One year ago, I launched Small Change, an initiative to give back to our race and adventure cities. As such, I have a heighten awareness of races that have a beneficiary program or could benefit from one. To help increase the impact of Small Change, I’ve started partnering and connecting with those who share my passion and see the potential of my initiative.
On September 26, the 9th annual Hamptons Marathon & Half will take place throughout the picturesque streets of the East End of Long Island. Co-race founders Diane Weinberger and Amanda Moszkowski have created something truly special with their races, which have received top honors, including named “A Race to Run” by Runner’s World magazine. While accolades are certainly nice, what makes this duo standout is that their nonprofit, Hamptons Marathon, Inc., has given over $500,000 to local organizations since the inaugural race in 2007.
This year’s local race beneficiaries are Project Most and Southampton Hospital and they offer an opportunity to donate to Team Red White and Blue. While registration for the Marathon and Half is now closed (the 5k remains open), there are still slots available to run as a Charity Partner.
I had the pleasure of connecting with Diane to learn how with a little perseverance and gumption, the community of East End Long Island wins as a result of her and Amanda’s races. My interview with Diane reminds me of a quote by Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Why did you decide to make beneficiaries an integral part of your races?
When Amanda and I created the Hampton Marathon nine years ago there was no discussion about whether we would give some money away—it was assumed by both of us that this would be a charitable venture. We did not get into this to make money. We are fortunate that we both had the opportunity to be home with our kids and volunteer at our kids’ schools and other organizations and run marathons for fun.
We wanted to fuse our passions and encourage others to “run for a reason,” to use our strength and will to benefit others. Interestingly, we had chosen Make-A-Wish as our beneficiary, but the town of East Hampton requires a local beneficiary to secure a Mass Gathering Permit. We met with locals in the town and saw where the need was and learned about Project Most and Southampton Hospital. We found the same requirements in 2013 when creating the Bridgehampton Half in Southhampton. We appreciate that these municipalities require a local beneficiary if they are going to permit their residents to be inconvenienced. By 2009, we incorporated as a 501(c) (3).
What has been the feedback from the runners?
Most runners we hear from appreciate that the race is run for a cause. At registration, we offer the opportunity to make an additional donation and raise a few thousand dollars extra for our charities this way.
Besides the beneficiary component, what makes your races special?
Our races have received accolades for combining a small town feel and individual attention with the organization and professionalism of one of the majors. Amanda and I intended to create a race that we would want to run and we attend to every detail from shirt design (women’s and men’s because women want a different fit), social media to shape our message, course design, and special medals. We have no staff so we see that all details are handled to our specifications, and I think this has ensured continued quality and is the reason so many of our runners keep coming back. We have been named a Top 10 Half-Marathon and a Top 20 Marathon in the World earlier this year and have been praised by Runner’s World.
How much money has been raised for your beneficiaries?
Hamptons Marathon, Inc. has donated over $500,000 since 2007 and our charity partners have raised over $1 million through our races.
Can you share any special memories as part of your race beneficiaries?
In addition to our named beneficiaries, we have charity teams, runners who sign up to run and raise money for their own charity, which include Team in Training (TNT) and American Cancer Society, and small local groups like iTri and Mind Your Mind. One of our favorite teams is TNT. Their runners raise money on behalf of a family member or friend, but they get caught up in the team spirit that most of us haven’t enjoyed since high school sports. They all wear purple pinnies and support each other on the course. When one TNT runner crosses the finish line the coach often goes back out to run other teammates in. It becomes a wave of purple pinnies and you can’t help but get caught up in their enthusiasm.
What advice do you have for race directors who want to incorporate a beneficiary program?
I would advise race directors to establish at least a component of their races to give back to their host communities. Let’s be honest, hosting a marathon entails some inconvenience for local residents, but people are more understanding when they see the benefit to their community. As an added benefit, beneficiaries are a great source of volunteers on race day.
What’s your best advice for a first-time marathon runner?
For the first time marathoner, my coach told me to “plan my run and run my plan.” I have followed this advice on four of my five marathons and it has worked well—I didn’t get out of my zone to really kick until mile 26. Once though, in Boston, I got swept into the crowd and ran my first half at an unsustainable pace (I’ve qualified for Boston but I am not a 3:15 marathoner). By mile 10 I had a calf cramp from the punishing pace and, well, it lasted three days. I hobbled in just under the four-hour mark, but I was crushed. Plan your race to your capabilities and stick to the plan regardless of the noise around you.
Anything special planned for the milestone 10th year of the race?
We love celebrations and rewarding those who have been with us since the beginning. It seems like last year, but in 2011 we designed special long sleeved shirts to give away to the runners who had run all five years. We will celebrate our 10th Hamptons Marathon in a big way, no doubt, but right now we are focusing on making September 26, 2015 a perfect day for our runners and their friends and fans.
Race beneficiary programs benefit many—from the nonprofits who receive donations and increased name recognition to the communities who are served by the nonprofits and the runners who have another reason to feel proud of their accomplishment as they cross the finish line.
I’m honored that the sport I love gives back to our communities. If you are a race director or adventure outfitter and want to partner, please contact me. Together, our Small Change can add up to something good for communities.
Thank you Diane and Amanda for all you do for your community – have an inspired and magical race this year.