Speaker 1: Welcome back, or welcome to the single track podcast. I'm your host, finn Melanson, and in this episode we're talking with JT Service. Jt is a company builder in the event and experience industry. He started Soul Focus Sports in 2010 to produce endurance events and represent athletes. In 2016, the company expanded to create an experiential agency to provide event services and strategy for brands such as Hoka, under Armour, solomon, gopro, strava and Hustle Clean, and simultaneously, back in 2012, service started run local events with a focus on creating high-profile and locally themed events like the Oakland Marathon and Santa Barbara Half Marathon. In this conversation, jt shares some stories from representing Dean Karnassus back in the mid-2000s, his philosophy around event management and experiential marketing in the running world, and all sorts of thoughts around media fandom and growing our trail running community.
Speaker 1: Before we get started, some big news broke in our sport earlier today, as Aravipa running announced that White Mountain Endurance, a New Hampshire based events company, will be joining the Aravipa family. This announcement marks Aravipa's official commitment to helping grow the East Coast trail running community by providing increased resources and media attention to the White Mountain Endurance events. Races in the White Mountain Endurance events ecosystem include the White Lakes Ultra Jakora Mountain Race Race, the Cog Kilkenny Ridge Race and the Jigger Johnson. Additionally, aravipa will be kicking off this commitment by accepting new applications for their racing team for runners in the Northeast region. States include New Hampshire, vermont, maine, connecticut, massachusetts and Rhode Island. Also New York. We will link to what we can in the show notes for more information. One last note before we get started. This episode is brought to you by Rabbit, makers of the best trail running apparel. Use code single track 20 at checkout on their website for 20% off your next order. With that, let's get started. Jt Service, it's a pleasure to have you on the single track podcast.
Speaker 2: Finn Malanson, it's a pleasure to be here. This is awesome. I am before we even jump in. I want to thank you for being such like a voice in the sport. It's like it's an honor to be here, but I think it takes like a million little pieces to make this industry grow around, and voice and narrative and journalism is a big part of it.
Speaker 1: Well, i really appreciate that, and it's people like you that make me so fascinated about the inner workings of the sport, and I think that's the perfect segue. We go on stretches in this podcast and lately we've kind of been on a bender talking about how events shape the culture, event management, presentation of the sport. We've talked with a few race directors. We just had Doug Mayer on to break down UTMB and, thanks to our mutual friend Tim Tollison, we're fortunate to talk with you as well, timmy. You've created and produced some of the most impactful mass participation in specialty endurance events and the world listeners and viewers of the show might recognize some of the activations along the Western States. Of course, you've done your production of the Hoka Carbon X2 project back in January 21, where Walmsley got that 100k American record.
Speaker 2: So close to the world record.
Speaker 1: And I promise I'm going to stop monologuing here, but I actually I want to start this conversation hearing about your athlete management experience because, if I understand correctly, back in the mid 2000s you got connected with the great Dean Carnazzo. So how did you, how did this connection happen? Start there.
Speaker 2: Wow, i like that start. We'll go all the way back to 2000 and geez 2007. So I was going to law school at the time. I was at Santa Clara Law and I thought I was going to be Jerry McGuire coming out of that thing like, show me the money. I'm going to represent all these amazing endurance athletes because I have a little connect. I ran myself. I was in the Olympic Trials in 2007. so I knew Ryan Hall, i knew Ian Dobson. I knew some of these guys that I wasn't better than them. I just catch them on runs here and there.
Speaker 2: So I had some connects, like in the sport, and I was like, oh, i'm gonna combine it with this law degree, i'm gonna come out and represent, you know everybody. I was gonna. I was gonna be the man. I ended up at a sports agency called Evolve Sports in San Francisco. They produced the Maverick Surf Contest, the big wave contest, and then they also represented some athletes in the sport. I think they would call them at the time. they were like, you know, evolving. Evolve Sports was like the sports that are just like on the fringes, almost like we were talking you were talking to Doug about soul sports, soul sports.
Speaker 2: Yeah, they were kind of like that. They were focused on that. Some skateboarders Dean was a recent pickup for them because he lived in San Francisco and they didn't know that much about running. So they're like, oh, let's take the guy just out of law school that just finished the Olympic trials and pair him with with this crazy endurance junkie who is Dean Carnassus. I didn't really know Dean at the time. I think I was, so my optic in in terms of I'm a marathoner, everything is road racing or track or like elite, elite speed and all these different fields that I didn't really wasn't really paying attention to the, to the long stuff. No one really was, i mean, even compared to now and I my first client out of law school was Dean Carnassus. I was 28 years old. He was probably 10 to 12 years my senior, i think at that time and we became a duo, which is pretty wild when you think back on it, like and what was he thinking like? who is this kid?
Speaker 1: Amazing, yeah, i mean, i think one of the first things I want to ask you, because we're just getting into this moment in trail where there's let's just call it 5% of the of the pro endurance athletes out there. They're starting to make a full-time living around the sport. It could be a larger number than that, but it's still a minority of the pro athletes in our sport. If you go back to the mid-2000s, is Dean starting to secure contracts that can make him make running his full-time thing, or is he? is he still among that crop of runners? I'm not sure if it was Scott Jeriker, carl Meltzer, but like my understanding is that in that era they were lucky to get gear only contracts at the time.
Speaker 2: I don't know how better to put it, other than Dean was bawling out.
Speaker 1: Really.
Speaker 2: It was six figures plus.
Speaker 1: Wow.
Speaker 2: Yes, and this and I'm I mean part of it is that he was. He had a vision, he had things that others this is before Jeriker had a book. I mean Dean, yeah, dean had a good book that was, you know, on the New York Times bestseller list. So he had different factors, but his North Face Agreement was I don't know what my NDA is or something about it was, was significant and it comparable to today, maybe more. Yeah, amazing and that's to his it. There was value to it. Yeah, i think.
Speaker 1: I kind of want to break this down a bit and again, this is to the extent that you're able to speak on Dean's behalf. We'll probably have to get him on the show at some point. But you know, dean was a good runner. He was definitely an above average runner, but he was not Scott Jerrick, he was not Tim Tweetmeyer, he was not, you know, carl Meltzer, but in a lot of ways he transcended them. He transcended the sport, at least in that particular moment. What was his skill set? What was his superpower? What made him able to do that? Do you?
Speaker 2: think Good question. I think it was vision. I think he was combining what he knew in marketing. So Dean didn't he didn't start as a runner or he started as a. I think he was a marketing, a CMO for San Francisco Company. I can't recall who he was working for, but he was bringing this like breadth of knowledge, of brand, of like access and and seeing himself in a place of something that had a lot of blue ocean, a lot of white space, and he filled it and he filled it with himself, whether that was books, brand deals, he was showing up at events, he was owning events. He was a part owner of the Silicon Valley Marathon at the time. So he was doing things that I think other people weren't, and and doing it unapologetically, you know. I think there was like a part where people were like, oh, that's not what this is sports about. Dean was like well, it's what it's about for me. You know, i've got to make a living doing this thing and that's what I rather do.
Speaker 1: I think there are some athletes that have gotten up to his level of, you know, transcending the sport. Courtney DeWalter comes to mind. Even even Scott in the future years wrote two great books and has become like a global ambassador for Brooks in the sport. So there have been people that have gotten to his level. But it's amazing that what Dean did in the mid-2000s that hasn't necessarily been surpassed yet. Like there's, dean is still kind of the model, sort of the limit for what you can possibly hope to achieve as a pro athlete.
