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Mar 14, 2012

Behind the scenes of ShamRock N Roll Run

5 miles on the schedule today.....done!  Another great morning for a run.  I'm sure you afternoon runners in Michigan will be enjoying an awesome run today as well.  This weather is crazy and I'm not complaining.


Last night I was privileged to be invited to the last organizational meeting of the ShamRock N Roll Run.  As most of you know, I've been blogging about the race and it's amazing organization for the last few months.  The race is coming up on this Sunday, March 18th and the race staff is in the final stages of planning.  You still have time to sign up so hurry over to their WEBSITE and register now!  I had a chance to meet Alan Whitehead, the race director, in person, along with many of the people that help put together the ShamRock N Roll Run along with Kona Running Company's other races, the Solstice Run and the Wicked Halloween Run.

I can describe these people in one word----AMAZING!  Ok, I can't really just describe it in one word.  They are amazing, dedicated, committed, detailed, organized and hard working.  The amount of hours that goes into a race like this is mind boggling.  Many runners think that you show up to a race, run it and eat the food and that's it.  Of course, it's not quite that simple.  There is months and months of planning.  I just got a glimpse of the amount of work that goes into the race since much of the hard work and planning(except race day) is fairly complete.

Because of the amount of detail involved, it was important to go over everything one last time - the final wrap up.  This is to confirm there is nothing overlooked so things go well without a hitch on race day.  Final discussions revolved around the updated count of participants(over 3,100+ so far!), packet pick up, making sure volunteers are ready, confirming the course plan - a tremendous task with more details that you realize, aid stations, medals and age group award, first aid, water and food and finally entertainment.  They really care that the runners are safe and have a great time!  It's the reason people keep coming back to the Kona Running Company races each year.

It takes an army to plan races and starts with all the generals.  Here's a look at all the race staff:

The fearless race director, Alan Whitehead in the middle!

The majority of these people have many years of race experience in planning races.  For example, Bill Ewing is the Course Director for the ShamRock N Roll run but he's also the Operations Director for the Detroit Marathon.  This is the kind of experience that makes a huge difference, in my opinion, in how well the race goes since they already know what the challenges are in regards to the race and know how to handle them efficiently.  Also, many of the people have worked on other large races and some are helping plan other races currently.  If you are a runner in Michigan, I would bet that you have run a race that these people have been involved in the planning.

Here's a look at the map for the ShamRock N Roll Race:
See all those little colored dots on the map(click to enlarge).  They represent places where there will be water stations or marshalls on the course to help keep all the runners going in the correct direction.  This takes a tremendous amount of planning and volunteers.  In fact, there are over 100 volunteers that will be there for the race and that does not include the 25 course marshalls that will be there as well.  This will help keep the race running smoothly.  Without the volunteers, most races like this could not be done.  When you are at the race on Sunday or any race for that matter, don't forget to thank the volunteers for being out there.  They've given up their time to be there to make the race enjoyable for you!

Some of you might know this guy -- it's Coach Ken!  He's also on the race staff.

Check out the awesome shirt he is holding that is for the volunteers.  The shirt for runners will be slightly different.  It's a really nice tech shirt!  See what you get for volunteering?  Nice!  As some of you have met Ken, he'll be at the start and finish of the race cheering on runners and helping to keep things organized before the race.

I want to personally thank Alan Whitehead for allowing me into the organization to learn more about how races are run and allowing me to share it with all of you.  I think it helps give a new perspective on what race directors must do to be a success and hopefully all runners out there appreciate the kind of support we get from people like in this organization.  Of course, this is just a tip of what is actually done but gives you an idea of the work involved.  The amount of work needed to pull a race together like this is amazing.  I'm just glad there are people out there like on his race committee that have the expertise and time to help with races.  It gives us runners a fun time at a reasonable price with memories to last forever!

I hope you also have enjoyed learning more about what goes on behind the scenes in a local race.  Next up, ShamRock N Roll Run!  Enjoy!

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. This is pretty interesting from the other side. Can't wait to run it on Sunday!

  2. Damn, that Ken guy is a good-looking guy!

  3. Jeff, it was fun having you at the meeting......

  4. Volunteering at the some of the races for the CMS club, I have seen and learned a lot of what goes on behind the scenes. It's a great experience.
    It was cool of them to invite you to see this.

  5. Looking forward to the run. Jeff, hope we are able to meet at some point Sunday!