I met Brendan when we worked together at the same company. When I found out he was an ultrarunner, I knew that I could look forward to wasting time on a phone call or two talking about trail running, bucket list races, and our race calendars—basically “geeking out” on our love for the sport. Little did I know that Brendan was an accomplished trail runner, taking on some of the sports toughest races including the Leadville Trail 100 Run, Pikes Peak Marathon, and Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run—and doing quite well in all of them.
When I heard that Brendan was the race director for the Durango Double, a race in Durango, Colorado consisting of two half marathons over two days, I wanted to learn more about his experience switching from an ultraracer to first-time race director.
What prompted you to step back from racing to take on the role of a race director?
I wasn’t actively looking for the role, but the opportunity presented itself and it seemed liked a great fit—I’ve done many races over the years and felt that I had a good understanding of what matters to a runner during a race. It also allowed me to immerse myself more into the Durango running and business community.
What makes the Durango Double special?
The concept of the double is unique—two half marathons in two days—one on trail and one on road. Each race offers its own flavor of Durango. The race also had an important benefactor—the Women’s Resource Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the personal empowerment and economic self-sufficiency of women and families in La Plata County. Additionally, the race included a “mini-double,” two 1-mile kids’ races over the two-day race weekend.
How much money was raised for the Women’s Resource Center?
An impressive $25,000 was raised—of which about half came from race entry fees and the other half from sponsorships. Combining a race with raising money for an important organization really captures the spirit of the running community. I’d like to extend a special thanks to Animas Surgical Hospital for being the presenting sponsor of the race.
How’d the race go?
The race went very well. As a born pessimist, I anticipated a crisis or two (there wasn’t); although, heavy rain did wash out part of the trail a few days prior to the race. However, the community came together and cleaned up the trail and the race proceeded as planned—and on the morning of the race, it was a beautiful Fall day. The feedback was positive from both the runners and the volunteers. While it was a lot of hard work, it really paid off, and we had a great turnout—about 400 runners including nearly 100 doublers!
What were the highlights?
A highlight for me was the kids’ race—about 30 kids participated each day. It was great to see the kids (and the parents) get into the race. Personally, it would be very rewarding for me if any of the kids who participated in the race became lifelong runners. While touted as a “fun run,” if the race encouraged someone at a young age to enjoy running and have it stick, I’d consider it a successful day.
What did you learn? What would you do differently next time?
There were a million moving parts managing the race. As I competed in races leading up to the Double, I had my race director’s hat on and constantly asked myself “what did I like,” “what could I have done differently,” “what could I duplicate that would work for the Durango Double?” It was a different mindset than entering a race solely as a runner.
I learned that I need to delegate better—as the RD, I shouldn’t try to take on all the responsibilities myself, but instead rely on key volunteers. I did a poor job of handling the awards and giveaways at the end of the race, as runners tend to leave after they finish and don’t always hang around for the prizes. I’ve given this some thought and have ideas for how this can be improved next year.
How’s your 2015 race calendar shaping up?
My main focus will be the Hardrock 100 in July, which I finally earned entry to in my fourth year trying (entry is a competitive lottery). I may also return to San Francisco to run the Miwok 100K in May. Last year I went to Europe and ran Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), a 105-mile race through the Alps, and spent time travelling around afterward. I found that I really like using races to justify traveling. My sister recently moved to Japan and I’d love to visit and run the Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji in the next year or two. I’m an avid skier and I’m looking forward to a few ski races I have planned from now through March.
Thanks, Brendan, for taking the time to share a little background on the Durango Double and your role as the race director—and of course, congratulations on being part of an event that raised an impressive amount of money for the Women’s Resource Center. While I miss our work chats, I’m glad that you’re taking on new challenges and having rewarding experiences away from the cubicle.
The date for the 2015 Durango Double is scheduled for the weekend of October 10th and 11th—registration opens on April 1, 2015.