Speaker 2: And I it's funny how impactful I think now that I think back on it. It was on me in this sport of like not setting limits on these things, of not doing things exactly how everyone else is doing them, to look for inspiration of ways that outside of our current sport or the current way things are done, or something like that. But you're right, i think only now are people getting to the level he was at.
Speaker 1: You kind of just got into it there. But what were some of the other impressions that Dean left on you? like, how did seeing the way he operated in the endurance sports world informed the way that you orchestrated, you know, all these other endeavors in the endurance sports arena?
Speaker 2: We'll probably get into it, but that it's a business. If that's what you're gonna do, then I mean you've got to, you got to do it with professionalism, i think, and take it seriously. And and maybe that's what Dean impacted me and maybe I maybe I haven't realized it until just now and going through this, this thought process is that we do take it seriously and that we this is what we do. So, if you're gonna do it, do it right and if you're gonna, if you're gonna, show up, then do it to a high level and try to impact as many people as possible with that work.
Speaker 1: Given the amount of time you've been in our world, do you get the sense that Dean's way of operating in the world is an exception to the rule? do you find that, like more athletes kind of have like one foot in our world but also they're hedging in some other place and maybe there isn't quite the light, the same level of seriousness that Dean brought to it? like? what are your thoughts there?
Speaker 2: Good question. I don't think it's that they don't want to be in that world. I think it's that it's not cool to be that person like it's not, it's not totally in surf. Let's go to surfing, please. Have a surfer and soul. Surfing non-competition, easygoing, laid-back lifestyle everybody wins. That's kind of like how like old-school surf culture is that you shouldn't be competitive.
Speaker 2: Now you've got Kelly Slater on the other hand, who is I will like, slit your throat, like to win, and he might be like that's, that's what he's known for. That's how you get 11 world championships and you still compete at the age of 50. Kelly Slater's 50 and he's still competing in professional surfing events. So what I'm saying is Dean is more on the Kelly Slater side in terms of I don't care what the industry was supposed to be. This is what it is to me. I think and and maybe that's that's had a lot of impact on me and that's it's good or it's bad. It's just is for for the experience I've had and maybe, maybe what I learned from him and and how I've approached my career over the last 15 years here can you break down that quote-unquote not cool worldview, some more like like what?
Speaker 1: what would be considered like cool suave?
Speaker 2: good point. Cool and suave is like I think it's not caring. To an extent it's like yeah, whatever, we're just here to. You know, i'm just gonna go get my miles in, i'm gonna catch a couple waves, i'm gonna, you know, pay me, don't pay me, you know I'm good. Or get, yeah, send me something. I would say the more professional, professional approach will be I'm worth this, this is my job and I've got to make a living doing it. And and for doing that I'm gonna return to you blank value. It's more transactional. Transactional is not cool. Bean counters are not cool. Pws, rice waterhouse cook, whatever not cool. What is cool?
Speaker 1: laid back, anton in a button-up shirt, running through the mountains it's amazing that in this day of age, the most metal or counter cultural thing you can do in trail running is be a capitalist that's kind of true, isn't that wild? but are you feeling that?
Speaker 2: like we, you've had some of these conversations of the last few on some of your pieces of Pilates tug, mayor. Yeah it's?
Speaker 1: it's a great question. I think if I so I'm in my early 30s, if I had been doing this podcast in my early to mid 20s, or even my late 20s, i think I would have been very susceptible to the dominant culture which is again like be laid back, make it seem like you're not trying the nature viable that kind of stuff which, by the way, i love and I respect and I'm attracted to it. But I'm in my early 30s. Now I'm kind of coming into like my sense of purpose and being and whatnot. And I'm unabashedly into the business of the sport. I'm unabashedly into, like some of the corporate elements and I think they're cool and I can't I can't live a lie. These things fascinate me. I'm kind of impressed with, like, the builders out there and the people that are making taking big swings at the plate.
Speaker 2: So that's just who I am and like I appreciate everything, like I think that I try to make sure that when I'm having a discussion, both sides of the table are represented so but yeah, and we're also talking about one of we're in one of the smallest sports out there with the least amount of revenue flowing through, so us talking about being into deals and winning in that level is still on such a small, small playing field versus you know, i know you and I have a mutual love for the NBA playoffs, but they see the step shirt.
Speaker 1: I love it.
Speaker 2: They got a night night shirt was. It was night night for the Warriors last two weeks ago, so my team's done we got game five for the Celtics heat tonight.
Speaker 1: I'm a diehard Boston Celtics fan oh, that's awesome.
Speaker 2: Well, this be the first time a team comes back and wins four in a row.
Speaker 1: I mean we need I don't know if you know this reference, but Kevin Millar from the 2004 Boston Red Sox cowboy up. He had this famous cowboy up statement when the socks were down 3-0 against the Yankees in the 04 ALCS. We need, like our basketball equivalent of Kevin Millar, to step up and Continued cowboy up.
Speaker 2: I've been so into the NBA playoffs this year I don't know why I mean a part of it is I'm a diehard Warriors fan. I'm not just a diehard Warriors fan like. I come from the Bay Area, So my dog's name growing up was Mullen off after Chris Mullen The 90s you know, nice wing, the 90s wing. I had a poster of Tim Hardaway on my on my wall because I thought I was gonna go to the NBA and You know, instead I'm here, stuck talking to you, finn.
Speaker 1: Hey, i'm, i'm a. I'm a very amateur NBA historian. I vividly remember the what is it? the 07 Warriors upsetting the number one seed, dallas Mavericks.
Speaker 2: I believe that was the we believe. Baron Davis, i think posterize somebody.
Speaker 1: That's awesome. Okay, well, a couple, a couple more questions on the on no one cares about.
Speaker 2: No one cares about warriors. Oh, we probably just had a massive drop off of audience here, like it went from, like you know. Into the Warriors like I'm out.
Speaker 1: I've heard you discuss this on your run local podcast Just the long tail effect of being an athlete in the sport. I think there are a lot of athletes that know how to do their current job very well, and that's to train hard to win races to podium etc. But there's all sorts of other baggage that comes with it that they don't Want to embrace or grasp very well. And then there's also the problem of like how do I stay relevant for the next 20, 30, 40 years? What are your thoughts on that? when it comes to like impact, job security relevance What are some good case studies, for example, people that have done it Well?
Speaker 2: okay, well, let's go back real quick. We won't talk about Dean the whole time, but he created some assets and platforms that he could use long term. All right, i think books are awesome. I think being able to do something else is It's amazing, other than just relying on that physical prowess That is gonna leave all of us at some point. You know, a Hypony or whatever is gonna go. But Dean put himself in a position to be able to do other things and for him, that was the written word. Another great case study I think isn't is less about a platform and more about a reputation, and Michael Wardian Has an amazing reputation in the sport. Michael's a friend, yes, but there's something Michael does that not everyone else does Michael's writing handwritten notes after almost every race to race directors thanking them for having him and And for in that he would love to be invited back you know, you don't forget stuff like that.
Speaker 2: He just engages with His community, is people, the race directors, his sponsors in a way that I haven't seen too many other people do in this sport. So I would say your reputation is also gonna give you some long-lasting opportunities in this sport and it's really helped, michael, if everyone one wonders how he has six different sponsors, yeah, it's that. It's that reputation is speaking. I'm speaking for him and the list.
Speaker 1: I mean you look at some of it.
