Last updated: 06-Nov-18
They are the men and women who make the magic happen. The race is their baby and like any parent they love and cherish it. But what does it take to make that Ultra race a reality? Dave Urwin talks us through his day as race director of the Ham & Lye 50k/100k.
By Dave Urwin
My name is Dave Urwin. I live in the heart of Somerset. I am 33 years old and I am a race director for Albion Running. I am also the author of the book ‘Everything Will Work Out in the Long Run’. You can get a signed copy from our website.
My running started at school. I was half-decent at the 1,500 metres, until I raced against some kids who were actually good at it. Then I got into drinking, smoking and evil ways and my running skills suffered. I picked it up again in 2010, running my first 10k race and absolutely loving it. I have now run a number of ultras, the best of which being the 80-mile Jurassic Coast The Oner in 2013. I have semi-respectable (for a recreational runner) Personal Bests in every commonly raced distance.
Having done a few races myself, my best friend, Natanya, and I, decided to put on a few races and see what happened. Lots of people signed up for one called the Ham & Lyme 50k/100k, which follows the Liberty Trail from Ham Hill to Lyme Regis and back again for the 100. So, we thought we’d better try and make it half-decent. From feedback received so far it seems we did okay, so now I am the race director. We wanted to showcase the fact that our local area has some stunning locations, and the Ham & Lyme race definitely does that. 2016 entries are open now.
As race director, you are basically responsible for organising the race, and all that this entails. I am now working towards making this my living. You charge an entry fee, you make sure you spend enough of the money so runners are looked after, and feel like they’ve had a good experience, then you get to keep what’s left, as long as the taxman doesn’t want it. Race directing is hard work if you want to do a good job of it, but it’s enjoyable, and it makes you feel very accomplished when people enjoy your race.
On race day, your phone never stops ringing. You’ve probably slept about 10-15 hours in the past week. If anyone isn’t happy with anything, it’s you they’ll blame. On the average day, you have a list of many, many people that need to be contacted, things that need to be picked up, ideas that need to be had, admin stuff that needs doing… A race director’s work is never done.
However, as terrible as all of that sounds, it is pretty exciting and fun, and if the race goes well you will be buzzing as much as the people who ran it! There’s much to enjoy about being a race director: you get to be creative, you see people enjoying themselves because of something you’ve organised, your work is varied and interesting, you get to go to some great places…. much to enjoy.
The absolutely best thing about the job is that it’s not boring. The worst thing is that when you get bad feedback, it’s hard not to take it to heart. Mind you, that might say more about me personally than the role of a race director.
For more, check out our website.