See what could be missing in your confirmation emails, learn about the new HTML event set-up flow, meet the famous Team Dolphin, read about the results of our event director resources survey, and more.
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May is for moms. We salute all those superwomen out there who are busy raising families (and beating us in most races!). We don’t know how they manage it all and as much as we’d like to help, there are some things in life that you just can’t automate with our software. For the things you can automate, like your event management, read below to get info on how to do it as well as your mom would.

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Race Director Blog
What are you missing in your confirmation emails?

Figuring out what to say in your event emails, particularly in your confirmation emails, can make you feel like a mad scientist trying to invent the perfect formula. It’s a no-brainer to include basic information like the race date and expo details. But what else should you add to the mix?

Keep in mind that a confirmation email is something that gets HUGE open rates and is much more likely to be read “cover to cover” than your marketing emails. This is an email participants are tapping their feet waiting for. In other words, a confirmation email is a felicitous opportunity to get help for your event in a variety of ways—from revenue to volunteers to exposure. Here are seven ideas on messages you can include in your confirmation emails…Read the full article

This article was posted on our blog on May 8th. If you want to know as soon as an article is posted, subscribe to our blog and you’ll get an email alert. Click here to subscribe

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Tips and Tricks

Tips & Tricks
HTML Event Set-Up Flow

The next time you set up an event, you’ll notice that the user interface looks and acts a bit differently. You’ll be guided step by step through the process with a friendly set-up wizard. Your existing events will also appear in the new interface…if you need to edit them, look to the right of the screen. That’s where the navigation will now live.

NOTE: This functionality will be phased in to our customers over the next few weeks.

This new format ensures you won’t miss anything in the set-up process (that you may have overlooked before) and you get the most out of the tools in ACTIVE Works that help you market and manage your race (that may have been buried and you didn’t know existed!). You’ll even be able to ask your participants questions based on answers they’ve given to prior questions, giving you better insight into who your customers are and what they need. Plus, the system will run faster because it’s now on an HTML platform.

You don’t have to lift a finger—this has automatically been added to ACTIVE Works and will be accessible when you log in to set up a new event.

Get step-by-step instructions in the Knowledge Base.

To ensure you’re getting the most out of ACTIVE Works, register here for live product training (it’s free!).

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Bob & Lenore
Scot Harris

Event Director of the Month
Bob & Lenore Dolphin, Yakima River Canyon Marathon

If you’re a part of the running community, chances are you’ve heard about Bob and Lenore Dolphin (aka Team Dolphin). Not only are these two 83-year-olds the race directors of the beautiful Yakima River Canyon Marathon, but they form a pretty strong runner/volunteer team. Bob has traveled all over the country to participate in marathons and Lenore has volunteered at most events (she famously gave finish line hugs to participants). In 2012, Bob completed his 500th marathon at his very own Yakima River Canyon Marathon and people came from all over the world to run with him and support him reaching his goal.

We love working with Team Dolphin and asked them a few questions about their secrets to success:

How did you first get involved in organizing a marathon?

Lenore: We’ve been married for almost 19 years and during that time I started going to races with Bob and volunteering as he ran. He had set a goal to run 500 marathons and we traveled all around the country and got to know a lot of people in the running community. Back in 2000, we were invited to a meeting about hosting a marathon in the beautiful Yakima River Canyon by members of the local Hard Core Runners Club and someone who owned property in the Canyon. Because Bob was such an experienced runner and I was a seasoned volunteer we were asked to be race directors, and the rest is history.

How did you make the transition from being a volunteer to being a race director?

Lenore: The first thing I did was contact people at races we’d been to that had treated the runners really well. We got ideas from them on what to do and what not to do. People rallied around us and we got support from all over the place—from our web master in Lacey, Washington to a sports management company in Vancouver, BC. The owner of the sports management company suggested we attend the Portland Marathon’s Event Director College, which was great advice. We learned a lot and met some great people there. We attended that for about five years and also attended workshops at the Boston Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon.

There are three things we use as guidelines for our marathon, which we learned from three different people:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Smile a lot. So many mini crises happen and you never know when they’ll hit, so just smile. (This one really helped me get through the first year!)
  3. Be nice to the volunteers. We hold a pep rally for volunteers on the Monday night prior to the race to hand out the list of assignments and race details. We give away prizes from local businesses and train our volunteers to be friendly and know the important race info.

The first year of the marathon was in 2001—how did it go?

Lenore: The first year went really well and I think it’s because we took 14 months to plan it. It was covered in the paper and people came out of the woodworks to help. We’ve had a wonderful race committee from day one and very loyal volunteers. We had about 450 runners come out in 2001 and our peak year was 2012 when 625 people registered.

We were scared going into it but it was a success and we haven’t really changed much since then. We want to keep it simple—our marathon is a race for runners and walkers.

How do you attract participants to the Yakima River Canyon Marathon?

Bob: Just by participating in so many races, we have a big group of friends in the running industry, which is very important to us. A lot of our participants have done the marathon all 13 years.