Speaker 2: He's had some crazy non-endemic sponsors like he mobile and like continental airlines and stuff like that, like he's just a genuine good dude that cares and continues to give back to those partners. So that's two of them. And then third is foresight. We've got we had a surfer That's now moved on to another agency. His name is Hunter Jones. Hunter not only is an amazing surfer, but he also is a great videographer and a great editor, and so when we would bring opportunities to him, let's say with Sunook sandals It's a Decker's company He would also be doing some content management for them. So we're like almost setting the stage for what are you gonna do next?
Speaker 2: and he could have his own, basically his own, his own content creation business Because of the work he's done for his own edits, but now he's editing content for for Sunook. So it's like, can you have a foot or something ready for your next step? If you're not gonna be doing 360 errors when you're 40, you're gonna be ready to to create content and start an agency of your own.
Speaker 1: So I think it's it's really just foresight when you have your Agent hat on or your representation head on and you're talking to athletes. How early in your relationship with them Do you start to have this conversation that maps out not?
Speaker 2: just like the immediately.
Speaker 2: Immediately, because I want them to know that I'm thinking about their next step, even if they don't want to think about it that whole time. Because you should be thinking about it with every partnership. Like what can we learn from body glove or a quick silver or in the run space, new balance in terms of Like. Could we get you to new balance nationals and you have an interest in event management So that now you can learn something about that from them? because you're gonna have more access now. Then you're gonna have, when you're on your way out of that partnership, you're you're their golden child right now. You're you're the one they want to give access to. So let's get you like set up next for whatever that is now.
Speaker 2: I know that could be distracting or pieces and I don't want to distract you, but I want to be thinking about it and I want to be laying that groundwork and building that like next step for you And it's starting to have a vision for it. Like, and also that's part of my, i think the athlete's agents job Shouldn't be just money now. It should be money, money later, or at least that, that entire relationship that you're thinking about.
Speaker 1: One thing I've always wondered about, and I'm not expecting you to have the answer to this, but like you look at, like Dean Karnaz, this is book, or Scott Jerich's book, and I'm amazed that those two people in particular have such Detailed recall of all of the events that happened in their life. Like I can't imagine that 20 years before eat and run came out, scott was like premeditated about it and was like listing out like the chapters that were gonna be written and making notes in a diary. Like the book. Part of this has always fascinated me.
Speaker 2: It's like I think there's some poetic license. My, my, my grandmother told me don't ever let the truth get in the way of a good story. And you know what? there's probably gonna be some of that in this podcast, but I hate in my. I can't speak to Scott, i just know that Some of those things are hard for me to believe. So let's just say that there's. Yeah, they're filling it in, but I'm glad you're giving them all the credit for having a photographic memory of what was said back and forth.
Speaker 1: There's no doubt that I bring some puritanical New England style skepticism to the podcast, but at the same time I also like to believe the best in people and that they have these insane talents that make them prime to write a Book. But also the take away from the book even if there is some fable involved to the takeaways are amazing.
Speaker 2: Right, they are incredible and the impact throughout the. Who was it? I was just at Strava camp last week. Strava came some amazing, by the way shout out to Strava for putting together like an industry Summit basically, of outdoor people, brands, influencers, whatever. I really did enjoy it and I did not go into it with that idea. I did not know. I kind of went in skeptical. It was this gonna be a waste of my time? so enough on Strava camp. But I was talking to Peter Abraham, who's, i think, one of your past guests.
Speaker 1: Oh, he's awesome.
Speaker 2: He's awesome guy, the.
Speaker 1: Oracle of endurance sports.
Speaker 2: He really is the next one. He's always in. The next thing when I met him is a run and I was already to gravel. It's like how did you know that? How did you know that the gravel was gonna be it? I hate you.
Speaker 1: He's like Gretzky He's he skates toward the puck is going.
Speaker 2: That's good, i like that. So he was talking, we're talking. I think Dean came up a little bit in. He talked about how that impacted Billy Yang and and how that like Was was an influence on everything he's done in terms of getting into ultras and it's like that's like a coaching tree, right, like that's like a something where you do something in the ripples of it or really wild, you'll never know where they go.
Speaker 1: That's an amazing reference. Yeah, it's like the We're talking about the Celtics right now like Joe Missoula, who some people call him second row Joe because he was always sitting behind, like Brad Stevens and he Moodoka all those years and like finally he got his time. It's like there are all these content creators that are sitting behind other Content creators, like studying, taking notes, and like then they have their and they step up and like that's Billy Yang, you know, coming around the corner off of Dean Karnass's, which is awesome.
Speaker 2: So that's great, and in a format I actually like more. You know like I'm more of a visual person and I like the movie side of it more than. Yeah, some of that pieces. So yeah, it's gonna hit differently.
Speaker 1: And then who watched Billy Yang's content in his waiting in the wings to you know like that's amazing. So we'll find out. I have the majority of my questions for you are around the event scene, because this is just what we're fascinated about right now. I think the first question I want to Talk to you about is a heavy one. I was just listening to Craig Thorneley on Andy Jones Wilkins's podcast, crack the Brute, ajw, and He talks about how there's a lot of tension between Embracing the past in what has made an event great and memorable Etc versus being open to innovation and all of these things that potentially could be good or it's worth testing, worth experimenting with, and That is just difficult to like ride that line or to lean too far into one area or to fall back into the other, and you're never Gonna satisfy people when it comes to like those two camps. Where do you tend to stand, given that you're so embedded in all this?
Speaker 2: It's a good question, first of all because We've talked about soul sports versus money-making sports and personally I don't think there's really a difference. But that's because I don't see innovation and tech and new as a question. I see it as a How does it fit your mission If your mission at Western States is to create an Accessible event that has some elite, some participatory piece I'm only saying Western States because Craig Craig brought it up Yeah, some elite. But you also want to represent the Sierra Nevada trail culture the way it was, like that's your mission And then maybe take that money because they have a nonprofit that runs it and keep those trails in good shape. How does that tech help fulfill that mission is really a question, because that mission may be very different at UTMB It may be very different at run.
Speaker 2: Local events are our company where we're trying to produce Road races specifically in a regional area to support that area. So I don't think it's like a Tech helps here or tech doesn't help here. It helps what you're trying to do and I Don't know it. Obviously we want what you try to do to be equitable and accessible and in in generality, but in the end you're gonna have a different goal for every event. Does that make sense in turn? I mean, it's almost like taking it back and not trending Yeah it makes total sense.
Speaker 1: I mean, here's one, one scenario that I could imagine happening not necessarily Western States, but some other events, especially in the American scene is Moving farther and farther away from being this event that celebrates the amateur, towards an event that celebrates more of the professional, the Jim Wamsley type, the Courtney, the Walter type. And I can totally see not that it's happening yet, but I can totally see that tension beginning to form even more at a race like Western States, so like maybe in this case the. The professionalization represents the innovation and the historical nature of it represents the amateur part right and I Think it still goes back to what are they trying to do?
Speaker 2: I don't know if Craig in Western States has a responsibility To the rest of the sport to build Professionalism, like maybe that's what UTMB is for or maybe that's what that series is for. Maybe they have a responsibility to keep it amateur In amateur accessible event or something like that. And so maybe that comes back to me being an individualist capitalist of like if it's your property, it is up to you to an extent. Or if you are the, the race director here or you've been put in charge of it, like what is What is your, what is your mission? I keep coming back to it only because I think that it Things so focused was built in my likeness and my image and likeness and so run local is to an extent as well. And if you want something else, then go build it. You want to see something else, then that's up to you. You can't have other. You can't tell other people to an extent, like what you want to see in their event, i don't know, in their community and we've.
Speaker 1: There's never been a better era. If you want to be a builder or if you want to take action, to do so right like you can stand up pretty much anything Kind of overnight dude events and.
