Tuesday, July 2, 2019

"That's a full-time job?"

I routinely get that response when someone asks me what I do for a living. It is usually preceded by my statement, “I’m the medical operations coordinator for the Marine Corps Marathon Organization.” I then further explain we have seven event weekends throughout the year, with 18 events ranging from one-mile fun runs to a triathlon and now an ultra. Our participants range in age from five to eight-six. The raised eyebrow stays, as they wonder what it takes to host and execute an event. These comments emanate from runners and non-runners alike.

For runners, the experience is typically this: they visit the exposition, pick up their bib and t-shirt, shop from a few vendors, maybe sightsee, eat a good dinner, and then hope to sleep well before they toe the line. On race day, hopefully, they cross the finish and receive their bling, get some food fuel, hang out for a beer, and talk about their times. A few will earn an award. Many will have used porta-potties and taken water or food from a station along the course. Some will visit the aid stations; some will lose contact with their running buddy and go to lost and found. But most have no appreciation of the behind-the-scenes Herculean efforts undertaken to be “race day ready” or as we call it here at Quantico MISSION READY!

Each event has its own signature and theme and identity and uniqueness. What we all have in common are the checklists and policies and protocols that need to get done in preparation for race day. The end of the event is just the beginning for race organizations. Media posts go out. All the equipment and supplies need to be packed up. The clean-up—oh the clean-up. Cups and trash and discarded clothing all need to be picked up and disposed of properly. Usually, the day after the event, permits and venues have to be secured for the next year. Phone calls start coming in about lost items, missed timing mat check points, and ill-fitting t-shirts. In the following week, bills need to be paid to law enforcement, Fire/EMS, and vendors. Participant feedback is solicited. Reports are completed to note what improvements are needed for next year.

For several of our organizations, there is already another event to be planned and executed. Marathon planning is year-round. There are so many aspects that need review, completion, and verification. Organizations have different structures, yet we all deal with finances, business, marketing, sponsorship, logistics, vendors, security, legal, medical, timing, and results. Each of these areas has a multitude of smaller areas of focus to complete. So yes, it is a full-time career.

I invite you to share your “ah ha moment” of what you learned about marathon planning that you didn’t know before and I invite to come spend some time with me or other coordinators to see and experience all the moving parts.

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