Interview with the Race Director – Moonlight Miles Half Marathon & 10k

Today’s interview is with Bethany Hall, race director for the Moonlight Miles Half Marathon & 10k, coming up on Saturday, July 12, 2014 in Grand Junction, CO! Why am I writing about this race? Drum roll please…I will be completing, in some capacity, the 10k as my first race in the post-back surgery era! I have no idea whether I will be running, walking, or run/walking, but I’ll be out there if it kills me. Natalie and I will also be at the expo to talk to participants about Ramblen

1. Tell me a little bit about your running/walking history (when you started, why you started, etc).

I started walking half marathons in October 2010. I was challenged to enter the Nike Women’s Marathon and thought I’d never get selected, but I did. The next month, I had to do RnR Las Vegas to prove to myself that it wasn’t a fluke, and then Phoenix to prove that that wasn’t a fluke, and here we are, 35 half marathons and 20 states later! I love to travel, and this always gives me an excuse. I have spent a lot of time outside of the country (traveling with the U.S. Army) and traveling for myself – my friends call me a gypsy since I’m never in one place for very long. This gives me a great way to see my own country while also helping stave off “the itch” I get to move!

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Bethany in front of the Grand Canyon!

2. Why did you decide to start Starunner Enterprises (her race directing company, which also hosts the Dreamcatcher Half Marathon in March)?

I started it because I am a back of the pack runner and it was frustrating to me that I would spend the money and time to do these half marathons and have the aid stations close up while I was out there and the finish lines packed up by the time I finished, even if I finished within the cutoff time. Usually, I’m lucky to get a warm bottle of water. I understand cut off times, but I hate when races don’t adhere to them and pack up early. I want everyone to experience the exhilaration of  starting and finishing something  and getting the full experience, and what better way to do that than with my own race?

3. Well, that partially answers my next question! As a runner who sometimes finishes near the back of the pack, I’ve experienced the frustration of no food/beer, no medal, etc. I know you have experienced that as well. How has that influenced you as a race director?

I saw a problem and I decided to fix it. I was so determined to make sure that we had enough medals for everyone that we learned the hard way with ordering too many medals for our first race – we had 289 registrants and 289 medals, but only 234 finishers. I’d rather have extras for everyone than too few! If I have a cap of 300 people, I’m going to plan for 300 finishers.  I offered to send finishers a replacement if they donated their medal to an organization like Medals 4 Mettle, since those groups only accept “earned” medals, meaning we could not donate our extras.

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All the people who finish at the front of the pack don’t get to take jumping pictures, so there!

4. What did you learn from your first event as a race director, the Dreamcatcher Half Marathon?

This time I will make sure my course markings are very visible! We had some issues with that. As a back of the packer, I’m always looking down, but people who run are always looking up! We didn’t anticipate that, and most of our markings were on the ground. So we’ve had to change and have markings at different height levels. I know I’ll never make everyone happy, but I figure if I put my heart and soul in to making the best race I know how, that’s all I can do. We have an additional challenge since Moonlight Miles is at night, so that will make it more difficult as well.

5. Explain a little bit about the concept behind Moonlight Miles. What makes it different from other events?

I decided to have Moonlight Miles because I did one night race (the Mapleton Half Marathon) and I loved it. You never know how much farther you have to go since it is dark out! You see all these discombobulated bodies running up and down the road and everyone is just in party mode. Moonlight Miles will be a little more toned down than Dreamcatcher, but we wanted to do it at night with the full moon on a Saturday. We think it will be absolutely beautiful with the moon coming up over the Colorado River, two nesting bald eagles in the trees nearby, and the sounds of nature. I want it to be less pressure, so I think of this as an event rather than a race. Run a 10k, walk a half, bring your friends, and just enjoy the summer company and have a burger!

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6. What is your favorite race that you have run? Did you take anything from that race and bring it into your own events?

The Missoula Marathon and Half Marathon is the race that I’ve enjoyed the most recently, and I think it’s because when I came to the finish line, there was still a crowd. There were tons of Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs, and I felt like part of a bigger group than just someone by myself. That’s one of the things I strived to do with Dreamcatcher: make it feel like everyone’s accomplishment was equally important, and I think we did that.

7. How do you expect Starunner Enterprises to grow in the future?

Our ultimate goal is to have two of our own events – Dreamcatcher and Moonlight Miles. What I’d like to see and what I’m working to do is work with non-profits to direct their events, specifically 5ks. Here in Colorado, we have so many charity 5ks and none of them stand out. I’d like to make great events for those local organizations and have them really stand out and earn tons of money for their causes.

8. Your courses don’t close until the last runner finishes. Why is that important to you?

I’ve been that last runner. I want everyone to know that when they cross that finish line, it’s going to be a party. It’s 13.1 miles no matter how long it takes you.

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Bethany (left) out on the course in December!

9. Anything else we should know?

Come out for the wienie roast! Just come out and play with your friends in the dark. It’s going to be a blast!

So, that’s the deal with the Moonlight Miles Half Marathon and 10k! Any questions? I’ll be there, will you?!?

8 thoughts on “Interview with the Race Director – Moonlight Miles Half Marathon & 10k

  1. If I lived there, I would definitely do this race! It sounds like a lot of fun and Bethany seems like a very sweet person who puts ALL runners needs first, not just those who finish in the front of the pack. Other race directors could stand to learn from her, someone completing a race is something to be celebrated, not having a course close on them or aid stations pack up!

    Best wishes to you in the event too, whether you run, walk, or run/walk it… it takes a lot of courage to get out there after all you have been through with your back. *hugs*

    1. trex

      Thanks, Amy! I don’t know what the race will look like for me yet but at least I know that there will be a party at the finish line whenever I’m done :)

  2. I love this. I agree, race directors sometimes forget that 99 per cent of their runners pay 99 per cent or more of their race fees, and that every runner should have the full race experience, not just the ones at the front of the pack. I’m really glad there’s at least one race director who is actively looking out for those of us at the back of the pack! Whatever the reason one is walking or running/ walking or running, if you’ve done your best it’s an accomplishment to be celebrated.

    Oh, and all the best for your 10K! We’ll be cheering you on :)

    1. trex

      Thanks, Grace! What is so interesting to me is that many runners at the front of the pack feel too bad or exhausted at the end of their race to even really enjoy all that the finish line has to offer. Perhaps the reason that so many race directors forget about the people at the back of the pack is because many of them were or are talented runners themselves, and they just don’t know what it is like. It’s hard to say!

  3. She seems awesome–so full of energy, and she obviously loves what she does. I think that it is so important to have a passion for what you do in any realm, but especially when you are in charge of large events and lead masses of people. You have to want to pay attention to the details out of love, not just because you are trained to do so.
    I absolutely respect and applaud the fact that the course stays open until the last runner/walker comes through. As I know that you have experience with being the last walker/runner and my mom does as well, and now having walked a half marathon myself, I can’t tell you how crushing it is to feel like everything has closed up. That was something that I liked about the GA marathon–because the half and full started together, even if you were the last half to cross the line, there was still so much support at the end. It really makes a difference!

    1. trex

      It does make a HUGE difference. I know that Bethany has done a lot of events where there is no full marathon and the line has closed up. Part of me understands why most of the volunteers are gone at the end of a long full, but I absolutely hate when the course opens the roads early or shuts down the finish line ahead of the posted cutoff time.

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