Speaker 2: I don't know people talk about this. It's essentially go fund me like, or What are they like? What are those? What are those things where they're like Oh, you find you can fund in a product, oh, Like a Kickstarter. Kickstarter events are a Kickstarter. You get money out in advance and then you don't do anything with it until like game day or whatever that race week is. Yes, there's a little bit of marketing, a little bit of branding, but that's all. Cash up front, people. It's. I don't want to tell them.
Speaker 2: It's easy, but it's the cash flow parts. Not that bad, it's a good, good business.
Speaker 1: Can you talk about the differences you see in operating events in our sport as a business So like really committing to it like an air viper running does or like a Greg Thorneley does Versus more of like a lifestyle or a hobby or like a side kind of thing Like is? is there an important distinction there and do you think there are quality differences as a result?
Speaker 2: I Think so. The word to me is Professionalism. It's like what do you wake up every day and think about? my? my Job and my team's job is to wake up and thinking about How to produce the most professional, organized, impactful you know, supporting our brands are in athletes in in a way that they're never gonna forget and that they It's gonna be an incredible experience. What is that person who's doing it between 5 and 8 pm Or on their weekends doing every day, like I think they're holding it together. And that is not to say that there aren't Better hobby or amateur race directors out there than some professional ones. I know some terrible. They like mailed it in years ago and they're just holding on for dear life. So maybe they can sell it or retire of some sort. But I'm not saying like every part-time race director is is amateurish. They might bring a ton of professionalism.
Speaker 1: By the way, is there money to be made in selling events, like if you're selling an event to like a UTMB? Do you suspect that there's actually like decent life changing money in that scenario, or is it kind of like? that's like maybe one or two years salary?
Speaker 2: No, there's money to be made for sure, i think. I mean it depends. It's gonna be like any other asset I think it's gonna have. You're gonna have to show your books for your, your annual EBITDA, and then they're gonna give you a multiplier and you're gonna walk away with, you know three to four years of whatever you made For it. So I it depends on what you consider life-changing for some people. That can turn into something That could be your second home, gotcha.
Speaker 1: Sorry to interrupt.
Speaker 2: by the way, i was just I know you like the business stuff and I like it too, and I just bought Oakland Marathon. So, corgan Sports, you're welcome for that second home. But it's funny because that guy's kind of a mentor to me leak Oregon is awesome, he owns the Baltimore Marathon and I was like what are you gonna do with this? And he's like I'm going to Florida, awesome.
Speaker 1: That's amazing, okay, but yeah, we were talking about sort of the much inside baseball. No, this is great. Hey, you know, if the audience doesn't like it, I don't care. This is all I. I make these shows for me. I make these shows for me and I just trust that there's gonna be some downstream effect.
Speaker 2: If you like it, then there's others like you.
Speaker 2: But yeah, we were talking about the The pros and cons of being professional, about this being hobbies about this, and I I really interrupted you, so No, and I guess what I'm saying is There's a professionalism to it. We wake up thinking about it and we have a job to do, not to mention our next job is gonna be based on, you know that the work we do on this, in this event, it's either gonna inspire it or it's gonna. You know, our, our experience is gonna hurt us down the road. So there's a lot writing on every event being executed at a at most highest level versus. You know, this might be the only event you have all year long. You put, which is could be a cool thing too, but it's not everything writing on it. You'll come back and you have another bite at the apple next year.
Speaker 2: The other thing I'll say to that is there's some amazing creativity though that comes out of, like the amateur race director and the person who hasn't put them on before, because you almost don't know what you don't know. You're like doing things differently because you just think that's how it should be done. You're I'm thinking any aid stations, courses, like how you interact with your, with your audience, something like that. It could be a really cool way. So I think there's a ton to learn from those that are just picking up. Pick it up as a side hobby and job And I love personally attending small races for those inspirations.
Speaker 1: Who do you think that most RDS in the trail running world or even the road running world are Copying from or borrowing from? because I have to imagine that there's like this, this RD or this event series out there that people are like That's the one there, the people that are at the bleeding edge and like we're just gonna like basically take their model, install it over here and and run with it and hope that it works in our region. I.
Speaker 2: Mean me for the most part, not just kidding.
Speaker 1: Oh.
Speaker 2: I mean, i think I think we're influential to an extent. That was supposed to be a joke, but there are certainly some names and some groups that are doing things. One that comes to mind is this guy, mike Nishi. He runs operations at Chicago. Chicago event management should have him on some way. But in terms of like operations communications, like how they're managing those 45 to 50,000 people on The race week and on the day is really incredible. Like to the point where he's had shadow programs where you can go and shadow Mike and their team to run Those things. So like there's a depth to that stuff. And in road race management, because there's just so it's so hard man To put on a safe event these days over 50,000 people To. They just masterminds, they're really subvolunt.
Speaker 1: So road is harder than trail to execute. I.
Speaker 2: Think just the people, just then masses, to control them and and to do it safely. It is, it's tough, but that then you go to Jamil and the team at our Viper and Cocodon to 250 and you got to tell me you're gonna produce an event for five days. Like what? yeah, oh, excuse me, he's amazing. So I think a lot of people I don't know if you guys look at Jamil, i look at Jamil for inspiration back into road and into other things. So I think it, if you're smart, you're looking both ways. You're not just looking or you're looking even at track and field and seeing what's working there. Or if you're really smart, you're you're going to Music festivals and you're looking at what is hyping people up at that time and trying to bring elements of that back to back to your race Or to your, to your event.
Speaker 1: There are so many options out there, even just in the trail running world these days, in terms of where to plan out your race schedule, where to go, where to race, and it makes me wonder, given that there's so many races out there, it's relatively easy to get something up off the ground. Do you find that there are more mediocre events out there, or do you find that, by and large, the people that get into this, they care about the Art form aspect of this, like they think of putting on a race like their Sistine Chapel or or carrying out an impact, like on the spectrum there? Where do you typically lean?
Speaker 2: First of all, i think I mentioned to this before we started recording, but I have a hard time speaking Fluently or with knowledge of the trail space and the ultra space as much as your audience does. So I think there's gonna be a lot of elements where, like this guy's such a kook, he is a business-minded You know any brand agency Representing carnazes. That's what he knows about. Ultra running like that's not what this is about.
Speaker 2: You're absolutely right, that's that's that is accurate now Do I have, like, am I watching it all times? Yes, like, i'm following all of you on Twitter. I'm such a fan, from afar, of the business, of all of the industry, of industry, of run, so I guess I'm coming to take it with a grand assault. It seems like there's a whole bunch of half-ass events out there to me, like, and it's hard to know, like sometimes they look, everything looks the same and it's hard to know until you get out there. Do I think everyone's heart is in the right place for the most part? Yeah, i think everyone's trying to build the Sistine Chapel. They just don't know how to paint another Thank you to sponsor HVMN.
Speaker 1: Hvmn is my choice for exogenous ketones. If you are curious about using exogenous ketones in your training, racing and day-to-day life, head over to HVMN com, get a bottle of ketone IQ and if you want a 20% discount in the process, use code Singletrack20 at checkout for 20% off your next order. I want to ask you a couple questions about COVID, because I don't know if the pandemic is still going on or if we're out of it. We're kind of reflecting back on the last three years, but it never happened in Florida.
Speaker 1: It never happened and you, by the way, it never happened in Utah. We never had to go right here. It's amazing, but, um, what were the lessons from those like years of 2020 to 2022 for running events? like, and I think specifically, i'm curious to hear your perspective on like, where COVID broke the cycle on the status quo for events, where it made you start to think differently What you kept, what you leaned into, what you left behind, like, take that wherever you want.
