Barbara is the executive race director for the Detroit Free Press/Chemical Bank Marathon and has been working with the event for 27 years!
An avid runner (this year’s plan is to complete one race a month), Barbara also enjoys outdoor actives such as golfing, gardening, and taking walks on the beach when visiting her summer cottage on Lake Michigan.
I asked this organizing expert what three things she needs for a great race day. Her formula: wonderful people, great organization, and communication. Sounds like the perfect recipe to me!
Here you go... 10 Questions With A Race Director: Barbara Bennage.
Beatles or Rolling Stones?
Tough one right off the bat but I’m going to have to go with the Stones. I’ve seen them six times and Mick Jagger amazes me every time.
Why in the world did you become a race director?
It was part of my job as a marketing employee at the Detroit Free Press so I had no choice. That was back in the day when we were one of very few races in the area and it was just one race – the marathon. So much has changed since then but I truly believe I have the coolest job in the world.
If you were an animal or vegetable, which specific animal/vegetable would you be and why?
As a kid I used to collect giraffes. I had over 100 statues, posters, jewelry, pictures, etc. I thought they were so graceful and beautiful – and I still do but I don’t collect them anymore.
What sponsors do you shamelessly want to plug?
Chemical Bank, our co-title sponsor (formerly Talmer Bank). A great group of people to work with and they get what being a sponsor is all about. While driving traffic to their banking locations is important, that’s not what they base the success of their sponsorship around. It is brand awareness, community involvement and employee engagement. They are truly a great partner and have renewed their sponsorship for another three years.
How many events do you participate in on any given year?
My New Year’s resolution for 2016 was to do a race a month. My goal, other than exercising, was to see how other Race Directors/races communicated with their participants, what kind of medals, shirts or other swag was given, how their packet pickup worked, ease of parking or other areas that events struggle with, etc. It’s been a great experience. My resolution for 2017, along with continuing the running, I will volunteer at a race each month.
Favorite thing about imATHLETE?
Definitely, Randy, our customer success manager!
What do enjoy most about being an event organizer?
Being part of so many people coming together as a team to put on an awesome event that 26,000+ runners participate in. Our race is unique since we run in the United States (Detroit) and Canada (Windsor). We have great partners with both Detroit and Windsor, Homeland Security and the border agencies to make this event one-of-a-kind.
Your biggest fear on event day? Your greatest joy?
Fear: Serious injury or death to a participant or volunteer.
Joy: Watching the back of the packers and the last runner cross the finish line.
If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when organizing your first event, what would it be and why?
You can’t please everyone so don’t try.
Have you ever done a themed event? If yes, what theme? If not, would you?
No, we haven’t but I think a Pup Crawl or something involving dogs would be fun.
Thanks so much Barbara!