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50 Lessons Learned from Being a Race Director

Merchants of Dirt Episode #50 These 50 race direction lessons learned can help you build your roadmap, refine your checklists, or just help you find a place to start. 50 Lessons Learned - The RD Roadmap Welcome to an information-packed 50th episode of Merchants of Dirt and thank you for listening! Listen along as I help you take the mystery out of outdoor race direction with 50 lessons learned from being a race director. After it's all said and done, you'll find out that it's more...


Racing support services you can outsource

Merchants of Dirt Episode #49 Racing Support Services is an entire industry that exists to make your racing business easier to manage, provide you professional services that you do not have to do yourself, and can free you up to build your business and think up new racing experiences. Racing Support Services Look like a professional without any staff by hiring a crew or renting one for a race day. How do you do that? By outsourcing many of the services and processes you are currently...


Are you a women-friendly race director? - MOD048

Merchants of Dirt Episode #48 If you invest your time in teaching and encouraging women to become better riders today, you can create an environment that promotes women to try racing for the first time and encourages more women to attend your events. #1 — Make your sport more appealing to women This seems like a no-brainer until you sit down to do it. Then you start to struggle with what exactly does “more appealing to women” mean. Does adding something to attract one type of customer...


Bad Crews have Worse Leaders - MOD047

Merchants of Dirt Episode #47 The reason bad crews have worse leaders has everything to do with a race director that hires their friends, allows them to say and do anything they want, and approves of their bad behavior by doing nothing to stop them from ruining their business. Observation #1 Problem - Deserted Finish Line Your crew wants to leave early? Tough! All of your crew needs to stay until the end, even if it's all packed up. Because if your crew is not still cheering the last...


Spectator Friendly Race Formats - MOD046

Merchants of Dirt Episode #46 Consider how creating spectator friendly events could create new customers while the untapped benefits of having an excited crowd could help your bottom line. Three Formats to Consider This episode of Merchants of Dirt is about spectators. Or more specifically, three types of events that make spectating fun: The Relay The Short TrackThe Intergalactic Pond Crossing In an age where every dollar counts, race directors owe it to themselves to consider...


Head Counts Matter - MOD045

Merchants of Dirt Episode #45 Your accountability to your customers begins when they arrive at your venue, and only ends when you are certain they have left your venue safely. Head Counts Matter This episode of Merchants of Dirt is about race director accountability. More importantly, your accountability when it comes to a simple thing like head counts. And if you’re not sure what a head count is, this is the process of knowing how many racers you have on the course at any given time....


Yesterday Is Too Late For Insurance - MOD044

Merchants of Dirt Episode #44 Insurance is the minimum financial protection a race director needs to protect themselves, their staff, their volunteers, their business, and their family from other people’s injuries. What is Insurance Insurance is a contract, represented by a policy, in which an individual or entity receives financial protection or reimbursement against losses from an insurance company. Insurance policies are used to hedge against the risk of financial losses, both big...


Tales from the Collegiate Sports Laboratory - MOD043

Merchants of Dirt Episode #43 Collegiate sports clubs can give college kids a platform for racing while serving as your personal laboratory for testing your race direction ideas. The Collegiate Club Laboratory College Club Sports are their own animals. They can be hard to form and even harder to control. But once you get one off the ground, they can become your very own race direction laboratory. That is if your experiments don’t try to eat you first. Start a Club #1 - Find a school...


Outreach and the Art of Recreational Engineering - MOD042

Merchants of Dirt Episode #42 There are certain levels of outreach where the marketing of each endeavor depends on how much time you have or what kind of impact you want. Three Kings of Outreach Today I answer listener emails regarding three very unique outreach strategies: Paul wants to know if 4-weeks is enough time to effectively market an event that is experiencing low pre-registration online. Brian was curious about what my platform would have been if I had been elected to the...


Make event management jelly with Jennifer Crawford - MOD041

Merchants of Dirt Episode #41 Jennifer "Jelly" Crawford from The JellyVision Show walks me through the strategies and struggles of directing a conference from the ground up. Enter the Jellysode Jennifer "Jelly" Crawford from The JellyVision Show is the founder and event director of DC Podfest, a small but scrappy podcasting conference held once a year in Washington, DC. Jennifer started DC Podfest in 2015 with a vision of seeing it as a community for like-minded podcasters to come...


