Mermaid Series - Welcoming and Encouraging Women's Endurance Events with Carlo Facchino
We’re excited to welcome Carlo Facchino of the Mermaid Series. The Mermaid Series features women’s running, duathlon, and triathlon events. And now spans three states - California, Washington, and my home state of Colorado.
The Mermaid series is known for their welcoming atmosphere, and providing a safe zone for many beginners to complete their first event.
During the interview you’ll hear about Carlo’s passion for helping beginner athletes in running and those dipping their toes into a triathlon, the secret sauce - and what’s kept Mermaid thriving for over 16 years, his most memorable and inspirational stories from the course, the expansion of the Mermaid brand into other states, and how Mermaid’s response to the pandemic.
This recording took place a short time after Carlo’s mom passed away, and he was gracious enough to still do the recording - and even shared some fond memories of his mom’s involvement with their latest virtual challenge.
Carlo was also generous enough to supply us entries for a Mermaid Giveaway! The winner will be able to select between a virtual run, duathlon, triathlon, or challenge.
Enter the Giveaway!
Subscribe to our podcast - to make sure that you don’t miss our giveaways. If we get enough entries - we’ll make this a regular thing. So tell your friends as well!
During this discussion, we talk about:
- 3:06 - How Carlo got started putting on events
- 5:43 - How Carlo got into the sport of triathlons and running
- 9:39 - Early mistakes in the Mermaid Series
- 12:13 - What makes Mermaid so successful
- 16:05 - Why Carlo switched to creating female only events
- 20:11 - Impactful stories from the raced course
- 25:34 - How has Mermaid Series grown over the years
- 31:31 - The impact of virtual events, and how Mermaid has adapted to them
- 34:56 - The engagement of the Mermaid social media groups
- 36:39 - Carlo talks about his Mother and her recent involvement with the virtual challenge
- 40:28 - the Logistics of distributing medals and t-shirts
- 44:21 - Upcoming events on the Mermaid Series calendar
- 49:42 - How Carlo leverages technology for the virtual events
- 54:41 - What being a "Mermaid" means to Carlo
Links Talked About During this Show
Podcast TranscriptionThe following transcript is provided for your convenience. It was created through a program, and may not be entirely accurate to our conversation.
Carlo Facchino: [00:00:00]
A mermaid is a mythical character that people can identify with. It gives them that freedom to not stereotypically look at what an athlete is. Not stereotypically look at who a runner should be or who a triathlete should be. It gives them this sort of I'm who I am.
Kevin Chang: [00:00:24]
Hello, and welcome to the RaceMob podcast. This is episode number 11. I'm Kevin entrepreneur technology and fitness nerd, and the founder of RaceMob. I'm joined by master motivator, founder. You have to legit fitness co-chair of the Taji 100. RRC a certified coach USA track and field certified official.
The incomparable Bertrand Newson. We are so excited to welcome Carlos Makino of the mermaid series onto the podcast. The mermaid series features women's running duathlon, and triathlon events, and now spans three States, California, Washington, and my home state of Colorado. The mermaid series is known for their welcoming atmosphere and providing a safe zone for many beginners to complete their first event.
During the interview, you'll hear about Carlo's passion for helping beginner athletes in running, and those dipping their toes into a triathlon. The secret sauce and what's keeping mermaid thriving for over 16 years, his most memorable and inspirational stories from the course, the expansion of the mermaid brand into other States.
And how mermaids responded to the pandemic. This recording took place a short time after carlos' mom passed away. And he was gracious enough to still do the recording and even shared some fond memories of his mom's involvement and their latest virtual challenge. Ever the giver, Carla was also generous enough to supply us entries for a mermaid giveaway.
The winner will be able to select between a virtual run, do Athlon triathlon or challenge. So go https://racemob.com/mermaid to get all of the details and subscribe to our podcasts, to make sure that you don't miss any of our giveaways. If we get enough entries, we're going to make this a regular thing. So go make sure that you're entered and tell all of your friends to make sure that they're entered as well.
This episode is brought to you by race, mob, and inclusive community for fitness enthusiasts, whether you're brand new to fitness or a veteran athletes, we all need support, motivation and accountability. We're launching a brand new community site where you'll be able to interact with our guests. Coach B and myself, and we're going to be launching a brand new training program that's led by coach B.
