A growing focus on security and safety at events defines the year ahead
As the 2017 Running USA Industry Conference approaches, we want to introduce attendees and the industry at-large to our incredible speakers and panelists.
In the latest Speaker Series interview, we chat with Brian Lyons, vice president of race operations at GO! St. Louis. Leading a Race Camp on Course Operations at the Industry Conference, Lyons brings a wealth of knowledge on building strong community relationships, organizing and managing race day operations and so much more.
RUSA: What's your current role in the industry? What does your day-to-day work look like?
BL: I oversee the event operations and production for all GO! St. Louis events. My day-to-day varies, which is good for me - I'm not one to sit on one thing for a considerable amount of time. Some days I'm in the office churning out emails and tied to the computer, other days I'm meeting with our operations teams and community stakeholders or out on a site visit, making sure a venue will suit our events.
RUSA: How did you first get into the running industry?
BL: I've been running competitively since middle school and eventually ran in college, then tried the marathon a few times. A good friend of mine (Ben Rosario) worked for GO! St. Louis and asked me to volunteer. I ended up committing an entire weekend working with then Race Director, Mike Cosgrove. I was fascinated at how it all came together, all the moving parts and the genuinely good people that were a part of the event. In 2007, a position came open with the organization and the rest is history.
RUSA: You'll be moderating the 'Course Operations; Race Camp. What's one trend you're seeing in course operations right now, good or bad?
BL: I'd say the trends are challenging, but good. Two things that we see trending right now. Safety and Community Impact.
#1: Safety, security, and emergency management is hot right now, as it should be. We do have to be mindful about not getting away from the roots of how we do things operationally. If we let one aspect dictate the entire event, something else suffers, so keeping that balance is key.
#2: With the proliferation of events, we're impacting communities more frequently than ever. As an industry we have an enormous responsibility to be mindful of how communities are impacted. I believe we're getting more push back than ever and maintaining good relationships with those at the local level is paramount.
RUSA: Where do you believe the biggest opportunity in course operations lies in 2017?
BL: Making events safer. We're on an upswing on this learning curve for safety awareness. From how we manage road closures to educating our participants and volunteers with "see something, say something". We see this as a method of empowering our volunteers and runners, and encouraging them to be a little more aware of their surroundings.
RUSA: Working at GO! St Louis, you put on multiple races. What's one tip on how you manage numerous races throughout the year?
BL: Everyone has their own way of staying organized - what works best for one person, may not work for another. My one tip is keep that list of stakeholders across all events. This list includes government agency contacts, church and business leaders, and anyone else that we impact. Think not only decision makers, but also influencers. Keeping this list up to date - name, organization, contact info, the last time they were contacted, and a "notes" section for each.
Running USA (RUSA): What's your favorite part about attending the Running USA Industry Conference?
BL: The best thing about RUSA is the face time with the best in the industry. The Conference is filled with brilliant and talented people who are open to collaboration and share ideas. The big secret: Don't miss those morning runs - this is when some of the best conversations happen. One of the best things about running is we're all equals at a starting line. Look around, we're ridiculously dressed, sleep deprived and nervous as hell.
Apply this (the ridiculously dressed and sleep-deprived part) to those early morning runs where you could be running next to the race director of any one of the world's largest marathons, getting your miles in and talking shop. For most of us, you get this opportunity once a year. Make it count.
To learn more about the 2017 Running USA Industry Conference and see Brian Lyons speak, please visit: https://www.runningusa.org/running-usa-annual-conference