Crossing the line
For those who don’t know, I am a pretty big advocate for running in the community. I am an assistant coach at a very successful high school here in Ocala, I am the founder of a web site that promotes local fitness events, I am the race director of this year’s Reindeer Run, I am one of the few people trying to rekindle the Ocala Runners Club, and I am someone who FREELY volunteers my time to help grow numerous events in the area. In addition to being vary involved in the local running scene, I have done various projects outside of Ocala in hope of making the sport better. Below is a list of things I’ve done in the past few years to help promote my sport.
- Multiple Time FHSAA State Track and Field Meet Announcer
- NCAA Championship Announcer (East Preliminary Rounds)
- 2x ASUN Conference Championship Track and Field Announcer
- Freelancer to multiple running web sites
- Past Store Manager for one of America’s top running stores
- USATF Level 1 Coach
- the list goes on……………………..
As much as it pains me to say it, I am NOT a supporter of Ocala’s newest running store.
A few months ago, the store manager asked me to come work at his store. After explaining to him that I had my own hopes of opening a store, and my employment with him would be a conflict of interest, he has made it his mission to destroy my reputation in the community. It is to the point that I get sick to my stomach when mentions his name or his business around me.
My side of things
Employment– Even if I didn’t wish to open my own store, I still would have had to turn down the offer. I am college educated and have experience managing a store that won multiple top 50 store awards while I was employed there. The offer I was given was $10 and hour with the opportunity to be assistant manager after 1-2 years of training. I know my worth. I currently have a web site that gets 1000’s of hits a week, I coach 45+ athletes, and I have relationships with many of the local businesses that are involved in the local running community. By accepting a $10 and hour position, my efforts in the community would only stand to make someone else rich.
4 on the 4th – It has been expressed to me that I am the reason that the new running store was not allowed to participate in the race. 1) I am not the race director, and do not have the capacity to make those decisions. I merely helped promote the race, as it is one that I have run multiple times and I wanted to help it grow, 2) I did promote the person who came down and sold shoes. At the time, THERE WAS NO RUNNING STORE IN OCALA, and the person who came down was a good friend of mine. He paid money to sponsor the race, and has sponsored multiple events that the race timing company has put on. 3) From my understanding, the new store could have participated in the race, but did not want to come to the table with sponsorship money. 4) The manager of the store had been promoting the watermelon run in Gainesville, and had posted that his store would be hosting its own 4th of July race in 2015. He was not interested in the 4 on the 4th until he found out that someone would be there selling shoes.
Making Money – In the last week I have had multiple people ask me about why my web site charges a processing fee for people who register for races. The running store’s manager has been trying to leverage the processing fee as a way of me taking advantage of the running community. 1) I created a web site that offers an alternative to some of the pricier registration web sites. The most popular site charges $1.25 more per registration than what I currently charge. 2) Maintaining multiple web sites is not cheap. I need nearly 1,000 registrants to merely break even with the site. 3) I am a local company that promotes local events. Any money that my company will eventually make, will be reinvested into the community.
Speaking of Local- This is more of a pet peeve than anything else. Just because there is a store here, doesn’t make it local. The managers and investors are from and live out of town. For a store to be local one would imagine that the majority of the payroll would be to local employees. He cries that people need to support their local store, but he is not a local supporter. I know a bunch of races that were given a list of demands for him to become a sponsor. The #1 being their store being the “exclusive” running store sponsor. In the races I have been involved in, $$$ were never things offered as sponsorship. Instead the package he offers consists of a lot of stuff other entities do for free. Including race bibs, and bags.
Harassment – I am consistently the victim of harassment by ambassadors of this store. I have been repeatedly put down by my action of leaving of the Jingle Bell Run from my web sites calendar. The thing that most of the harassers didn’t realize was that we were specifically told not to include their events. 1 Day we were asked to take their stuff off our calendar, the very next day I was personally singled out as not being a true supporter of the running community. The comments made caused an uproar that I had to spend hours defending.
The Newest Campaign – The newest round of attacks comes at the expense of my event calendar and registration system. As mentioned above, I have had multiple people tell me that the manager of the store is bad mouthing the fact that my site charges an event processing fee. Little does he realize, I am charged a fee per person. I not only have to pay a processing fee myself, I have to pay for the program that registers the runners, the programs that are used to create the graphics, and the hosting of the site. Why all the trouble? I see it as an investment in the community’s future. Someday the web site might make money. But today it freely promotes a great number of events. Although I can’t add a value, I can say that there are a lot of organizations that are getting free promotion off the back of $1,000’s of dollars in student loan debt. My degree, resume, and web site viewership has to ad some sort of value to my marketing efforts………..Right?
For non-believers – If you don’t believe the store is singling out me or my business, then check out their Facebook page. In the past few days I have seen more posts about the “EXCLUSIVE” event calendar then I have about the state of the art fit process, their weekly group run, or their sponsored Jingle Bell Event. In turn look at my page or my business page. I am promoting events. I have always promoted events.
If you are reading this please do me a favor; Stop trying to hurt me and my passion for the sport. Concentrate on making the community a better place for all of us. Train your employees on proper fitting techniques. Support local races regardless of exclusivity. Create new business for yourself. You are obviously passionate about the sport, inspire others to be the same way. Leave me out of it as I am not currently your competitor, and you only stand to be more successful with my success. More participants = More potential customers.
Local Running Enthusiast
Small Business Owner
High School XC Coach