So go to dot com. Sign up for your free account today, and you'll be notified when these projects go live. And without further ado, here's our conversation with Carlo.
We're so excited to welcome today. Carlo from the mermaid series. Welcome to the show Carlo.
Carlo Facchino: [00:02:56]
Thank you. Thanks guys, for having me on the show. I'm very excited to get to share with everybody out there about the mermaid. And so thanks for having me.
Bertrand Newson: [00:03:05]
Pleasure is all ours.
Kevin Chang: [00:03:06]
Yeah. Pleasure is all ours. Mermaid series has been a staple of the community, especially here in North Cal for a number of years.
And it's definitely one of the favorite events for a number of our members of two legit members. So talk to us a little bit about the start of the mermaid series, how you got into the whole industry and, and how you got into creating the mermaid series.
Carlo Facchino: [00:03:28]
Got into putting on events in 2000 and in 2003.
Beginning of 2004 was when kind of started putting on events. It was with, by the beach productions. And so we were doing coed races, myself and a buddy over in Santa Cruz and kind of putting on coed triathlons, coed duathlons, and then kind of had this idea of putting on an all women's triathlon. And so, you know, back in 2004, scanning the whole Bay area, looking for places to do it.
And we found Cory lakes in Fremont. And so that was where we put on the first mermaid triathlon. And hence the name mermaid really made sense with it, swimming, biking, and running. So got into doing that in 2004, uh, along with the coed races. And then kind of really saw that like just the environment at the, at the mermaid was such a different look and feel than the coed races and.
Everything about it was kind of what really hit home to me is to what I loved about triathlon. I mean, it was people out there on a bike that they've found in their grudge and dusted off and came out to participate. It was just such an amazing feel. And everybody who crossed the finish line was just like ecstatic about their accomplishment.
And that was really everything that I did. I loved about doing triathlon. And so. In 2005, we did a second mermaid triathlon. So we had two, we had one in Fremont and one in Santa Cruz. And then in 2006, pretty much dropped all the coed races and just started doing the mermaid events. And we wanted to really wrap in more than just triathletes running was a really good way of kind of.
Broadening the demographic and bringing in a whole, so new group of athletes who would then ideally say, Whoa, this was a really fun run. What else do you offer? Oh, I've always wanted to do a triathlon. And so the run was really a way of bringing in a new demographic to hopefully do a triathlon. And so that's where mermaid turned from just one event to a whole series.
And then, um, kind of kept growing from there.
Kevin Chang: [00:05:43]
I love how mermaid introduces people into the sport. And it sounds like you saw this opportunity for triathlons, for people to get introduced into triathlons. And then you thought that even earlier, why don't we introduce people into running events?
Can you talk to us a little bit about your initiation? How did you get into the sport of running or triathlons or, um, your early days?
Carlo Facchino: [00:06:07]
Yeah, so kind of a fun story. I think. In college, I was on the rowing team. Uh, so I rowed for four years at UC Davis. And then after college I got into coaching. And so I was coaching the freshmen team at UC Davis and to the guys who I was coaching.
Coming up towards the end of the season. And they were like, Hey coach, we want to, you know, we want to challenge you to this triathlon. And I was like, what? Swimming? I'm not really sure about that. And of course, and being the coach, I was like, Oh yeah, sure. Um, what event. And so it turned out being the escape from Alcatraz.
And so both of these, yeah, rough introduction to the world of triathlon, having to swim across the Bay. And so, you know, they challenged me and we went out after the season and had just a really fun time. And that was. Kind of what sparked it for me was, was just like, wow, this is a really fun, or I'm now no longer rowing myself.
And so what do I do to stay healthy? What do I do to, to keep fit? And the triathlon was, you know, like, Whoa, this is really fun. And so that's kind of how I got into competing myself and then fast forward. Quite a few years and was coaching got into working as you do after college. And then in 2003, I had quit my job and decided that I would start organizing events.
So that's kind of where, where I got into putting on events and starting the mermaid. And you
Kevin Chang: [00:07:40]
were, you were coaching triathlons or triathletes?
Carlo Facchino: [00:07:43]
No, I was coaching rowing. Oh, okay. Yeah. So I coached for, I coached for. Two years at UC Davis. And then I got into coaching at Santa Clara university and coach there for a total of, I think, eight years.
