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Six Key takeaways from the 15th Annual Race Management Program Summit

In mid-June, Chicago Event Management held its annual Race Management Program Summit in Chicago to unite endurance sports industry leaders. Celebrating 15 years, the 2023 Summit revolved around the theme of “Purpose,” and each day was dedicated to different topics and discussions allowing industry professionals to come together to share their expertise and best practices. Below are some takeaways and photos from each session for those unable to attend! Keep the conversations going by joining our Race Management Program Facebook group.

  1. Non-Binary Participation and Creating Inclusive Spaces: Jake Fedorowski emphasized the importance of inclusivity, creating spaces that welcome non-binary individuals, and exploring strategies to promote non-binary inclusion within organizations.  As a non-binary runner themselves, Jake encouraged race organizers to work with their local LGBTQ communities to find out what running means to them and how their events can provide the best experience.
  2. Engaging Gen Z: Lucas Larson, Kevin Gunawan and Gaby Katz, the trio behind marketing and brand at the Chicago branch of Heartbreak Hill Running Company, discussed strategies for adapting and appealing to Gen Z’s interest and language. They emphasized the importance of exploring digital platforms such as Instagram and TikTok and using them as a tool for communicating with and reaching Gen Z. Authenticity was their key point, stressing that the new generation would rather see less produced content that feels genuine rather than high-quality professional content.
  3. Championing Diversity and Inclusion: Michael Clemmons shared findings from his recent research on diversity and inclusion in the industry and shared tips on creating impactful environments. Continuous efforts, like actively seeking and embracing diverse perspectives to provide feedback and ideas, are necessary for championing diversity and growth. Michael was also awarded the 2023 Break the Tape Award for his commitment to the endurance industry!
  4. Sustainable Action for Positive Environmental Impact: Tina Muir from Running for Real, and CEM’s Alessandra Pena and Cat Morris talked about how to be a sustainable organization both internally with your team and externally as an event. Consistency and education behind initiatives are key to get staff and participants to buy in!
  5. Emergency Preparedness: Josh Durkee and David Oliver of Western Kentucky University covered the one aspect of events nobody can control: weather. We can control how we respond to varying weather conditions, however, and they recommended always being prepared for changes and having a strong communication system in place to keep safety top of mind.
  6. Pregnancy and Postpartum Policies: As many events are creating new policies for pregnant and postpartum participants, Jon Bird from Calgary Marathon, Astrid Grimes from CEM, and Mary Miller from Boston Marathon shared their event’s approach on improving the experience for this audience. Similar to other new initiatives, it’s imperative to talk to participants who have been or are currently experiencing pregnancy and postpartum to understand their needs and how they can be most comfortable.