Speaker 2: Yeah, i'll take it one place For sure and I think it was more philosophically for me, which was to just keep moving. Like there was this element where I think a lot of people just paused and they stopped. An event stopped and It did. There was some good and bad for it, but for us it I don't do well in that environment, like I don't do well in in status quo or in In a lack of movement. So our company kept everyone on staff, kept I don't know what it was 16 people without event revenue coming in. It was very, very tough to do. We all took pay cuts But we kept doing things and I don't know if they were the right things, the wrong things, but for one, we started some virtual events.
Speaker 2: We started a thing called the California coast 500, which was Encouraging our athletes, our participants, to virtually run from Santa Monica pier to the Golden Gate Bridge over the summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day So that was just after COVID and just kind of like hit California. Things were still pretty shut down But you were encouraged to like track your training from Memorial Day to Labor Day and see if you could get 500 miles in walking or running. For us it was just as much of us to keep moving as it was to keep our participants moving. It was like we got to keep doing things. Let's keep going, let's not let this stagnate us and let's keep everyone going and keep staying sharp.
Speaker 2: There are events that just went away. They froze and they haven't come back since. I don't think, like some of them in the Bay Area, at least that I've seen specifically is they left and they weren't able to keep going, or they went and got another job or whatever. I'm not sure what happened. So I think there's an element of two. One keep moving to keep your people moving. Three keep your runners moving and in a way that kept us just sharp and ready for whatever it was whenever the industry did come back. And when it came back, our company, like our team, was still rocking a. we didn't have to bring anyone back. Be, we're ready to answer that call. Three, that there was just like a preparedness, and maybe that wasn't intentional, it was just. That was our, that's in our, in our blood, that's in, that's in our intuition, i think you mentioned the virtual event stuff.
Speaker 1: Were there any other things that you experimented with in those like early days of COVID that you found ended up working and even in a post COVID environment? they were relevant, they worked. It was just good business strategy, good event experience, good like engagement with your runners that like still have a place in 2023 and beyond.
Speaker 2: Yeah, i think it gave us more time to work on on our digital footprint. I mean, if you're not going to be in person, what are you doing to communicate with your runners, whether that's going to be creating a day of the week? we created a day of the week called run local Wednesday. That became our newsletter day. That became an Instagram live day. It came a day we would release a podcast or something like that. Now run local Wednesday still exists today because we just we're like let's just create something that we can can put on our calendar every week to put something out, and and I think before COVID, we were just like, do it whenever, like put it out here without there. It just made us a little bit more organized and a time to connect with people.
Speaker 2: Trying to think if there was other ones, i don't like the event stuff. I'm going to say no, like we want. We wanted the events to kind of go back to the way they were in terms of like when we're coming out of COVID. There were these weird like you could, we would start in really small corrals. You would start in, like, with masks on. You might have seen a picture of you.
Speaker 2: Mentioned carbon X to the James Wamsley 100 world record attempt. If you see a picture from that, it's so wild. They started that race with a mask on and then they took the mask off Like 50 meters after the run, after they started, and was like what was the point of that? It's just like all these weird little things that were. I mean they seem they seemed like we were just being precautious and the brand, honestly, was just being cautious at the time to in terms of optics, whether that was from them Left or the right, whatever it was there, they were being cautious and that that's fair. So I think there's a lot of things where we're like that's silly, we're never going to do that again. But Yeah, there's elements that I learned in terms of ethos through through the pandemic that I'll never forget in terms of how we react to crisis situations, and then there's things that I don't want to retain after as well. Do you think that there's a lot of things that we're going to do to help us? I mean after as well.
Speaker 1: Do you think that there's a mandate out there for all events companies to add this media arm? I know we were just talking about air Viper running to 12. I don't want to say a large extent, but to a significant extent, a lot of what Jamil did on social media, on YouTube, with their film series. I think that's brought a lot of inbound into their events. So is it should you only do it if, like you, already kind of have the interest in it, or is there like a place for all event brands to follow a similar playbook?
Speaker 2: Yeah, it's a good question. I think I'm in put. The experts will tell you is. You have to be yourself on those platforms. You can't be like trying to be Jamil or myself or yours or whoever. It is yourself to do that. But I have a hard time seeing a successful brand out there, whether it's an athlete or an event or a brand themselves, without a digital facing strategy. It's just like how are you going to get that message out there in any other way?
Speaker 1: Even if you have race results.
Speaker 2: You're going to be less valuable.
Speaker 1: The last question I want to ask you in this area is just this whole idea of like. For some event companies it's one and done, like you just have like this event that happens, maybe, like with Western States, it happens in June 2023. And then the rest of the year is just open space and you're doing all sorts of other logistical stuff. Talk more about your perspective on extending that value proposition. Pre and post event Like. Maybe it is all in the digital space, but is there anything else that comes to mind that an event can do to be relevant to their customers?
Speaker 2: And you're speaking my language right now, fen because it's a big thing that we've been working on our team with, because the value there is the value to your partners And that could be any of your partners, whether that's a sponsor partner like an Under Armour or a Hoka who partners with our run local events. We are basically, it can be an arm. We could be an agency. The Oakland Marathon could be an agency to Under Armour throughout the year because we might have 50,000 people on email. We have 10,000 people that just finished the race and another 10,000 that are going to run the race the next time, not knowing who those people are.
Speaker 2: There are so many things you can do from community runs throughout the year. I think they're. I mean they could be pop up runs, they can be something on a holiday, they could be something fundraising in the city of San Jose. In a couple of weeks We're doing a cleanup, like a river cleanup, with the mayor of San Jose, but we're utilizing our run audience to bring them out to do that Like, go for a run, they're going to clean up San Jose, then we're going to go get tacos and beer. There are so many opportunities to engage that audience throughout the year, that are going to help you on race day, that are going to keep them engaged, that are going to be like making a better community of these runners. Of course they're going to do your runs if you're the one investing in them throughout the year and connecting with them on real things. It just seems for me so obvious to keep that going, and as long as you have the right people and it's fun, then it shouldn't even be a question. Don't turn off, always on.
Speaker 1: I'm sure there are at least a few ambitious race directors that are listening to this conversation. for those ambitious race directors, what's your general thesis on how events grow and hit like an escape velocity or get to a level of impact and reach and registrations that you find satisfying?
Speaker 2: Man, this is something we talk about every day. This is the great, easiest question ever.
Speaker 1: One is retention.
Speaker 2: So you're going to get to a place. Let's say you do. One is getting your event off the ground and creating a good, well executed event. This is you can't build a house on sand, so that means it's got to be functional in all ways that you expect it as a runner to be functional. That's one. Now, once they're there, it's got to be a good time and they got to be able to tell people about it, and not just on that execution part. There's got to be something different. There's so many races out there. What's going to be different about it? Some experience on the course.
Speaker 2: In San Jose We have a very strong Latino community. We have a Mariachi mile. That mile is filled with 12 mariachi bands, like for the entire time, and people are pumped on it. They don't even like Mary. You know like no one's like I'm a huge Mariachi music fan. Well, some people are, but when they get to Mariachi they're fired up and they tell people about oh yeah, the one with Mariachi mile. All right, that's two is an experience on the course.