Kevin Chang: [00:08:00]
Amazing. And correct me if I'm wrong, you spent some time overseas. Is that right?
Carlo Facchino: [00:08:05]
Yeah. So just when, kind of the.com bust happened, I had quit my job. Went over to New Zealand train for a triathlon change for Ironman, New Zealand over there. Wow. And then had a blast showed up on the start line. Forgot my wetsuit.
It really fun things. And then when I came back from that event kind of was trying to figure out what do I want to do with my life. And that's where I got into coaching at Santa Clara. And at the same time started putting on a triathlons myself.
Bertrand Newson: [00:08:41]
And just look at the duration Carlo. I mean, you've been a RD race director for going on two decades and a smaller startup entity.
And look at all these companies that have just come and go. What do you think has made your events so special on the ability to sustain relevancy in an incredibly competitive field?
Carlo Facchino: [00:09:01]
Good question. And I think a lot of that has to do with who I am and being stubborn. I prefer to just beat my head against a wall for as long as possible.
Like once I get into something and once I really enjoy something, I'm going to stick with it. And, you know, I joke a little bit about beating my head against a wall, but. You know, there's a lot of hurdles over the years, a lot of learning. I mean, you don't go to college to be a race director. And so you learn so much with every single event that you do that.
And you know, there's mistakes that happen along the way. And if you don't learn from them, then that's where you really get into trouble.
Kevin Chang: [00:09:39]
What were maybe some of those early mistakes?
Carlo Facchino: [00:09:41]
It was probably the biggest early mistake. I know it wasn't. It was a mistake, but it wasn't a hundred percent my fault.
I'm in Santa Cruz. We've been doing our mermaid triathlon over at Aptos at Seacliff state beach. And we'd been doing it for, I think three or four years when we first started doing it. The County of Santa Cruz, the person who is working in the permit office. So we didn't need an encroachment permit. Well, three years later, she retired and somebody new came in and that new person did say that we needed a permit.
Although I didn't find out about that until the week before the event, the way that I found out about that, it was because California was having his budget crisis. And so the governor had said no state employees could work overtime. So the CHP called me and they said, you know, Hey, we can't work your event because we're a state employee and we can't work overtime.
And so I said, okay, well, what I do. So I called the County sheriff to see they're not employed by the state. The CHP is. And so I called the County sheriff and I said, Hey, is there any way you guys could be at our intersections on the course? And the County sheriff said, well, I don't think that's possible.
And, but at the same time you checked in with the County to see if it was possible. And the County said, well, wait a second. We don't even know about this event. And so now it was like double trouble. You know, the CHP officers said they couldn't work. The County sheriff said that they couldn't work. And now the county's like, we don't even know about your event now.
Like you can't even have the event. And so we had the event as far as at duathlon, cause everything that was inside of the park was okay. It was once we crossed outside of the park on the bike course. So we had a run swim event, essentially. We weren't going to be able to do the bike course anyways, because the CHP couldn't work.
But in the long short of it, you know, those kinds of hurdles. That can really creep up and have a major impact on your event is something that now, even if you know that you're not supposed to, that you don't need a permit or you don't need to check with this group, we still do. You know, now it's like, no matter what, we're going to make sure that we cross it.
Yeah. Every single possible bridge. So even though we don't need to talk to this group, we're going to talk to them and say, Hey, just so you know, we're going on this weekend. Do you need us to do anything? And then they'll say no, but at least everybody knows. So, you know, a hurdle like that was just has monumental effect on your event.
And, you know, you learn through those mistakes.
Kevin Chang: [00:12:13]
I mean, I love just learning about the, behind the scenes, the amount of effort, the amount of time that gets put into each and every event, you know, I think as a runner, as a, um, athlete, we just are so appreciative and so thankful for all the time and effort that you put into, into those events.
Going back to what Bertrand said and mentioned. What do you think makes mermaids so successful year after year? What keeps you coming back and wanting to, to do this? Cause it's, it's not easy work.
Carlo Facchino: [00:12:44]
You know, I think what sort of sets us apart and allows us to keep going year after year is the environment that that's created at our events.
And so, you know, I feel so strongly about the everyday athlete and people who are just starting out and how inspiring it is. To me to see somebody who is just getting into fitness, just starting their fitness journey to see that is, is impressive to me. And when they, when somebody comes up to me and says, Hey, this was my very first 5k.
