Name of race organisation: Contest Sports & Media.
Tell us a bit about your organisation. How old is it and how did it come about?
We are 3 years old. I set the company up after helping out the Race Director of the English Half Marathon – after I ran that race as my first half marathon in 2010. I completely fell in love with the good feeling of what a mass participation can achieve. I’m very humbled that I wake up every morning feeling motivated to put on high quality events for our 25,000 plus participants each year.
What races do you organise?
I am the Race Director for English Half Marathon, Rock n Roll Liverpool, Rock n Roll Dublin and our new obstacle race – Task Force Live.
I also support the wider Rock n Roll Marathon Series and this year alone I’ve worked on races in San Diego, Brooklyn, Washington DC, Madrid, Lisbon with Las Vegas still to come.
What do you personally get out of putting on races?
I am really engaged in the story – the runners story. Every runner from first to last place has invested themselves into getting on that start line and finishing the race. Whether that be the training, the fundraising or travel. If you get your head around that – you are driven to put on a great event for your participants. Because anything less is not good enough. We don’t always get it right but we never plan to short change or let anyone down. I am lucky that we’ve developed a team who believe in that outlook.
Are you yourself a runner?
I try. I’m not fast and I am sure it’s not a pretty sight. But I love the time away from the office, just plodding along. I did a 250+ plus run streak this year and my personal running highlight has been completing the 52 miles of the Tour of Merseyside.
What’s the most annoying question you get asked before a race?
“Will you be running the race yourself?” I’ve refined this answer over the years. “Yes, I run the race without having to run”
Tell us a funny story, you know you want to.
I reckon I could write a book of funny stories – that’s what you get when you spend time around runners and our staff. But, for those people who follow me on social media, they’d probably say something about me travelling around the world constantly (I’ll fly about 60 times in 2015) with a pint of Guinness in hand (I don’t buy into the myth that Guinness tastes differently everywhere in the world).
Have you ever ran your own race? (If you could only run one which one would it be?)
Because of constantly being asked if I run my own races – I thought I’d best do that. So I ran the RnR Liverpool 5k this year. I was very hungover and remember stopping half way because a car got on to the route. So I flipped back into Race Director mode. It was a great experience and was only possible due to the great team we have. My ultimate would be to run English Half Marathon again – it was where this whole journey started for me.
What do you think medals add to your races?
Medals are a big part of what we are about. It really annoys me when people call them a gimmick. Well maybe they are if you are not into medals – so just go and enjoy the high quality race that we put on and don’t take a medal. Most of our entry spikes are linked to medal announcements and the social media buzz around them is unreal. For us, investing in a good medal is smart business. For a runner, investing in our races with their cash and sweat will result in a great medal to commemorate in their race day experience.
Why should people come and run your races?
We don’t take ourselves too seriously, we focus on every runner – from the start and the back. We are totally focused on your race day experience and it is our obligation to work hard to get it right year after year.
What’s your favourite medal from your own races?
I loved the English Half medal from this year – The Golden Gates. Such an ornate finish line and medal.
What’s your favourite medal ever? (You can be bias)
I don’t think it’s a very big or blingy medal and you wouldn’t get us producing a medal like it but my favourite is the one that I earned from the Tour of Merseyside. I have it hanging on my kitchen door and it represents something that I truly felt I earned, as well as friendships formed and lots of pain.
Obviously a man of good taste because the English Half and the Tour of Merseyside are two of our favourite medals too (as well as the Rock n Roll 5k which we really love). Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions Rob. You can find Rob in the Pub. You can find Contest Sports & Media on Facebook and Twitter but English Half Marathon, Rock n Roll Liverpool, Rock n Roll Dublin and TaskForce Live all have their own websites and social media. You only need to take a quite look at our medal archive to see what amazing medals you can get from these races.