Speaker 2: That experience on the course is going to build retention. That means you're building like an experience, a memorable piece, something to share, something you want to go do with your family and friend next time. So you're building that little thing that's going to bring them back, because you don't want to have to sell to 100% of the new people every single year on these events. You want to be able to sell to just 50% of the people. And then that's where the last part comes in, which is digital marketing, seo being on top of the algorithms. What's going to happen in terms of your content, sharing of those experiences that you just created in that event, and filming it and delivering it, feeding it right back to that population. So it's just like build, create an experience, deliver that experience, whether it's digitally or in a way, and then it's going to sell itself.
Speaker 1: How many people do you have on staff, for example, that are in the trenches, like thinking about this stuff, especially from like a marketing standpoint?
Speaker 2: We only have. Well, i didn't include myself because I freaking love it, so I'm still on it. There's four of us doing that at Run Local, but then we have a staff of 20 that are doing this for brands all over the country, whether that's Under Armour, hoka, solomon, gopro, strava, stuff like that. So they're thinking about the same things, but they're thinking about it for those brands to help them create those experiences in those moments, and they're doing an amazing job.
Speaker 2: Finn, we have an event coming up the Hoka Festival of Miles. It is going to be in St Louis. It's awesome. Runnerspace will stream it. The Big River Management Team, the Big River Run Management Team, they produce it and they've all got so much passion for the sport to see these high schoolers run a mile really fast. There's some 800 meters too, but Hoka and Soul Focus is bringing so much magic to it. Some of it it's just going to be an experience for the athletes of when they show up to the lounge that they get to see and to the announcements, that they will feel like a football player coming out on a Friday night, having their name announced and running onto the track, whether that's lights, fireworks, and then the moments they get afterwards, whether they PR, or we're going to try to get as many boys under sub four as possible all in one race. So there's just like these elements where there's this is more than a business. This is like we love it. You know you have to love it to get to that level, i think.
Speaker 1: I got a random sort of medley of remaining questions to ask you. The first one is based on something you tweeted out maybe a year or two ago. You've been vocal about these sports based Netflix shows like Drive to Survive and Full Swing and how they help grow fans, and I think you said that one of the easy lessons is right there in front of us. It's all about athlete storytelling, and when I think about the chance to replicate this in the running world it could be trail running, it could be road running, it could be track and field, etc. Do you think we are ready for this opportunity if it came to us Like? is our sport sufficiently organized for the presentation to make sense to a general audience?
Speaker 2: Short answer no, i don't think we're organized enough in terms of a team setup or a schedule setup or a league or like a. In all of those shows there seems to be a narrative.
Speaker 1: Concurrents.
Speaker 2: And that plus you go from this step to this major, to this thing, to that thing, and it's got like a built in narrative. So we either have to create it within that show and say, hey, there's the beginning of the season, here's the end of the season. We're trying to get to this championship and be able to show a victory, like they have in Drive to Survive at the Constructors Cup or whatever that thing is, and same in Maker or Break. It's surfing had to do it. Surfing had just a splattering of 12 random pro events And then they had to create points and get to it and there was pushback. but you know what? They created it and now you finish with a champion and with a weekend of like a Final Four.
Speaker 1: I'm sure there's a lot of bottlenecks in our sport that make the organization part, the coherence part in terms of like packaging this up a reality. But what do you see as the most important bottleneck in all of this right now to make something like this happen where, like you know, you don't just have, like, the Diamond League over here and this over there in trail? It's like you have the Golden Trail series, you have UTMB World Series, you have the Golden Ticket series, there's all these competing events. Where do you see it? It could be in road, it could be in trail, like Yeah, track two.
Speaker 2: It just seems to be governing body. It seems to like get in your own way And it goes back to that piece of what is new and people love to fight against it. So it almost will take that visionary and I feel like that strong hand and something to bring it together and be like this is how it's going to be And, I don't know, it might have to be shoved down their throats. I'm like this is what we need to do And this is where we're going, And maybe that's happening as we speak with a UTMB kind of a feel, I'm sure And I'm saying maybe because, again, I'm coming at this as a noob and I don't know all the intricacies of the play in that piece.
Speaker 2: But I'm saying it because sometimes it takes that vision to go and create it And some people are going to be frustrated but it's like, oh, whatever, maybe you weren't meant to be on the pro circuit. I'm like that might not be for you.
Speaker 1: Knowing what you know about how the sausage is made in our sport, which category of operators? It could be the athletes, it could be the RDS, it could be the brands, et cetera. Which of those operators have the most power in our sport? That's the first question And I think the backup question off of that is based on who has the power. who has the most power? are their incentives aligned with what it takes to create this type of sport where we package up this awesome entertainment product that reaches the general audience?
Speaker 2: Yeah, you're making me rethink my last answer now because I think it's pretty. I say it's obvious because it's obvious to follow the money, Like who's making the most money and all of this.
Speaker 2: It's not the athletes And it's not some organizing committee And it's not Josh Moe putting on his 10K or his 5K. It's the person selling the gear and the shoes and the stuff who is making billions, or some of them millions. And so I have put my stock and my it's. The reason we have an agency to work with brands is because it's where we think we can make the most impact. We can get access to the biggest budgets And, let's say, we really do care about those kids, like that's why we're going big at Festival of Miles, that's why we work with Eat, learn, play, steph Curry's organization at the Oakland Marathon, like.
Speaker 2: But we're taking brand money and we're funneling it to those opportunities because that's where we can make the most impact. So I think, to answer your question, they're the biggest player, so are they the ones to also stand the most? I think everyone stands to win if this thing is better organized and we have a better story right. That's why I think everyone's important. You've heard like death by a million, cuts, like. I think it's like life by a million, like by a million people doing the right thing in this space to create this a great organization. But the brands have the most power.
Speaker 1: I may be messing this up, so please feel free to correct me as I like describe this, but if you look at a sport like basketball or baseball or football, in those sports, in terms of the power hierarchy, it's the owners of the teams that have the most power, right? And in those scenarios, like, the brands have a secondary impact on the sport, like if you're like LeBron James, you get your contract with, like the Los Angeles Lakers, and then you have this like medley of brands to negotiate with. Do we have that equivalent, though? I don't think we do, and so what I'm wondering is and I think I'm agreeing, i'm definitely agreeing with you that the brands have the most power on our sport, but, like, what would happen if they didn't and who would fill that space? Like who is the appropriate person or type of person to fill that space? I don't know the answer. By the way, i just I'm not quite sure.
Speaker 2: I mean, i guess it would be if we could come up with some really strong teams. I don't even know what they would be The Coquino Cowboys, like you know what I mean, and they would go against the Barclays boys or something like that, and that's in the trail world, but in I'm thinking also Ben Rosario and NAZ Elite and some of the team. But some of them are so affiliated with the brands already It's hard to like to get them to be disconnected. So it's like almost brand agnostic You're still sponsored, but you own the team. I want a team, by the way.
Speaker 1: I just realized it, me too, me too, and it just made me think like if we were to like brainstorm a list of wealthy benefactors out there, like the Robert. Crafts running the Jeannie Buses, of running like. Could we make a list of the Phil Knights? Could we make a list of 30 wealthy benefactors that could stand up a team in Flagstaff, seattle, portland, salt Lake City overnight, and then the brands could play a secondary role in all of this.
Speaker 2: I think we could do it Ben.
Speaker 1: Maybe this is part of our.
Speaker 2: We fixed it. No, i mean, we were doing some investment in some rounds and there are some people out there that just love running. They want to see it big and they want to make these investments, but they don't know where to make it, and they don't. You know what I mean. The plan isn't, the schedule's not there.
Speaker 1: So it's just a routing issue at this point.
Speaker 2: It really is. we just need to get we lubricate the pockets, that's it.