I never thought this was possible. You know, thank you for putting on this. Yeah. I mean, that's, that's exactly right. What keeps me coming back year after year, because. A lot of times you're out there, you know, moving a porta potty from this corner to the other corner because it got dropped off in the wrong place.
And three in the morning, you're literally like pushing a porta potty down the street and you were thinking, Whoa, what is my life come to? Right? Like I'm pushing a porta potty down the street at three in the morning. Well, like, I didn't go to college for this, but then sure enough, somebody after the race says, you know, something amazing about how it was their very first experience and they loved it and they feel so empowered.
And then, you know, it's like, okay, I'm in the right place. And I, I love doing this. Um, but yeah, there's there's times where you're questioning your own sanity.
Bertrand Newson: [00:14:11]
You know, I've seen that magic that happens at your events firsthand. And we have several team members where the mermaid series has been part of their first either duathlon or triathlon.
And you know, we're not talking about high school athletes, right out of college athletes. We're talking about people who have lived life, uh, mothers, grandmothers who had a team member. Rosie morale is who maybe in her mid sixties finished, uh, her first triathlon. And we've talked about that iconic finished there in the capital area on the beach and that soft sand.
But I mean, you could played the, you know, Rocky music. You could have play chariots of fire. All it had been very fitting for just the way the, the comradery, the fellowship, the sense of pride and accomplishment. And with that, it just takes on such a deeper core meaning and the level of enthusiasm. Just fantastic.
So hats off to you, Carlo, you guys are doing something fantastic. And again, your love of
has blossomed into a, you know, double decade experience that has touched so many lives.
Carlo Facchino: [00:15:20]
Thanks. I mean, that means a lot because for me, it's a lot about what I feel I feel triathlon or exercising has given me in my life and the healthy habits that it's because, you know, there's, there's a, a lot of things out there and people can fall into good habits, bad habits.
And when you can find a very healthy, active habit that, you know, you get done with your run, you, you might feel beat up, you take that shower and then you feel like a thousand dollars, you know, or you get in a pool and you, you have a swim and you get out and you just kind of buzzing with energy. Those things mean so much to me, putting on events just gives me that opportunity to share that love to, to, you know, a huge group of people.
Kevin Chang: [00:16:05]
Carlos, what do you think it is about the female events? you talked a little earlier about how you originally were putting on coed events. And so what was the initial impetus for putting on a female led event. And what do you think was the biggest difference between a female only event and the coed event that made you want to continue putting on female events?
Carlo Facchino: [00:16:27]
Originally got an idea for a women's triathlon. Because when I was in New Zealand training, I had seen a women's like super sprint triathlon, go on. I mean, a quarter mile swim, like a three mile bike and then a half mile run. I mean, it was really. Like a short sprint triathlon, but they had 800 plus women out doing it and it was super impressive to see really great.
And so when I come back from my trip to New Zealand and, uh, you know, I didn't have a job and was trying to figure out what to do in life and got into organizing events. That sorta was really the idea behind the women's event. And then just that atmosphere, like, like you mentioned, like what's the difference?
Well, I think a coed event is often times really centered around the competitive aspect and how fast you go, how expensive of a bike you have. And that's not to say that, like, we don't have a lot of participants who are very competitive and who are out there. It's a race. We provide that race for people who want to be competitive, but we also provide the atmosphere and the environment for people to just be out there.
having fun. My first triathlon, it was on somebody else's bike that I borrowed and, you know, and so people will talk to me and they'll be like, Hey, you know, do I need a bike? And I'll be like, just find any bike. Like it doesn't matter. Right. Have fun. Get out there. Do it. If you love it and enjoy it. Well then yeah, it makes sense to go buy a bike.
It goes, make sense to then, you know, get into your training and be a little more dedicated, but I always recommend just come out, have fun, do it in whatever amount of training you have done. And we do some clinics that lead up to the triathlon. And so for me, when, you know, one of the best advice. I think it's good advice.
One of the best advice that I give is I tell people no matter what your training has been and what you've done in your training, it's going to be enough to get you to the finish line. Look at your training, have faith in your training. Be assured that your training is going to get you to the finish line.
And that is such a. Mind-shift for a lot of first time athletes because they never feel like they're ready. You know, they never feel like they've done all their workouts and you can get so sort of wrapped up in the, what you haven't done, that you never realized that what you have done is going to be enough.
