On the top of the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon website is a countdown clock. We added this a few years ago for the benefit of our participants. It serves as a constant reminder to the runners, my staff and any other interested parties that race day is coming. My staff hates that clock. I assume many of the runners do as well. The clock is a taskmaster for all of us involved with the event, whether as participants or organizers. All of us share the inevitability of race day and the challenge of balancing priorities to arrive there fully prepared.
Distance runners face the challenge of fitting a rigorous training regimen into an often hectic work and family schedule. Sometimes this requires sacrifices like getting up extra early or using your lunch hour to get in a few miles on a treadmill. The great thing about committing to a race is that it sets an unmerciful deadline. The date of the event is not going to change no matter what drama ensues in our individual lives. This reality forces us as runners to do whatever is necessary to get in the requisite mileage, cross training, and other preparations necessary to get from the start line to the finish line on that day.
Similarly, organizers have a limited window of time in which they must address a million planning details to make sure the event goes off smoothly. Ordering supplies and equipment, coordinating vendors, filling critical leadership roles, and recruiting hundreds of volunteers are all on the “to-do” list in the months leading up to race day. The inevitability of race day can add stress to the organizers’ lives as well, forcing them to squeeze numerous planning meetings into a 8-hour day, stay up late working on site plans and floor plans, and miss family functions on a regular basis.
I’m not trying to suggest that we’re all like movie characters desperately trying to defuse bombs with countdown timers. It’s a much slower burning fuse, typically with a 6-12 month planning cycle. But it is a fuse with an inevitable conclusion, nonetheless. A situation such as this creates a certain subtle, sustained adrenaline rush. Maybe that rush is part of why runners like signing up for events and I like being a race director…that or we’re all just big fans of porta-potties, I guess.