So I like to sleep at night, and as a baby triathlete, sleep has become even more important than ever before. Up at 4:30am to swim, bike, or run, or bike, run, and swim, then run, (well you get the picture). Lately I have had some trouble getting caught up with that sleep. There has been some controversy out there swirling in some of the running community- and in my mind. A few years ago we were approached by the Rails to Trails folks, and they asked us if we could help them put on an ultra run out at Rails To Trails. The run was put on to raise money for some of the refurbishment that needs to happen out there, because of all the erosion. Like anyone that comes to us to put on a race, we agreed. Chris Ramsey had many ultras under his belt, so he knew what was needed to help make it happen. We put on running events every weekend, so it seemed like a no brainer to have an Ultra run in Savannah. It also sounded great to have one on our calendar we could call our own along with the Rails to Trails advocacy group. So as we do for all races, we supplied thousands of dollars in free marketing, race numbers, equipment, employees, and whatever it took to make the race a success, because we admired the cause. For those of you that may not know, we don’t charge anyone any money to assist in putting on a race. When you see us put on the Summer Sizzler in July that has about 300 people in it, or Y Kids Run that may have 100 kids, to Komen with 5,000, to the Bridge Run that has had as many as 6,000, we don’t charge a dime. Why? Well, talk about sleeping at night- all of these folks putting on these races all have a cause that is dear to them. How on earth could I take a dime from them, when they are trying to raise money for their particular cause? I would not be able to sleep at night if I did, so I don’t. Is it a good business plan? I don’t know; sometimes it’s not always about money. I do it because I like helping people, and in the meantime, I hope it comes back to people hanging out in our store, and shopping with us. Has that plan worked so far? Yes it has, as we continue to have very good years.
But now, I think I have made a mistake and I want to own up to it. Without really thinking beforehand, I put on a free 25K, on the same day as the Rails to Trails 25K. Now most of the people that have registered for our 25K admitted they had no plans to run the Rails to Trails run, with the exception of a couple of folks. We wanted something different on that day since we had been replaced as a sponsor, but we still wanted a 25K, since we enjoyed being a part of Rails to Trails ultra. Like any race, if you put on a good event, people will show up to run it, regardless of what other race is out there, and the race calendar is getting full. My actions have caused a bit of a stir for those who have accused me of being a bully, a Goliath, (if you could see my bank account you would know I’m no Goliath). I have received letters of encouragement and folks have come by to talk to me, even though I didn’t realize it would cause this. And I have been scolded by some of you, which again is ok. I didn’t know it would cause all of this, but I enjoyed talking and communicating with all of you. The bottom line for me is I am sorry to the Rails to Trails folks for creating this stir, and I apologize to Ledesma Sports Medicine for my actions.
Let me say this to all of you out there putting on races, or thinking about putting on a race. As an old man, and 25 years plus in this business, and since many people come to me and ask for my help to put on an event- let me leave you with a thought or two. When someone helps you from the beginning with an event, and pours thousands of dollars of their resources into your event, and supports your charity, your thoughts, and all of your ideas. My advice is that when you decide to make any changes, bring on a similar or competing sponsor, you should give the folks that helped you from the beginning and your title sponsor a call, a letter, or a visit to give them some heads up; anything, before you do those things. They invested in you. You should at least do that for them. It’s very simple in my mind, everyone and anyone has the choice to do what they want with their own event. But please have the professional courtesy to honor what past sponsors have done for you to help make your event a reality. Because at the end of the day, they want what you want: a successful race that means more money for your charity.
It’s the end of the year and I didn’t want to end the year not sleeping, and you know, in my 55 years on this planet, I have never ended the year by saying “I’m sorry” for something. There’s a first for everything and I’m going to sleep well tonight. Thanks for another great year Savannah and Low Country. Lots of cool changes coming in 2015, see you next year.
"Keep Your Chin Up for Strength, and Down For Prayer"
Fleet Feet Sports Savannah