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Educational sessions & networking at three-day USAT Race Director Symposium

USAT Race Director Symposium presented by ACTIVE

The annual USA Triathlon Race Director Symposium returned to Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the end of last week, on 15-17 January, hosting multisport event organizers from across the US for educational sessions and networking.

Held at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, the three-day event covered topics meant to provide race directors with the tools to enhance their events.

“It’s motivation and inspiration,” said Andie Talmadge, a race director for nine years who made the trip from the Albuquerque, New Mexico area. “[It gets] me re-excited about how hard this job is. It is, but it’s worth it in my opinion. I have a little notepad and I’ve already written down 10 different new ideas of things I want to do.”

While the symposium covered the State of the Sport, presented by USA Triathlon CEO Rob Urbach, and the benefits of technology in triathlon planning from presenting sponsor ACTIVE Network, USAT noted that one of the highlights of this year’s event was the addition of the Tri Tank session.

Based on the popular ‘Shark Tank’ reality TV show, USA Triathlon called on all race director entrepreneurs to pitch their innovative event ideas in the hope of winning an investment opportunity for their organization and/or event. The four finalists, Eric Opdyke, Sherri McMillan, Andy Eflin and Mike Groaning, presented their ideas in front of a panel of triathlon community colleagues on 16 January.

Each race director presented ideas to help grow the sport of triathlon in unique ways: from Rev3’s USAT Rush, a fast-paced Super Sprint Series with a portable pool, to bring triathlon to areas that would never have been considered before; to a multisport festival to raise money for breast cancer research; a family friendly series in Colorado cities Montrose, Gunnison and Leadville; and an athlete-focused draft-legal skills clinic for youth, junior and collegiate athletes that also provided a high quality education and networking opportunity for youth and junior coaches.

The panel and audience voted and Rev3’s USAT Rush won the prize package from USA Triathlon, including US$1,500 in cash, plus US$3,500 in customized media, marketing and sponsor support packaging. Girlfriends Tri & Fitness Festival took home second place for the festival raising funds for breast cancer research.

“We’re always looking for new ways to try to compete and grow our events. As race directors, we’re always thinking, what’s the next thing,” said Eric Opdyke, Rev3 President.

“I’ve been coming to this conference a number of years, so I was really looking forward to coming back for so many reasons from networking to talking to sponsors. To get together with everybody and I’ve just seen so much openness in this industry now more than ever, about willing to work together. I think that’s the cool thing about coming here. It’s worth every dollar that I spend to come here.”

From social media and community relationships to emerging trends in triathlon such as draft-legal events and NCAA inclusion, race directors had an opportunity to learn from industry leaders while connecting with other event organizers. The weekend also included the annual USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Rudy Project, as well as other annual meetings.

“This weekend was good because we had the Race Director Symposium, but we also had all the regional chairs meetings, the collegiate meetings and the race officials meeting, so it was a great synergy of everything USAT in this one building,” said Charles Johanson, Chair of the Southwest Region.

“I’ve taken away how diverse our sport is and how exciting the growth is. There’s a lot of talk about numbers flattening, but when you see the group of race directors, the diversity and how fun the races are, the future of the sport is exciting.”




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