Speaker 1: I kind of want to talk about you for a second. You have been public about how you used to quote stay in your lane. But nowadays you're starting to find your voice. You want to have this bigger impact. You're assuming more leadership positions in the industry. What prompted this transformation?
Speaker 2: I think it's time in this industry if I you know, we started this conversation talking about 2007, may coming out of law school and working with Dean and seeing that world, then producing events for other people, then owning my own events, then working on the agency side, then representing athletes again like coming full circle on some of these pieces.
Speaker 2: I've seen a lot of things and maybe it's given me confidence to be like, oh, i can hold myself, you know, hold my own in most rooms in this space with some you know you ask well, i'm asleep, probably knows who I am. All those you know what I mean Because of these experiences I've had. But it's also because I look around and I want certain things to happen and I don't see anyone else. I can tap for some of those things to happen And that's a gift and a curse, right, like I want to be home and hang out with my family a ton too, and be relaxed, but at the same time I want to see some impact in this industry. I want to leave it better than when I found it bigger, more people participating, whether it's in trail, run, track, road, whatever, i don't care, as long as you're moving. So for me it's like looking around, and if they're not going to do it now, i feel a responsibility, but an opportunity to do it as well. I feel like our team is well positioned for it.
Speaker 1: I'm sure there's a laundry list of things that you want to tackle in the next few years and decades, but what are you most obsessed with right now? on that list of places you want to have an impact, like what is keeping up at night, or what do you think about when you go on runs or when you're surfing or when you're on a walk, or just thinking what are you obsessed with?
Speaker 2: Yeah, one. I'll do a specific and then I'll do a generic. My specific is a run local brand. It's the hat I'm wearing right now. I really, truly believe the most impact you can have is on your community and in the people you affect every day.
Speaker 2: You know, it the best right. So for me, i know the Bay Area, I know the San Francisco Bay Area, i know the neighborhoods, i know the Beating Heart of Oakland, I know the spots running in San Francisco. Grew up in San Jose, whatever it's gonna be I know those places and I can say that with confidence. I also know that it's completely like a bit disorganized in terms of the running community. It's got a calendar that doesn't quite work well together. We've got a San Jose Rock and Roll Marathon, we've got a San Francisco Marathon, we now have an Oakland Marathon, we have a San Jose Half Marathon, a few smaller road races, like for me, i want to put them together, i want them to really work together so that we can make the most efficient, impactful, like local running series And that seems small, but if you look at New York Roadrunners and what they've created in New York in terms of, you know it's a $100 million organization.
Speaker 2: They're giving a ton of money away to nonprofits and getting people moving throughout New York. That is not a small impact. Like that is a very big impact for a regional endurance series. They're doing a great job in LA with LA Marathon, atlanta Track Club doing a great job out in Atlanta, bringing their entire community into an organized club, and so, for me, putting those pieces together in the Bay Area, something I think I can do and most positioned to do, so that's what gets me fired up isn't it.
Speaker 1: Well, i was going to say, given that you are so motivated and you have this vision and there are big things you want to tackle. it reminds me I was listening to this podcast. it's called Invest Like the Best. it's like this business show, really good. I highly recommend it.
Speaker 1: And the host had this the founder of Zoom Info On, which is this business development software?
Speaker 1: And he makes this analogy when he's talking about how he builds his team and he compares the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Boston Red Sox And he's like look, you could go work for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Speaker 1: So you could go play for the Pittsburgh Pirates and you're going to make a good living, you're going to have a great time, but you're not going to make the playoffs and there's never going to be an expectation that year that you're going to win a championship. You're going to go home at the end of the season and have this long off season Meanwhile over on the Boston Red Sox. every single year it's make or break, or set up to win a championship And if we don't win it it's an abject failure. And because of that championship mentality, there is this incredible amount of pressure and expectation that we place on every single one of our players, our employees, to execute on that. And if you don't want to be there and if you don't want to be a part of that, go play for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Does that resonate with you at all in the way that you build your team, given that you have impact minded goals for your career?
Speaker 2: Yes, i mean I think they know where I want to be, but I also think we're the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and that we're doing it kind of scrappy. We expect to win, but we're doing it with money ball, like we're looking for inspiration all over the place. So, yes, we're a championship caliber, but we're not. We just don't have the bank account, the bank role of the Red Sox. So I don't, maybe we're in between. I like baseball.
Speaker 1: All right, we haven't done like a lightning round in a while, but I have these questions that don't make any sense in terms of categorization, so I'm gonna just put them in the lightning round Back in 2021,. You tweeted about the NIL. You said, quote this shit is going off Exciting for athletes, war zone for agents, agencies in snake oil, soothsayers end. Quote. Love that tweet, great tweet, by the way But is there any applicability to the running world? Like, do you see this whole NIL system benefiting collegiate runners, pre you know Brooks Beasts, pre Hanson's, pre you know signing with Nike? stuff like that?
Speaker 2: Yeah, i mean, i think if you're a good storyteller and a good content creator, i think brands are looking for you right now And I know some of them And I know I've been tasked with some of that. Find me a high school kid that can tell a good story, can utilize the camera and or their phone that we could bring to it. So it isn't all. It helps to be Caitlyn Tuhi if you know who. She is one of my favorite athletes. She's just a stud. She was awesome in high school, she does it right And she got an NIL deal specifically with Adidas before coming out. So is it helping her Absolutely? Can she bring value to Adidas? I think so And stay in college at the exact same time and be part of her Wolf-Back National Championship teams? So there's specific examples, but I think there's also the content creator opportunities to be like a good storyteller and just be in the industry. If you know who Ben Crawford is at New Gen it's called New Gen Track and Field They have a YouTube channel.
Speaker 2: They're pretty. They probably make some people cringe a little bit, but it's also like kids are cringy, Like what do you want them to do? And also I want them to be themselves. So, at the same time, Ben and his team not that they're NIL, but they're speaking to a younger audience and I think it's good for the sport- There's this quote I just came across that you reminded me of with the New Gen stuff Old folks worry about the soul of the sport.
Speaker 1: Young folks live it.
Speaker 2: Yeah, oh, that's so good.
Speaker 1: So it could be the case that they're just forecasting what's going to be mainstream in like 10 years.
Speaker 2: I don't know. That's really good And it's true. And it comes with the tech parts too, Like yeah, not all of it's going to stick, but you can't just do things exactly the same way forever.
Speaker 1: What's your favorite running content to consume right now? that might surprise a trail running audience, given that you're so steeped in, like the road, and the track road in particular.
Speaker 2: So anything Jimmy else doing, honestly, i think I love his live streams to the point where I've taken them and sent them to my team and been like create, do this, i don't care how you do it, I want like I think people like that like slightly lack of professionalism, that they don't want it perfectly clean, and I don't think that's just trail. I think they want to engage in that all the time, to feel like they're behind the scenes, to feel like they're part of something that they could comment in on the side of it. The No Dunks podcast does that for me too, that I know that's not a trail running piece, but No Dunks is like a great thing to tune into on YouTube after a playoff game, because you're getting immediate reactions and you also feel like you're chiming in yourself. So I think something that combines like the, the participants, to make them feel like it, but also that that person feels like they're on your level to an extent and you're talking to them, and I think that could be cool for all of running.
Speaker 1: So, whatever Jamil's doing, He's a early adopter too, like before he was on the live stream train. he was very early on the YouTube stuff and just like the importance of social media for business development. It's kind of like you know where is Jamil going, maybe we all just go there.
