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John Korff, organizes the Aquaphor New York City Triathlon, gave race directors insight into his planning processes.

Informative Speakers, Collaboration Highlight Day One of Race Director Symposium


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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Featuring a dynamic collection of the nation’s top multisport event directors, the 2013 USA Triathlon Race Director Symposium kicked off Friday at Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

USA Triathlon CEO Rob Urbach opened the weekend by welcoming the 101 symposium attendees and thanking them for enabling nearly 400,000 combined participants in their events.

“There are no triathletes without race directors,” Urbach said.  

In his “State of the Sport” keynote, Urbach recapped USA Triathlon’s organizational highlights for 2012, which included a record total of 164,000 annual members. He also looked to the future by outlining USA Triathlon’s key initiatives moving forward, including several items geared toward race directors — a revamped sanctioning process, improved registration opportunities, comprehensive and evolved risk management and an enhanced certification process.

“This event is so important because we kicked off the weekend with our CEO laying out the vision and the aspects of our strategic plan that affect every race director,” said USA Triathlon Event Services Director Kathy Matejka.

“Mission No. 2 is the networking and the connections. The lessons learned translate across all sizes and demographics of the race landscape. Lastly, this sport is about fun. When you have so many members of the family in the same house, we’re having some fun,” she added.

“This is a very robust conference given how comprehensive the level of expertise is from folks that have collectively directed thousands and thousands of races,” Urbach said. “We learn a lot from individuals who have been producing Ironmans for years and those who just produced their very first sprint. This is the best place for race directors to come and learn all those best practices in order to improve their ability provide a better race.” 

Dave Alberga, Executive Chairman of The ACTIVE Network; Aquaphor New York City Triathlon organizer John Korff; and Dr. Larry Creswell of the USA Triathlon Medical Panel followed with informative talks geared toward the entire symposium.

After a break for lunch, the program resumed with breakout sessions on media exposure and event promotion, how to set up your business and crisis management plan development.

Boston Marathon race director and veteran triathlon organizer Dave McGillivray energized the crowd with inspirational stories, and the afternoon closed with the USA Triathlon Race Director Committee Discussion Panel.

Friday’s topics offered something for everyone from the first-time race director to a 35-year industry veteran like Jack Caress, who is president and CEO of Pacific Sports LLC and serves as president of Triathlon Business International.  

“It’s critical that we’re able to get together and swap stories … and talk about insurance and management of events and all of those things,” said Caress, who is looking forward to sessions pertaining to crisis management, insurance and social media. “I’m really happy to be here and its fun to be back in Colorado Springs.” 

Over the course of his event-directing career, which began in 1978, Caress has seen the sport grow from its infancy to where it is now with dedicated conferences to the sport like this weekend’s Race Director Symposium and next month’s Triathlon Business International Conference in San Diego at which Urbach and Caress will speak.

“The sport is obviously one of the hottest and fastest growing sports in the world, so it’s great to be a part of something you’ve seen develop from what was a bunch of guys who were just having fun putting on events now to a real industry. It’s been great to see how USA Triathlon has grown from what was Tri-Fed in the early days into USA Triathlon.”

Day two of the symposium opens Saturday with the annual Fun Run/Walk, sponsored by SweatVac, and a second day of learning and collaboration kicks off with Bill Burke’s keynote, “Case Studies for Crisis Management Strategy.”

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race director symposium