Ann Vidro, Race Director of the Grand Rapids Triathlon and Michigan Titanium Triathlon, considers the finish line of each race to be the most rewarding part of her job.
“We have so many amazing stories,” Vidro said. “We have a lot of paratriathletes, we have incredible weight loss stories, cancer survivors. We bring in over 300 newbies every year to the Grand Rapids Triathlon. People who thought they could never do an event like a triathlon — to see them at the finish line, it’s just so inspiring.”
Vidro is one of nearly 75 race directors who attended last weekend’s USA Triathlon Race Director Summit, held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The three-day event is an opportunity for multisport race directors from across the country to share ideas and best practices while gaining continuing education units (CEUs) to advance their professional development.
Planned and executed by the volunteer-run USA Triathlon Race Director Committee, the Summit was more collaborative and discussion-based than in years past. Conversations were led and facilitated by the race directors themselves, and focused on topics directly relevant to the on-the-ground work of event planning and execution.
Breakout sessions centered around growing participation, marketing and pricing races effectively, bringing more women and youth into the sport and appealing to all generations of triathletes. USA Triathlon reduced the price of the event compared to years past, enabling several race directors who had never experienced the event before to take part.
Attendees also had the option to stay in the dormitories at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, experiencing firsthand the lifestyle of an elite athlete complete with access to the world-class athletic facilities and dining hall.
Vidro and her husband Andy, who serves on the USA Triathlon Race Director Committee, are co-owners of the Tris4Health Race Management Company. They will host the USA Triathlon Clydesdale & Athena National Championships for the fourth time in a row as part of the Grand Rapids Triathlon in June, and this year will host the first Michigan High School Triathlon State Championships as part of the same event.
The two have attended Race Director Summit, formerly the USA Triathlon Race Director Symposium, since its inception. They consider it a unique chance to network with fellow race directors, especially those outside of their geographic region.
“The people we’ve met, the great friendships — it’s made all the difference in our events,” Vidro said. “We have race directors who we now have quarterly calls with, and we just share best practices. We’re in noncompetitive regions geographically, so we can be completely transparent financially, about our marketing, and we’ve even cross-promoted events and given entries back and forth. It’s amazing to see behind the scenes at another event.”
In addition to collaborating with fellow race directors, attendees also had the chance to meet and ask questions of USA Triathlon CEO Rocky Harris, the USA Triathlon Events Team and several other members of the National Office staff.
Harris gave race directors the scoop on USA Triathlon’s Strategic Plan, challenged them to participate in the industry-wide Time to Tri initiative to recruit new triathletes, and solicited feedback on how USA Triathlon staff can better support race directors nationwide.
“It’s just so valuable, the networking here,” Vidro said. “And we get to meet the staff of USA Triathlon face-to-face rather than over the phone or email, which makes all the difference.”
For more information about the USA Triathlon Race Director Summit and to find additional resources for race directors, visit usatriathlon.org/racedirectors.