Big Sur International Marathon: Doug Thurston named Executive Director of BSIM, release, note by Larry Eder
Doug Thurston, photo couresy of BSIM.org
Doug Thurston is an industry executive who has a great rep in managing events, media and the throngs that inhabit a major race culture that is running in the twenty-first century. I am confident of his success and glad he is involved in such an important event. BSIM showed just how savvy they are by appointing an industry executive who understands our sport.
And so here is where I will make my request: Road Running has become an activity, it is, in very few places a sport. The races that support elite athletes, and even more unlikely, Americans who are trying to develop, are fewer and fewer each day. How can you blame races? They are watching every dollar, and they have not figured out how to get money from anyone outside of running. Some races are working with HMOs and food chains, but most, go to the holy grail of road running.
If a road race brings in a group of nice young foreign runners, many who speak little or no English, kiss your local media good bye. Bring in athletes who speak English, who can tell their story, who the local media can develop an empathy with, they, you have a story. Simple things like that, most race directors just do not either make the time or do not get. Hence, major events go on each weekend in US, and they do not get an agate in the local paper or website.
Big Sur has supported young, elite America athletes for years. If road racing wants to be recognized for more than a happening, then, make part of your event a real race. It is not about the money it is about the focus. Give up some hotel rooms, make the athletes visit schools, run with local high school or junior high, joke with a local sports reporter for ten minutes. Those are the details that an executive director who has experience like Mr. Thurston understands.
Road Racing could be, along with Track & Field the sports that are the focal point for the fight against Obesity. The idea of getting active, just moving, is what it is all about. A 5k runner who can break 13:30 gets that a person jogging their first half mile is scared to death, they have been there. After their race, ask your elite athletes to offer to jog a half mile with a group who is just starting to run. Those young athletes get it: their futures are based on how the sport grows.