Monday, March 26, 2007

Bethel Spring Series - Being a promoter

So I looked up "swollen neck glands" on Google and ended up on this page.

First of the 48 causes of swollen neck glands - bubonic plague.

I can't get away from that diagnosis.

But my throat feels a bit different this time - a sharp pain. A so-familiar pain. A pain I haven't felt in many years. Strep throat pain. If it gets any worse today I'll go to a doctor tomorrow.

I'm using this groggy sick feeling as an excuse why I spaced last night and didn't post the Cat 5 results. Actually I did post the results. I just posted the prior race's Cat 5 results, since I used that prior race's page as a template for the new one. And I didn't update the overall either.

Anyway my email got flooded with friendly and not as friendly notes pointing this out. So I did it right tonight. I also somehow missed a bunch of places from the 5's for the overall, so put them in as well.

I could have used the whole "well I just promoted the race" excuse but that doesn't fly after however long I've been doing it. It would be easy to point out that I got up at some ungodly hour, spent the day marching around with a broom or a blower, raced, packed up, got home at 7 or so, and then worked on the results and stuff.

But it's not really accurate. I know how to pace myself during the day. All the help we get from the volunteer marshals, volunteer sweepers, and people helping set up or break down helps me with this energy rationing.

At the end of the day (or end of the evening if you will), if I don't feel up to updating the site, I leave it blank and let it rest for a bit. It's like racing and training. I don't push too hard else something will push back. Maybe it's why I'm still racing now and everyone I started with isn't. It's probably why I am still promoting the Series something-teen years after I started. I almost walked away from it for a number of years, I was so tired of running the races.

Obviously I didn't. I felt an obligation to continue though and there are a number of reasons for this obligation.

1. I don't need to make money off the Series, so I don't. This is good for the race. One rule we have is that people who run the race should not make money off of it. Keeps the reason for running the race clear - not for money but for the racers. The whole reason the original promoters started the Series was to have an inexpensive race series that paid out money (and "real" money at that) to the racers. My unsubstantiated feeling is that if I and whoever I work with (it's varied over the years) leave the race, a new promoter might pocket a lot of the money we typically intend for the racers. This fear for the racers motivates me to keep doing the race.

2. There's definitely sweat equity in this thing. Before we could afford two big wheeled leaf blowers, we had one. And before that, we had two portable leaf blowers. And before that, one portable. And in the very beginning, we had brooms. The further you go back, the more work I had to do. And when we had brooms, guess what?

I swept. A lot. I mean a lot.

When I went to see Stomp, they opened with, would you believe, a sequence involving brooms. I turned to whoever I was with and said "Hey, it's just like Bethel!". Except they used inefficient strokes. I know because after a few hundred hours of sweeping the course at Bethel, I learned the most efficient way to move sand off a road.

The way they did it, I couldn't believe they made it to the end of their bit without blisters and cramping arms.

3. I like the course. Personally, I couldn't ask for a better course with better conditions. Meaning for me as a racer. First, whoever paved the road knew what they were doing and took pride in it. Virtually no cracks in something like 15 or 20 years. No potholes. In Connecticut with its frost heave and ice and snow and all that? Incredible.

The profile works for me too. A power hill that is too short for climbers. Wind that saps the strength out of all but the hardiest of time trialers. And a lot of room for slicing and dicing in the field. It's fun, I like it, and I can always think about trying to win or place here. Usually anyway.

4. Another thing is it feels good to give stuff to people. You should see their eyes light up when we give them primes or prizes or trophies. Some of that stuff pays for gas or whatnot, but trophies and leaders jerseys last forever. I know I treasure the ones I've won, and it puts an element of reality to the racing for those that don't race or watch. Instead of coming home with a bunch of sweaty laundry, you have a trophy to show for your efforts. How cool is that?

Of course cash is good too. Last week a guy and his teammate walked over to pick up a prime. The guy won the prime but hadn't paid very much attention to the amount. Figure early season race, Cat 3-4's, $10 would be normal, $20 would be nice, anything more would be a bonus. It was a two place prime so figure each would get watered down a bit.

When we told him it was $50 he couldn't believe it. He seemed like he was about to give the money back because he held his hand out so long after we put the money in it. He studied the money suspiciously, asked us if we were sure, and looked at the money again. We reassured him we weren't mistaken. He cracked a big grin, withdrew his hand, thanked us for a great race, and walked away with his prize money.

5. Finally there's the whole thing about setting out to do something and accomplishing it. As an underachieving student that barely made it out of college, it really amounts to something when I help run a six week series of races that draws racers from all over the Northeast. Inevitably the racers are nice and appreciative, even if at some points they don't act that way. This counts a lot because if the racers didn't appreciate it, the race would be over so quick it'd make your head spin. Remember, this race is for the racer.

On the last day, when we're cleaning up for the last time, when we do the last lap around the course to pick up stray bottles and GU wrappers, I'm flooded with a feeling of intense accomplishment and satisfaction.

Must be like women having babies or something.

The baby makes you forget about all the pain of pregnancy.