We’re also tied into two ’50 States’ groups and are #32 of the Marathon Maniacs membership and co-directors of the 100 Marathon Club North America, so we get a lot of runners from those clubs each year. Lenore and I are known in the industry and our marathon has a reputation for being a race for runners, so we attract people from all over the country as well as Canada, Europe, Australia, Germany, Norway etc.
The marathon has been featured in the book “From Fairbanks to Boston 50 Great U.S. Marathons,” and we were pleasantly surprised to see that we were highlighted in the “Top 100 U.S. Marathons” map for people who want to run a marathon in every state.”

What are the best ideas you’ve incorporated into your race?

Lenore: We’ve gotten great ideas from other races and also come up with a few on our own that help us make it a great experience for runners:

  • We keep our registration fees and meal tickets at a nominal cost so people can afford the race. We rely mostly on donations of goods, prizes, and people’s time. We don’t have a big sponsor. We just want to break even

  • I bring home and wash all clothing left at the race. We include a note in our post-race email to participants that they can email us about missing items and we’ll mail them out. We put whatever is left over in boxes at packet pick-up the following year for anyone to grab.

  • Having guest speakers at the race is a big deal and our participants love it. We’ve had Joe Henderson, Dick Beardsley, Rick Nealis, Bart Yasso, John “The Penguin” Bingham, and other great people. Next year we’re really excited because Kathrine Switzer will be our guest speaker—she’s a really neat lady.

  • We host a pasta pre-race meal whose proceeds benefit the YMCA summer camp scholarship fund. And the other really popular event is our baked potato awards dinner after the race. We hand out certificates with baby feet imprinted on them to our first-time finishers and provide Yakima River Canyon Marathon-labeled wine with some of the awards. We donate all the leftover food…nothing goes to waste.

  • I used to give out hugs to everyone at the finish line, but haven’t been able to do that lately!

Bob: The other thing I think our runners really appreciate is that we don’t put any advertising on our t-shirts. We do that on purpose because we want people to wear them. Plus, our race date in late March or early April takes advantage of moderate spring weather. And our awards are high quality and the runners are proud of them.

When did you first start using ACTIVE’s race software?

Lenore: We met ACTIVE at the first Portland Marathon Event Director College in 2000, so we’ve been using your system since the beginning. We want to stick with people who have been with us from the start. Plus, Bob and I are just one step above computer illiterate, so I love having such great support. Whenever I need help, I just call my personal representative and they handle it for me!

What keeps you motivated?

Lenore: It’s a lot of work but we really enjoy it. We joke that at 83 years of age, we are the world’s oldest marathon directors.

Bob: This is our hobby, our diversion, our adventure that we love. Being race directors has opened up a whole new world for us. I’ve run or walked 13 Yakima River Canyon Marathons and hope to complete many more.

Learn about the Yakima River Canyon Marathon

Read another great article about Team Dolphin

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Take our survey

What’s new
Survey Results: Tell us about the race director
resources you need

Last month we asked you to weigh in on what resources we could provide to help you be better, stronger, and faster…here’s the input we got:

How-to guides 60.0%
Webinar presentations by subject matter experts 53.3%
Email Newsletter 46.7%
Video/Recorded presentations 40.0%
Workshops 33.3%

This tells us we’re on the right track because ACTIVE provides many of these free resources already (which you may not be aware of!). We’ll work on refining and offering more resources, but in the meantime, here are several suggestions for getting more of what you need:

  • Webinars (and video/recorded presentations, which we figure are essentially the same thing) were listed as the #2 and #4 needed resource, respectively. We received several requests for ongoing access to the recorded presentations and content, which is an easy one. All of our webinars are archived on our website so you can watch them at any time: View Webinars.
  • It’s not surprising to see workshops on that list because getting some face time can make all the difference. Keep an eye out for announcements about upcoming workshops from our partners, such as:
    • Portland Marathon Event Directors’ College, October 2013
    • 2014 Running USA Conference in San Diego (plan ahead!)
    • Another option is ACTIVE Network’s Industry Forum: Mapping the Course of Endurance, a presentation geared for industry-leading race directors to address the trends impacting large events. If you’re interested in joining us, contact us for the current schedule of sessions across the US in the coming months.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

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Jamie Wells

Team Member Spotlight:
Jamie Wells, Technical Sales Engineer

There are three main parts to my job in technical sales: I support our sales team by giving product demonstrations to our prospects and customers; I meet regularly with our product development groups to provide feedback from our customers so we can focus on building features that will help customers most; and I train our sales teams on our products.

Basically, I make sure our team sells what we can deliver, and we deliver what our customers need. In a typical day, I’ll meet with the board of a Little League baseball association about their scheduling needs, a marathon about new website features, and a hockey association about offering payment plans to their families.


At the moment, my favorite two pastimes are surfing and golfing. Both are humbling and rewarding at same time. Growing up, I was more of a basketball and lacrosse guy, and while I love to play both, they can be a bit too taxing to continue to play competitively into your thirties. I also served a year-long term as president of our “Active Masters” Toastmasters Club. I started out as a horrifically bad public speaker and now I could be described only as marginally bad, so I consider that a victory.

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