Eight years ago, my husband, Andy Vidro, and I got the idea to organize triathlons in the Grand Rapids area. We created the Grand Rapids Triathlon in 2011 (held annually in June), the first event in the area to offer an Olympic and Half Iron distance triathlon, and the Michigan Titanium Triathlon in 2012 (annually in August)– which continues to the be the only full Iron distance triathlon in the state.

When we decided to embark on the journey of organizing these longer-course triathlons, we were coming into directing with only an athlete’s point of view. My husband and I have competed in triathlons since 2007 and 2009, respectively, but we had never directed an athletic event before – and we were in desperate need of knowledge. We were full of questions. Is there an organization that specializes in this? Is there a manual or training we could attend?

After some research, we found the USA Triathlon (USAT) organization (the national governing body for triathlons, duathlons, aquathlons and winter triathlons in the United States). Since a large percentage of triathlon race directors manage races part-time in addition to a full-time job, it was a relief to find a group that offered so much.

Here are some of the ways we benefited in partnering with USAT – and how you, too, can benefit from working with the national governing body of your respective sport on an event.

1. Training programs

We researched USAT’s resources and quickly enrolled in USAT’s Race Director Certification course. After taking the course and diving deeper into the support the organization offered, we realized there are thousands of others out there dealing with similar issues.

2. Support services and best practices

As time when on, we have realized how valuable this national organization is to the success of our event, in addition to the local support we receive from the West Michigan Sports Commission. USAT assists us with marketing, public relations, best practices, safety procedures, and many other services. One great example of the support we receive is the availability of officials to attend our events and monitor the course for rule violations and safety.

3. Meeting other event directors to hear challenges and successes

One of the most valuable benefits has been meeting triathlon directors in other regions who are willing to share their struggles and successes. We have made several friends whom we can call at a moment’s notice to discuss a critical decision or to solicit input from their experience on a situation. It often can feel like we are the only one dealing with an issue, and it can be challenging.

4. Resource sharing/saving

Coming together under one organization helped leverage our time, money and other resources.  Plus, having others to contact, brainstorm with and bounce ideas off of has helped us save time and money and develop better solutions. Many of these relationships develop at the USAT annual meeting.

Being involved with the USA Triathlon national organization has greatly benefited our events, and we encourage anyone responsible for producing an event to reach out to your national governing body and/or local association of your sport for assistance.

While not all of them may have the same resources as USAT, there may be other members out there who could be a wealth of knowledge. We also encourage you to invest in your association. By volunteering, attending meetings and just building relationships in general with your national governing body, you will see a big return on your investment!

Ann & Andy Vidro with daughter Avalynn

Ann Vidro
Guest Blogger
Ann Vidro is co-director of the Grand Rapids Triathlon and Michigan Titanium Triathlon.

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