WARNING: If you're a marathon organiser looking for helpful tips and advice, I fear you may be gravely disappointed by this blog post. The word 'database' doesn't get a look in and it mentions crumpets more than once.
If you're interested in how you might juggle organising a new project in your spare time, as part of a wee team of three, this might tickle your fancy.
Although our marathon is based in Uganda, as bad luck would have it, for most of the year anyway, I'm not. Having said that I did have a few post-op hallucinations where I was waking up in a Ugandan hospital and that was fairly frightening...so I'm happy to be dwelling in the UK for my lovely liver's sake, for now anyway!
So although not based over there, for the first Running the Rift Maz, Paul and I spent six glorious weeks in Uganda, five before the event getting everything in place and running a LOT. And then the wonderful, if quite stressful, week itself. For the second year, due to real life commitments (work, bleugh) we could only escape to Uganda for three weeks including the event. So, the vast majority of the Rift planning and marketing is done from our little home, in the beautiful green countryside just outside Cardiff, Wales...
Working 9 til 5...ish
Today, I've got a whole day dedicated to planning the marathon - bliss! This doesn't happen very often (that little thing called work again), usually I tackle marathon tasks in the evening or on weekends. So here's my full-marathon-focussed day today:
7am (10am Uganda time) - Coffee made by Paul's fair hand and a Skype call (from bed) with Steve and Carlos at Kyaninga Lodge. We have these fairly often, just to keep each other in the loop and bounce new ideas around, they own/manage the lodge and handle most of the marketing for locals and expats in Uganda. The new idea from today's call was focussed on Ride the Rift - the sportive we're introducing to the mix this year - and how we could market it by giving bike cafes leaflets and a discount code. Do you think that could work?
We also had the always fun conversation of budget, gah. And, actually fun for the first time ever, giving them the numbers for runners signed up so far - we smashed our end of Feb target so we're all pretty happy with ourselves for once. Looooking smug.
8am - Up, dressed in running gear, hair forming a large, wild orb around my head, and replying to an email from a blogger who wants to get involved in the marathon. Really lovely guy and glad he's got in touch. Just wish we had more than our pittance of a marketing budge to get more people like James involved. The marathon has such a special spirit, we just want everybody to be a part of it! One day :)
Then onto other emails from people thinking of signing up to the event and asking some - very good - questions. These are the emails that take the longest to reply to but they're my absolute favourite. I think people worry about travelling to Uganda, and I revel in helping people feel comfortable and bloody excited about their trip - it's called the Pearl of Africa for a reason! So I never rush these emails, I enjoy finding out about people's motivations and helping to ease their concerns. This is also really useful feedback for how we should market the event, or what info needs to be added to the website.
9am - Run. Today's was an hour easy trail run, hair miserably jammed into a buff, as I eased my troublesome hip flexor back into the art of running after a few days of it behaving like a right nob.
11am - Showered, dressed, classic Welsh breakfast of porridge wolfed down, and social media posts being planned for the day. I try and do an Instagram post most days, as well as a Facebook and a Tweet but sometimes, if I'm honest, nothing but shite is coming to my mind. On these days I leave social media well alone. You're welcome.
PANIC when I remember I haven't taken my tablets today and take them, two hours late. As per.
Noon - Taking some orange cycling jerseys to the printers to get the Ride the Rift Sportive logo printed across the back for a bit of brand awareness when we cycle London-Paris with a group of friends this June. Excitement. And the necessary computer faff that goes with that trying to get our logo into the magical format required, luckily the dudes at Cardiff Embroidery are very very helpful. And mask their sighs most politely.
1pm - Researching really really fun things like personal liability insurance and ABTA cover. Oh and organising a call with our team of fab medics (who are upping their prices this year and I spend a lot of time sweating with panic over it).
2pm - Post crumpet lunch (butter with crumpets on top more accurate), little check of the analytics for the marathon and the sportive websites. There's been a huge surge of traffic to the sportive website from Facebook, so trying to trace who's mentioned us so I can thank them...I think it was the amazing gang at plan2ride. I have such a crush on their business. If business crushes are a thing?
Also have a worrying amount of traffic never clicking past the homepage, so trying to work out what it is about the home page that's not enticing people to browse more - any suggestions and tips so hugely appreciated! ridetheriftsportive.com
2:30pm - We've decided to spend some of our marketing budget sending an email out via the brilliant running website fetcheveryone.com. I've been working with Ian to get this out, he's been a total breath of fresh air and he's really gone the extra mile for us and designed a brilliant email. He's also had the patience of a saint with me! So a few emails back and forth with him today, mine usually starting 'Sorry Ian, I know I'm useless...'
The email goes out later today so huge huge fingers crossed we get some interest from it - eeeeeek!
4pm - Now time to sit down with a fresh cuppa and dedicate some serious time and brain power to our sponsorship and business partner proposal, to lure some established companies to work with us and help us to spread the word. This is an ongoing task that doesn't seem to get any easier no matter how many cuppas I sit down with. Turns out I was so wrong to ever think this would be easy by year three, I'm constantly scratching my head and shaking my phone over how other events get big name support. I know our event is better than most which just means, when it comes to sponsorship, I'm doing something very wrong. Any ideas?
6:30pm - Paul's home from work :) I'll continue to sweat over the proposal for an hour while he fiddles with his beloved bike (jealous, moi?) and then, over dinner, I'll launch new ideas at him or throw problems his way and expect him to engage his brain immediately and solve everything for me :)
Because it's Friday and we can discuss maz stuff tomorrow, tonight we're allowed to put it aside for a bit. So our evening will involve some writing (I'm trying to write a children's book about organ donation and Paul's writing his second book, that man <3 ), and some cuddling on the sofa, oh you guys. Sickening.
You Still There?
Now I've written all of that I've realised how utterly uninteresting it is, hahah! Sorry chaps! At least I left out details like putting a wash on and googling 'are crumpets bad for you?' Both those activities actually happened.
I suppose right now we're in a phase between the initial launch of the Rift Maz 2018, where it was all new website and a new event format and new new new...and the event itself in Uganda, which is all hands on deck, no time to sleep or shower, new people, and go go go excitement!! I've picked a bad time to introduce you to my world! Mental note to do another one of these about organising a marathon from the ground in Uganda! That's a whole different kettle of hilarious fish.
But if you've made it this far, then a huge thank you for doing so :) I love our marathon, and if it was always easy and always fun - everybody would do it eh?!