RUNNING FLAT RADIO

AthleticsCanadaRoadSummit

I delivered the keynote address at last week’s first Athletics Canada National Race Directors Summit in Toronto before an attentive audience of event directors, federation officials, suppliers and media.  In my talk, billed as Innovations in Road Running, I urged a closer working relationship between events, athletes, and the governing body in an effort to rebuild the Canadian racing brand, which, like the USA’s took a nosedive in the 1990s.

I recalled that it was the birth of Running USA in March 1999 that the U.S. began to turnaround its distance running fortunes.  Created “to improve the status of road racing in the United States through collective marketing and promotions, services to runners and events and the development of American world class stars,”  Running USA’s early efforts led to the development of Team USA California in Mammoth Lakes which, in turn, helped kickstart American performance we still see in evidence today  — though Running USA has become less focused on the sport aspect than when it first began.

The summit in Toronto was the first such gathering since Athletics Canada named John Lofranco Coordinator of Road Running just over six months ago.  That it was the governing body itself which called the Race Directors Summit was a step forward from the American model where the lead was taken by the industry support group.

Running Flat founder Chris Uszynski

Running Flat founder Chris Uszynski

Among the attendees and presenters at the Canadian summit was Windsor, Ontario’s Chris Uszynski, founder and president of RunningFlat, an event promotion company which stages nine well-crafted boutique events in and around Windsor in Essex County just north of Detroit.  A very creative fellow, Chris very forthrightly admitted that Running Flat’s focus isn’t on racing, rather is intent on “providing a great Event experience for our family of participants, while raising money for great causes.”

RunningFlatRadioChris and I sparred a little at the summit during a session during which he remarked that he was “awards averse”, while referring to Running Flat’s goal as “getting people off the couch and into the sport”.  I suggested that in staging events like Color Runs and other events that don’t award prizes for performance at all, that he was introducing people to the activity of running, but not to the sport.  It may be a subtle distinction, but that split between fun running and competitive racing is what has defined the last decade in running, leading to, I believe, a zero-sum game whereby the growth of running as an activity has mirrored the lessening of interest in racing.

With that as a backdrop, I joined Chris on his weekly Running Flat Radio Show this past Tuesday.  My segment begins at 24:45.

Running Flat Radio can be heard every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. on AM 800 cklw in Windsor.  Many thanks to Chris for having me on his show.

END

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5 thoughts on “RUNNING FLAT RADIO

  1. Tomi: Was really great to hear you talk at the Road Director’s Summit in Toronto. Also nice to see you and Chris chatting on the radio. You have some amazing and important ideas that could hugely benefit the sport of running, if only we could figure out a way to make them happen!

    • No worries. Thanks for checking in and responding. It is important to realize there are some things that be accomplished collectively, that cannot be done on an individual basis. Group training is an excellent example of a collective dynamic assisting the individual members of that group. Returning Canadian racing to a more prominent position has to be seen in a similar light, as does the return to prominence of racing as a viable sport.

      Thanks, again for joining the conversation.
      Toni

  2. Toni; While I have nothing against mere participation, I wholeheartedly agree with your distinction between activity and sport. These are just two different terms to describe the difference between completing and competing.

  3. For the record Toni and I agree on the difference between activity and sport. That is why we do and produce both. Doing the real fun events and hopefully getting you into a timed 5K, 10K or even our Marathon or one of the 4 half marathons we produce. I like the Pro Tour idea!

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