During the pandemic, Eli Asch made a cross-country move from California to become the race director for Twin Cities in Motion. Little did he know that it would be another year before he’d lead the comeback of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in October 2021. With that race under his belt and a “big Minnesota beard” in progress on his smiling face, it’s safe to say that Eli has become one with the ways of the Minnesotans. Keep an eye on the Twin Cities to see what creative innovations this trendsetting race director introduces in the years to come!
Job title: Race Director
Race or company name: Twin Cities in Motion
Years in the industry: 12
What got you into the running industry?
I was a runner throughout high school and college, with a passion for the sport that exceeded my talent. When I graduated college I went to grad school to get an MBA in Sports Business with the intent of working in endurance sports or Olympic sports. A capstone internship with Conley Sports (the then-owners and operators of the Austin Marathon) led to a part-time and then full-time job with them, and I’ve been in the endurance sports industry ever since.
Why do you love your job?
I get to help tens of thousands of people, set, achieve, and best of all, celebrate their running goals. What could be better than that?
What’s your favorite part of event production?
I really like working in a team — being part of a group with a broad array of talents, seeing those talents brought to bear around a vision, and then seeing that vision become a reality. Also, if I weren’t in event production, I never would’ve learned how to operate a forklift, which is something everyone should know how to do.
And conversely, what you dread the most about “day of” the event?
I really hate having to pull people from the course or asking them to move to the sidewalk when they fall behind pace. But my biggest personal worry is sleeping through my alarm. I always set at least four combined alarms between two devices on race day (much to my wife’s chagrin).
Your go-to fuel up snack or meal on race day?
Whatever is nearby. I’m a vegetarian except on race sites.
The 3 most essential items in your backpack or event kit?
Snips, work gloves, sunscreen.
Do you have a lucky charm or outfit you wear? Maybe a quote you keep in mind?
I wear a Boston Red Sox hat every day. Even if I’m wearing an event-branded hat on race day, I always have my Red Sox hat in my bag, just in case it’s needed.
If you weren’t doing this work, what would you be doing instead?
In my ideal reality, playing centerfield and hitting leadoff for the Boston Red Sox. But in a more realistic alternate reality, teaching high school English, coaching cross country, and working on a collection of essays that would most likely never be published.
What was your top takeaway from your first Medtronic TC Marathon in 2021?
The power of our volunteers! We ask our Association Members (our 400 key year-round volunteers) to do so much, and they always meet and frequently exceed our expectations. I doubt there’s another road race in America that has a group of volunteers as dedicated and talented as the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. We’re very lucky.
What’s the next race you hope to run yourself?
Our start operations lead, Charlie Wasley, puts on the Moustache Run, a 5K, 10K, and half marathon the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I’m in no shape to race competitively, but I’ve been growing a big Minnesota beard for the big Minnesota race we just held, so I figure with a little bit of product I might have a chance to place in the moustache contest.
Anything else you’d like to add?
If you’re reading this magazine, you’ll also enjoy “Early Call Time,” the podcast I co-host with Running USA board member Tony Yamanaka which focuses on issues and news in the road race industry, including interviews with some of the people who keep the industry running. We’ve been on hiatus in the build-up to MTCM weekend, but by the time you’re reading this, we will be back!
Do you know a race director you’d like to introduce to the rest of the industry? Nominate them for a future feature in Race Director Magazine by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org