Oh, No! Where’s Kyle? He has all the gear! - MOD040

Merchants of Dirt Episode #40 Don’t be the single point of failure by being the only one with all the gear by building a few gear redundancy strategies into your plans. Single Point of Failure (SPOF) When someone has all the gear — all the tents, tables, and computers — then you have a single point of failure. In systems architecture, a single point of failure (SPOF) is when a part of a system that, if it fails, will stop the entire system from working. You never want a SPOFs in your...


5 Things That Make a Multi-Day Slogfest Special - MOD039

Merchants of Dirt Episode #39 There are some hidden challenges that hide within the multi-day slogfest that few one-and-done race directors have experienced. Directing a Multi-Day Race The multi-day race is a special kind of challenge that requires more than one plan, better communications, and hopefully a few hours of sleep. In this episode, I’m going to give you the five (5) takeaways I learned after directing a Multi-Day racing event that include: These are the hard lessons learned...


Turkey Day Trail Time Tips - MOD038

Merchants of Dirt Episode #38 Exploring a new trial on a holiday like Thanksgiving can be very rewarding so long as your plan includes these 7 important tips. Tips for Visiting a New Trail Bring the right gear Talk to the locals Plan for disaster Take a moment to enjoy the scenery Expect to get turned around Get back before sunset If you have a plan, exploring a new trail solo can be very rewarding. Happy Thanksgiving! Turn Coffee into Outdoor Recreation Ricks Roasters Coffee Company...


Take Your Race Promotion on the Road - MOD037

Merchants of Dirt Episode #37 Break your race out of obscurity by announcing your event at other events using the roadshow concept to get the word out. Take Your Race Promotion on the Road Did you know your race is a product? Well, it is! Your race is a time sensitive, exclusive product that can only be experienced the one time it is offered. If you miss it, you miss the experience of the product until next year. Maybe there will be another race, but there will never be another race...


Everything’s Bigger in Montana - MOD036

Merchants of Dirt Episode #36 When you compare your local races to championship races you learn that it's the same plan, course design, and processes, only on a bigger scale. Merchants of Dirt Podcast Turns One! Merchants of Dirt Podcast released Episode #1 on On October 13th, 2016. It all started after I built into a strong blog about off-road race direction and event management. I was looking for another way to share my race building tips without having to always point...


Four Horsemen of the Race Planning Apocalypse - MOD035

Merchants of Dirt Episode #35 Learn how to prepare yourself for the possibility that one or all of the four horsemen of race planning will show up and wreck your race. The Four Horsemen of the Race Planning Apocalypse CompetitionPermissionRegistrationCancellation The Horseman of Competition Competition - Races on your same day. You have to protect your top dates and locations by being Hard to Kill. Here are some key strategies for surviving the Horseman of Competition: Learn more at...


Save Your Race with Measures and Metrics - MOD034

Merchants of Dirt Episode #34 You will never effectively adapt your races to unforeseen problems if you don't have any measures or metrics to base decisions on. I explore the process of deciding how to break up a race day category that had too many racers, and the advantages having (and not having) data gave me. The Decision Metric Do you have a system for collecting data about your races? Do you look at the numbers, analyze your situation, and make sure everything is going as...


What You Can Learn from Race Hater Mr. Murphy - MOD033

Merchants of Dirt Episode #33 You need to be on your toes when it comes to combating those wannabe activists and trail extremists who are out to sabotage your race. In this episode, I teach you what you can learn about your own race day preparation process with a real-world example of a Mr. Murphy and his race day sabotage antics. The Wheel of Woe Wheel of Misfortune (aka The Wheel of Woe) is a mythical device where every time you spin it, it lands on something bad. Then Mr. Murphy does...


Inside the Race Director’s Studio Part 2 - MOD032

Merchants of Dirt Episode #32 Do know what kind of thinking goes into deciding when to call the race due to rain? Join me as I continue my Inside the Race Director's Studio series with Part 2, and take you behind the scenes of the third mountain bike race in my four-race series. Behind the Scenes It might be hard to believe that the Washington DC Metro area has any quiet parks, however, Wakefield Park is one of those hidden destinations that only the locals know about. It is a must for...


Inside the Race Director’s Studio Part 1 - MOD031

Merchants of Dirt Episode #31 Putting one race together is a challenge, but imagine putting four races together over a four-week stretch? Join me for the first in a two-part series called Inside the Race Director's Studio, where I take you behind the scenes of four race mountain bike racing series. The Moving Parts of Race Day Logistics I just directed a local mountain bike race that took place in a quiet little park just off the Washington DC Beltway. It might be hard to believe that the...