The summary or meat of the article:
At Run Calgary, we love innovating to meet and exceed the expectation of today’s runner. It’s no longer enough to impress participants simply with an abundance of bananas and a shiny medal. Runners now want more!
The expectation of today’s runner is different today than it was even five years ago. Participants want to be delighted and surprised. Of course you need to start by hitting all the necessities such as a well-organized event, a certified and sanctioned course and sufficient volunteers and supplies, but that alone is not enough.
We are in the business of putting on road races but the expectation is now that it’s a production. Entertainment used to be a bonus; now it is absolutely required. Exceptional medals and t-shirts are the bare minimum. Runners now want extra medals, more swag and unique selling features.
In addition, we focus on surprising and delighting participants with an experience they will never forget. From the moment they sign up until after they finish the race, they will be engaged, inspired and stimulated with a journey we take with them as race organizers. Being a race director means being dynamic, adaptive, listening to your audience and delivering on their expectations. Despite the challenges, it’s still the best job in the world
I do not necessarily disagree but the MEC races in Calgary seem to be a huge success. They are adding more races every year and now expanding into trial races. A timing chip, aid stations and a reasonable fee is attracting significant numbers of runners.
The problem I see is that the cost to "entertain" continues to raise but the market is such that they really cannot increase race fees any more. I would not be surprised to see "big" fancy races, MEC races and the small charity races eventually vanish.
For me, after this year there might be a race or three I will do NOT run by MEC but I do see a time when I am doing nothing but the MEC events.
Edit: The Calgary Marathon is providing a lovely finisher medal for all the races. They commissioned a well known Canadian Artist and it is quite a nice design. BUT ... it is exactly the same medal for every distance other than the number of kilometers one ran. There is a small and petty part of my me that is glad I am not running the marathon for the "reward" is basically the same regardless of distance. So I do feel for Race Directors. Even more so for Calgary. The 50, 42.2, 21.1 and 10 K all were to cross over the 12th Street SE bridge. For as long as I can remember, that bridge has formed at least a part of the route. They closed it down to vehicles last year and were to completely tear it down next year. But an engineer found it was unsafe and so it is now closed. The next closest bridge is 2 kilometers away so it is not going to be an easy task to find a new route for 4 distances and aid stations and ...