Race Directors of the Month: Jonathan and Taite Pauley

Since its founding, Renegade Racing, has grown from three events annually to 40-plus.
min read

At Renegade Racing, family is everything. Not only is it a family-owned business—led by husband and wife team, Jonathan and Taite Pauley—but the family mentality extends to every part of the race experience.

From the non-profit organizations they partner with to their extended “weekend race family” that includes office staff and production crew, the Pauleys work hard to deliver quality events where everyone feels welcome.

Since its founding, Renegade Racing, based in Southern California, has grown from three events annually to 40-plus. Jonathan credits much of this success to the caring atmosphere they’ve worked hard to create.

“Our races are like our home, and we welcome our participants into the events and hope they feel as if we’re an extended part of their families, too.” he says. “In this highly partisan world we live in, there’s one thing we can all agree on: ‘The Finish Line is Our Happy Place.’”

We recently spoke with the Pauleys to learn more about what sets their events apart.

Tell us more about Renegade Racing! What inspired you to start organizing events?

JP: I’ve been racing running events and triathlons since about 1986. I was a private trainer and coach for about 20 years until I decided to go back to school and get my master’s degree in Sports and Fitness Management from the University of San Francisco. I needed internship hours to complete the course, and I chose to work for a local race management company. After the internship, I finished my degree, and it just made sense to take the plunge and start my own company. I’ve been able to combine my passion for endurance sports with my education and experience to truly do what I love.

TP: I have been involved in event planning since I was a young child, helping in my mom’s catering business. I grew up producing events, and my early career path led me to produce many different kinds of events—from conferences and trade shows, to international trade missions and lobbying and press tours. When I met Jonathan, he already owned Renegade Racing and began hiring me to help with client work and special events. It was a natural fit from day one. Eleven years later, it’s truly a family business as I work here full-time on marketing, communications and client relations.

How would you describe a Renegade race to someone who’s never done one before?

JP: Fun, competitive and high-production value, without losing the grassroots feel.

TP: We produce events for the whole family and for all ages and fitness levels.

I heard you’re working on something special for one of your events, the Tustin Hangar Half Marathon, which takes runners through the historical, 17-story-high structure.

JP: We are working on pulling together six to eight video segments where we introduce veterans to Hangar Half Marathon participants, and they talk about their shared experiences the first time they saw the hangars. It’s still a work in progress.

How is it working together as a team?

JP: I am a Marine Corps veteran, so I am very familiar with the team concept. Good teamwork begins with leadership, clear directions and a communal effort to get the job done. I lead by example, so I am 100 percent ready to jump into any task that needs to get done. We have a great executive staff and crew, and there’s no way we could produce the quality events that we do without their commitment to meeting Renegade’s high standards.

TP: Growing up in a family business, it seems natural to work with Jonathan. We make a great team, and we each have our own talents and skills that we bring to the business. We value the other’s opinion and have clearly defined roles within the company. Our personalities also allow us to work closely together without stepping on each other’s toes too much. And, of course, sometimes it’s nice to have our own office with a door to shut when we need space.

What tools or strategies have helped you expand your business?

JP: We’ve really adopted technology as it has become available. Chip-timing, On-Site check-in, participant communications tools and the ability to connect with other runners, triathletes and bike tour participants through e-mails, social media and ACTIVE.com advertising tools have all helped us grow from three events annually to over 40.

What’s the biggest challenge you face?

JP: Our biggest challenge is to continue to connect with participants. In the ever-changing landscape of social media and the internet, our messaging and events need to be relevant and get the attention of our potential participants. We continue to work with our charity partners, past participants and use ACTIVE.com tools to highlight the events, training tools, fundraising and other activities that surround the events.

TP: ACTIVE continues to be a driving force in our marketing plan. The tools and customer support available through their programs contribute immensely to our ongoing success.

What top tip would you give to someone who wants to increase their participation numbers in the new year?

JP: Telling your story to the social media audience is great, but there’s no substitute for actual personal connections. Participants have a lot of race and charity choices, and those race directors who go the extra mile to personally connect to the participants, teams and groups will be the ones they remember the most.

TP: Be consistent in your service and produce events that people know will be fun, safe and well-managed. Encourage people to be active and to bring their friends and family with them on their health and fitness journey.

What are you most excited for in 2020?

JP: I am really excited to continue making connections with our participants, communities and non-profit organizations. Everyone has a story to tell, and it’s awesome when someone shares their life with you and how your race helped changed it.

TP: I continue to love seeing the events we produce, from the actual setup and building an event from the ground up, to the excitement and anticipation of race morning and seeing the accomplishment of the finishers. I always have a special place in my heart for the last finisher. You know that person has true grit and determination.

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February 17, 2020
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