I try to, we really pushed that, uh, to get people, to prepare hair and, and to be ready. And that sort of environment really carries over because they show up. On the start line. And now they're looking at each other people that they don't know, they're looking, you know, they're in this swim crawl and everybody's nervous and they can yeah.
Look at each other and sort of give a sigh of relief and be like, yeah, Hey, you've done is enough. You know, like you're going to get to this, you're going to get to the finish line. And then they say, you know, that comradery, that sort of. Understanding that we're all in the same place. We're all nervous about what we're about to do.
And I think I know in a women's only event or a predominantly for you email event, you're going to have that comradery a lot more than in a coed race. Go to a lot of coed races. I don't see that much chit chat in the start line or anything like that. You know, it's just kind of looking at each other and everybody's sort of sizing everybody up versus like, Oh, Hey, you're, you're in this with me.
Like, Hey, high five let's let's go. And so I think that really sets it apart in a predominantly women's event, when you have that camaraderie and you have people reaching out to complete strangers and sort of. Reassuring each other that like, Hey, we're both nervous. We're both not sure about this, but we're both in the right place.
Kevin Chang: [00:20:11]
That's awesome. I think, and you mentioned this a little bit, but what also sets mermaid apart is that community that you've built, you know, I posted a question on your Facebook community, Facebook group yesterday, letting people know that we were going to have this podcast episode and asking what questions they might have for you and got an immediate response, which was great.
And a lot of interaction there. And so. Want to give a quick shout out to Marianne, Lori Lee, Rebecca, Vanessa Sabine, Susan for submitting questions and being generally curious about the mermaid series and what you guys offer. So this next question comes from them. It's share with us an impactful story or an impactful athlete that you've met during one of these events.
Carlo Facchino: [00:20:54]
I go back to this story quite a bit. And it was 2016, our, our November race, which is our mermaid run, San Francisco. We go over the golden gate bridge and finish right there on Crissy field. So pretty incredible venue. One of what I think the most beautiful full of our venues, especially with getting to go over the bridge and we've got so many permits for that event.
And so many sort of like time requirements, we have to shut down the start line pretty much right after the start to get everybody out onto the course to get through the road closures and things like that about, gosh, it was probably about half an hour after we closed the start line. Somebody came up and.
She was just in tears 2016. This was right after the election and the presidential election. And she was wraught just upset about the election, upset about life in general, upset about everything. And she was crying. She got in there late. She, everything just sort of backed up for her into this moment of showing up and us taking down the start line.
It was just kind of like the tipping point. And so I said, Hey, you know, let's take a deep breath, like tell me what's going on. And she just went into this whole, like five minute thing about everything. Right. And I was like, Oh, wow. Well, this is a lot as was like, Hey, let's take a couple breaths. I'm going to count down from 10.
We're going to get you onto the course. For the first mile, just stay on the sidewalk. And after that, I'm sure you'll catch up to the tail of the group from there. You'll be just like everybody else, but let's regroup for a second and let's send you off. And she came up to me afterwards and was like, Oh my gosh.
You know, so I was having a breakdown and you restored everything that was going wrong. Because you let me go. And she was so convinced that she was going to show up and be told, Hey, you can't go do your race. You can't do this. And so just by recognizing that, seeing how distraught she was, and then allowing her to take a moment to regroup, to breathe, to let her know that, Hey, you are in the right place.
You're okay. Let's have you get out and go have fun. Again, that's like everything to me when you can touch one person like that and have them get a chance to sort of regroup and refocus and restore their trust in humanity, so to speak. So that though that'd be a good story. If you want, I'll tell one more quick, quick story.
This is kind of a, more of a fun story at our triathlon. In, in Santa Cruz, we are at Aptos. This was before we moved it to Capitola and there's this, we swim around the cement ship and app toss. So if you're familiar with that, it's a pretty hard swam. And we had everybody out of the water. So the swim, swim crew is like, Hey, everybody's out of the water.
Now I'm talking to the transition crew and they're like, we still haven't seen these last two, last two people from the swim come in. And so, you know, now we're, we're worried that the swim captain is everybody's out transitioned. Captain's like, we're still looking for two people. And so, you know, we're now we're kind of doing this search for everybody.
