provided real-world examples and plenty of time for questions. For race directors like Jackie Brown of Pensacola, Fla., the insurance sessions proved worthwhile. 

 “We did have a meeting with ESIX,” Brown said. “The sanctioning covers us for our race, but learning how to cover what happens before the things we do on race weekend is a big plus for me.”

For many symposium attendees, the best part of the weekend remains the opportunity to network with other race directors from across the country.

“Building relationships and meeting people in my area – that’s the biggest thing about coming to this,” said Eric Jensen (Athena, Ore.). “I didn’t really expect to sit down with other race directors one-on-one as much as I did, and that was a pleasant surprise.”

Whether new to event directing or seasoned veterans, race directors use symposium to gather skills needed to host successful events for years to come.

“Being in the industry for seven or eight years now, coming out to USAT’s not only race director certification but also symposium has been invaluable,” Quinn added. “The topics that were covered, the keynote speakers, have been fantastic and truly this is a networking opportunity where you get a chance to see other race directors and learn hints and tips and tricks of the trade.”

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