Oakland Running Festival

On March 28, the city of Oakland will be hosting it's first marathon in 25 years. The inaugural Oakland Running Festival includes a full and half-marathon, a four-person relay, a 5k and a Kids Fun Run. I was fortunate enough to be in contact with Gene Brtalik, the Event Director and asked if I could interview him and share some insight into this exciting event:

There hasn't been a marathon in Oakland for 25 years. How important was it to bring a Marathon back to the city of Oakland?
(GB) Oakland was the largest major city without a marathon and since 2001, has been without a major road race of any distance. We felt that Oakland is a thriving market and it is the right time to bring this type of event to the city. Oakland has a little bit of a negative reputation and when runners see all the great sights and what Oakland has to offer, they will leave with a great impression of the city. Our events in Baltimore and Frederick, MD have generated millions of dollars in revenue for the city and local charities, and we feel this event will do the same for Oakland.

There are a total of 5 events happening on race weekend, a full and half-marathon, a four-person relay, a Twilight 5k, and a Kids Fun Run. Was getting the entire running community involved through multiple distances an initial thought or something that developed in the planning process?
(GB) This is the formula we use for our events in Baltimore and Frederick and it has been a highly successful model. We want as many runners to participate as possible and not everyone is ready to take on a marathon or a half-marathon. The additions of the team relay and 5k make the event much more appealing to those weekend runners who want to be apart of the event but not run major distances. The Kids Fun Run is a way for the children of the runners to experience the same thrills as their parents do on race day and also promote healthy and physical activity for all children.

Your company, Corrigan Sports Enterprises, is responsible for organizing the Baltimore Running Festival and over time, that race has grown significantly to over 22,000 participants in 2009 Are you using a similar blueprint to make The Oakland Running Festival that successful or with a different location are there different factors that come in to play?
(GB) We are using the exact same blueprint that has made the Baltimore Running Festival successful. What makes our event so successful in Baltimore is the organization of the race and the celebration village at the end of the race . Our goal is to make sure they have an enjoyable time and hopefully tell two or three more friends about the event and they'll want to run the following year. We do a runner survey after the Baltimore race each year and we have had 97% of the participants say they would recommend it to a friend. If we can duplicate the success of Baltimore, registration numbers will grow rapidly.

Runners absolutely love the perks of race weekend. Typically shirts are given to each participant and as of late technical shirts have become the trend. For the full marathon, participants will receive a quarter zip long sleeve jacket, has that (or are you anticipating) played a factor into the number of people registering?
(GB) The technical shirts obviously help, but what I think is driving registration to this point is not only our reputation as a good race company, but also the runners in Oakland are looking forward to running a big race in their hometown for the first time in nearly a decade. The city is looking forward to being in the spotlight and showing off what a great city it is to runners across the Bay Area and the United States. Technical apparel for each race is a great perk.

With a month to go before race weekend, does the excitement grow as the day gets closer for the event director? And at what point do you get to take a breath and look back at what you have brought to the city?
(GB) The excitement grows each day. With San Francisco and San Jose each having successful races, runners are always going to compare the Inaugural Oakland event with those established races. As we get closer and closer to race day, hundreds of questions run through my head — Will people like the event? Will they tell a friend? Will there be fan support along the course? Do we have enough post race activities for the runners? Have we done a good job of spreading the word? It's funny everyone I meet keeps praising me for the job I am doing, but I keep wondering have I done everything I could to make this event a success. I'm confident with the experience CSE has, we will do a great job and runners will have a great experience. We will finally get to take a deep breath and get some sleep on March 30... Then starts preparations for next year.

What do you hope all the participants take away from the Oakland Running Festival?
(GB) I hope all the runners finish the event, and not only love the course and the atmosphere, but also tell all their friends, co-workers, relatives about how there is a new must-run race in the Bay Area.

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I'd like to thank Gene for taking the time to answer some questions and allowing us to take a peak behind the curtain. I will be participating in the Oakland Running Festival in three weeks and would like you to join me. Gene has donated a few complimentary race entries to this blog and Pure Fit Radio.

There are several easy ways for you to enter a raffle drawing:

1. Simply leave a comment on this blog post.
2. Visit Pure Fit Radio's Facebook page for contest links.
3. Visit my Facebook page for contest links.

There will be links throughout the week posted daily and the drawing will be held at Thursday, March 4th at 8 p.m. (PST). All you have to do is leave a comment on any of the three above and you are entered to win a complimentary entry into the Full or Half Marathon. Good Luck!

1 comment:

Anders R said...

Great interview. I am excited to see a race in Oakland especially being put on by well respected organization like Corrigan (Baltimore's running festival has grown to be huge!). Thanks for the interview with the race director. I lived near mile 4 and will be excited to run this course. I always wondered why Oakland didn't have any races, so this is filling a void and will hopefully be a big success! Please count me in for the contest for complimentary entry.