And I look in the parking lot and there's these two ladies like hanging out at their, at their car
and I'm like,
man, I wonder if that's them. And so I go over it and I was like, Hey, how are you guys? They're like,
Oh, we're having
so much fun. We're having a blast. And I was like, Oh, so you're in the race.
And they're like, yeah, we're in the race. I was like, Oh, what are you doing over here? We're transitioning, we're getting our bike off the car where we're putting, I'm like, Oh, okay, well, you know, there's a whole transition zone over there for you guys. And they're like, Oh no, we thought it'd be better in our car.
So do you know how to put on the wheel? And you know, so now I'm putting their wheels on their bike and, you know, I was having so much fun with him and then, you know, she's like, Hey, what are these things? And I was like, Oh, you mean the gears. Yeah. Well, so you push this and you, you, you know, and so then I was teaching them how to use their bike.
And I mean, it was, you know, that's like priceless to me.
Kevin Chang: [00:25:04]
So you go from like this panic state, panic moment, somebody going in the water to like, right.
Carlo Facchino: [00:25:11]
And then I'm pinning on their bibs for them. All right. You guys are going to have so much fun. Go head out that way. That was like a super fun, fun scenario.
Bertrand Newson: [00:25:21]
Kevin Chang: [00:25:22]
Yeah. It's amazing.
Bertrand Newson: [00:25:23]
Did they finish?
They finished and then they come up to me. I mean, they're like, Oh, thank you for volunteering as well. Yeah, we'll go with that. Great story.
Kevin Chang: [00:25:34]
Love that. I love that. Talk to us a little bit about the growth of mermaid series over the years and how you've expanded and grown.
Carlo Facchino: [00:25:43]
we've, we've had quite a bit of growth. Um, it started in 2007 when we kind of moved out of the Bay area and down to San Diego, um, and started putting on a half marathon down in San Diego. And then we got into, we did some, all women biking events. We did a mermaid, a tour to mermaid, uh, for a couple years that was in San Francisco.
And then we've also gotten into trail running races. Uh, so we now do a trail run and really a big part of our expansion has been recently with our introduction of title nine, the, uh, women's retail clothing store and company. And so a title nine it's really increased our reach. We, we now do a run in Boulder and a run in Spokane.
And so that came about through our sponsorship with title nine. And so to move, you know, from. Within state to out-of-state, there's been a lot of learning how to expand a business, uh, that goes into other States has been big. And, but really that's also increased our reach. And so our reach is now gone into three States and then title nine also has a pretty big database.
And with our virtual runs, that's been a huge, huge help in getting the word out. And, you know, with virtual runs, people can be purchased painting anywhere. And so now our reach has spanned. Across the country. And it's been really interesting to see how these virtual events have just exploded. And these virtual events have really, you know, like broaden your demographic and your geographic reach.
It's been, it's been incredible in that sense. And that's been a huge help with title nine is our title sponsor sort of promoting that to their database.
Bertrand Newson: [00:27:20]
How has that expanded your admin team, the infrastructure, how many hats are you truly wearing and how many of you, you know, added as you've grown exponentially?
Carlo Facchino: [00:27:29]
Yeah, I mean, over the years we've added a couple of staff, but really we operate on a very, very tight, small crew. So Stephanie, who has worked with, uh, the mermaid series for the past three or four years with COVID she's, she's kind of had to take. Another position she's still involved, but in a much more reduced role.
And then Betsy who works with me as well. So really it was sort of Stephanie and I are doing most of the spearheading. And then now Betsey's come in and doing a lot. Uh, she, she's also full time working in education. You know, it's been something where we like to call it a small, but mighty crew. And really, it's interesting because a lot of people look at a race and they, they must think, Oh, you've got an HR department and you got a marketing department and you've got all of these things.
And really, you know, it's a very small crew. We've got some people who help us with graphics. Joanna. She does amazing graphics. I've got a buddy who also helps us with some of the marketing, but those are more like when I need help, this will get done versus people who work sort of day to day.
Kevin Chang: [00:28:39]
Are you enjoying the show, help us out by sharing the podcast?
Yeah, some cool prizes like headbands wristbands, training programs, shadows. Yeah. More especially if you're part of it, existing running group, online community, or have friends that you, you think we'll enjoy the show, get your personal, a referral link at https://racemob.com/referral.
Talk to us a little bit about the mermaid series response to the pandemic.