Speaker 2: So he works so hard though I mean it's it, he works harder than me, which is that's not saying something, and he dedicates all of it. So I mean there's just people out there that are really supporting the sport to meal, and the Arabi team are one of them. It's not easy. So if anybody thinks like, oh, they're so lucky you're, like they're the, they're the biggest, or oh man, they're too big, or something like that to spend a day in Jamil's shoes and see how tired you are, that guy grinds, he grinds, he drove.
Speaker 2: You know we were talking about the Walmsley carbon X2. I got Jamil to drive one of those Teslas that was pacing Walmsley throughout the entire thing. So Jamil was driving that car and he had to pee so bad that he called me on the radio there And he's like JT, i need to speed up a little bit so I can get out of the car and pee and then get back in the car And it's like well, i'll just drive a lap for you, you don't have to like get in and out of that He's such a legend.
Speaker 2: Shout out to Jamil.
Speaker 1: One more thing about Jamil. So maybe six years ago Jim Walmsley set the fastest known time in the Grand Canyon, going rim to rim to rim, and I don't think that that was the greatest run that day. The greatest run that day was when Jim Walmsley picked up Jamil at the North Rim of the Canyon. Jamil, gimbal in hand, sprints down that eight mile descent into the bottom of the canyon, following Jim step for step. It is amazing And there's a YouTube video on it. Like you don't see Jamil because it's his camera.
Speaker 1: But I don't know if I can, somebody's holding this thing but it's amazing And knowing what we know about the Grand Canyon, how, like, how much loose rock there is, how technical it is it's amazing. So Jamil is a great athlete too.
Speaker 2: But I said, i said technical, like I knew what it felt like to run down the thing. I was just trying to like fit in with your, with your audience. I don't know, i have no idea what it feels like. I have run some trail. I ran trans Rockies, the multi day stage race. Oh, awesome event. I would recommend anybody do those, those trans Rocky events. They have a six day and a three day all, throughout all throughout the collegiates there in Colorado.
Speaker 1: By the way and this is kind of a tangent, but I think when you're looking for inspiration to to grow the sport like for me, i'm very passionate about seeing trail running grow and and reach a wider audience. I do think it's imperative to reach out to seemingly disparate areas of the world, whether it's track and field or economics or the environment, like any other category, like find people that are doing something cool in that area and see if there's anything you can pull back from them into your world And like I think it's way better to do that than to be, like you know, provincial about it and just like source everything from inside the ecosystem.
Speaker 2: I'd agree. And if we're getting to that point in the show where we're talking about those like long lasting kind of issues, yeah, things that.
Speaker 2: I didn't kind of get. I didn't fully get to it. Is that, please, we're? we're on a mission to like get people moving? like that, If it's a mate. I talked about the very specific move mission of movement in the San Francisco Bay area, But on the bigger scale of getting people outside in movement. I know I listened to your episode of Robin Thurston from outside And I completely agreed with him in terms of like we are battling screen time, right. So yes, let's use these screens to get the message out And then let's get these people off the screens and outside. I've got a kid and another one on the way And that's what I think about is like how am I going to keep them outside and keep them fired up and keep them moving on this thing And I have to think that's the same for parents around the world Like oh, my gosh, I don't envy.
Speaker 1: Well, it'll probably happen to me in a couple years, but like this, this daunting prospect of raising kids in a screen, first world.
Speaker 2: Yep, it's got to be. This is challenging, it's going to be challenging, but, at the same time, if you know, at least we know the, the antidote which is the real screen in front of your life, the real feeling, the real loose gravel under your foot, And that that feeling is there's nothing compares to it. The surf, the cold water, Pacific Ocean on your face, whatever it's going to be, there's nothing. There's nothing like actually living.
Speaker 1: Well, there's probably a lot of operators in the sport that are listening to this And they probably want to learn a little bit more about what you do on a day to day basis And, if there's chances, to work together. But I have one more question before that, and that is given that you're so busy, but you have a lot of ideas. If you were a free agent and you had the chance to start from scratch and there was some other business you could run it could be in running, it could be somewhere else What would you do and why? So this is also sort of like a request for a start, because maybe you want someone else to go build it.
Speaker 2: No, i think these storytelling in this, in this sport, is so important, like I really believe in what you're doing and what the great the athletes that are doing, both how impactful that can be, and to share it and to make it cool and to make it fun. I think if I was to restart, i would do something more like a sub stack or I would create a version of myself. Maybe it was Dean 15 years ago when he was creating platforms for himself. That wouldn't go out, but I would probably create something of content creation business of my own, i think And if you for one, you don't need a huge staff. You can do it with contractors. It creates a little bit more flexibility.
Speaker 2: I love my team. I've got 20 plus people. They're amazing. They work their ass off, but they're still people I've got to feed And it's challenging. It's a challenge. Same with Jamiele. He's got a big team and you want to do big things, but if you wanted to stay nimble and out there and support the sport at the same time and make money, i would probably create something nice and sleek.
Speaker 1: So you started media company.
Speaker 2: Yeah, i would. That's awesome. Okay, you're right.
Speaker 1: Yeah, but the grass is always greener. So, I think, in terms of this last part of the conversation, let's get into final thoughts and calls to action. So maybe talk for a moment more explicitly about what you do And, just in case there are people in the audience that have a pain point that you can solve, just go more into detail about all that and how people can find you and whatnot. Yeah, we've got a few different elements to our business.
Speaker 2: So we're either producing events for a non-profit a Stanford Children's Hospital, the San Francisco Giants, something like that where we have a very specific thing that we need you to do, so all focus sports is going to be able to produce that event. Maybe we're talking about Delo, about creating an activation for them at a concert series in Miami, something like that. So it's not all run. So that's where, if you have a very specific thing that you want us to do, we can probably figure that out and bring that to life. Two is we're doing brand experience and strategy for Under Armour or Hoka Solomon Strava, and that's where they're coming to us with a little bit more of a challenge of like we want to go after a certain demographic, we want to be in this sport, we want to activate every Ironman across the world, or something like that. We're going to come to you with a solution and some of the logistics to make that happen. So everything from that festival of miles we were talking about earlier to make that very special high school event, and new ideas to we're going to be all night at Western States putting up Hoka inflatables that light up to show you all the different trail turns and bringing you into Forest Hill and some of the other aid stations, so we'll be bringing that team to life.
Speaker 2: And then the last thing we're doing is we're representing some impact athletes. This is not a place where we're making a lot of money, but we've got some really amazing athletes, such as Andrew Alexander King. He's a black explorer trying to climb as many mountains and volcanoes as possible. We're adding big waves to Don Berry, an amazing rock climber, and they've got some great guys. So I mean, from the athletes to the brand experiences, to the event activation, we're doing that. That's all sole focus. The last thing we're doing is is Run Local. We're in it here. It's our brand of proprietary events where we're actually doing the marketing, the sponsorship, sales and the production of events in California Awesome Yeah.
Speaker 1: Well, JT, seriously, I think I'm going to go run through a brick wall after this conversation. We'll make sure to link to all that in the show notes, by the way. But any other final thoughts for listeners before we go?
Speaker 2: No, just get out there and know that if you're working in this space, whether you're an event producer, an athlete, a coach, a volunteer at any of the events you're making an impact to make this sport bigger and better, like it is life, by a million people. How about that? And it takes all of us to create greatness.
Speaker 1: Thanks for listening. Before we sign off, if you are a fan of the show, please consider supporting us with a rating and a review in your podcast player, a donation on Patreon or the use of our sponsor discount codes in the show notes. We really appreciate your support. Thank you so much for listening And until next time. I'm your host, finn Milanson, and you have been listening to the Single Track podcast.