When did you learn first learn about it? Where were you? What has the response been over time? And talk to us a little bit about
Carlo Facchino: [00:29:11]
that. Yeah. So we had put on an event or our San Diego half marathon, February. So the second weekend in February, and we had literally just got done with that. And then you started here about COVID kind of that first week, second week of February, it started to make the news about what was going on over in China.
And so, you know, our suppliers, you know, people, some of our suppliers that we work with, we're talking about, you know, like what's going on. And so we're, we're learning about COVID in kind of that beginning, February, and everybody's sort of thinking, well, it's not here. It's sort of out of sight, out of mind.
And then towards the end of February, it starts, uh, kind of really picking up a lot, a lot of press, a lot of media. And then all of a sudden mid-March events are being shut down and there's sort of no warning. It seemed, it kind of went from events happening to all of a sudden, no events in March and people were thinking, Oh, well, maybe in April and then, you know, right away within a couple of days, it was events in April are being canceled.
And we had two events in may. So we had, uh, our, our run, our mermaid run East Bay and Fremont, and our mermaid runs Spokane that are both in may. And so by mid March, it was pretty clear that those events were not going to be happening. So made the call right away in late March to cancel those and turn them into a virtual event.
So we, we decided that instead of doing each one, a virtual, we would combine those two and do one sort of. Full mermaid community encompassing virtual run, which was June 20th. And so, yeah, right. Yeah. The way we kind of made the, put that, put that into place about the virtual events and started promoting that.
And you know, as more and more events started to get canceled, we saw. More and more of our community, more and more of the mermaid athletes signing up for that June 20th of virtual event. And then, you know, by the end of may, when people really started to see that in person events, weren't coming back, it was kind of this spike of registration for that virtual event, because people are realizing these virtual events are what we're going to be doing for our own racing.
This is now going to be the new standard, the new normal for, for athletes.
Kevin Chang: [00:31:31]
How do you think those virtual events have inspired people to start fitness or getting fit? And do you have any stories?
Carlo Facchino: [00:31:37]
When COBIT hit and things were starting to go virtual. I don't know if you'd heard of run across Tennessee, which iconic glass who is a guy who puts on some insanely difficult races.
The Barkley marathon is backyard ultras. So, you know, I saw that I signed up for his run across Tennessee and. All of a sudden I realized, Whoa, there's so much accountability when you're doing these virtual runs. There's there's, you know, I'm logging my miles. I'm getting out. I'm saying to myself, I have to get in this amount of mileage.
I, you know, Oh, I'm looking at my watch. I can't stop on 0.3. I can only stop on number and suddenly your whole mind, mind frame shifts. And you're looking at it. We were working out in a totally different way. One of the things that we in mermaid did really early on was this 24 hour relay that 24 hour relay really spawned from our ambassadors who had done a 5k relay and they were passing off.
From one ambassador to the next ambassador, to the next ambassador. And we did, I think like 13 hours, it was a really long, like almost a full day of wow. Passing off this Baton of a 5k relay. Then from there, we did this 24 hour relay where we invited the whole mermaid community. So we had half hour shifts.
And so people knew exactly when their shift was starting. When their shift was finishing. We did it. 8:00 AM, Saturday to 8:00 AM Sunday, this whole 24 hour relay. We had people from. Five different continents participate in the engagement that we got was incredible. I mean, somebody in North Carolina was getting to run with their friend in Hawaii and they're like, we haven't run.
We haven't run together in 20 years since college. And now we're getting to run together. Cause we were doing our shift at the same time and people were given, you know, like high fives on Facebook and just. The whole engagement. People said, gosh, this was almost like the real race. And that's where a lot of wheels started turning.
And now we've got quite a few other ideas for virtual challenges and we did our own not run across Tennessee, but run across California, going from Lake Tahoe to San Francisco. And so that's been a huge amount of engagement for us with our athletes. 100 days to do 200 miles. That's two miles a day is, is average.
And, you know, that's, that's a, a challenging goal for a lot of people. And, you know, that's a challenging goal for people to, to sort of like wrap their head around because they hear 200 and immediately, you know, people think, wow, that's way more miles. But when you break it up into those little steps, people start conceptualizing it and realizing that it's doable.
And so, you know, we've got over 2000 people participating in our rent across California. Great numbers, one person's on a relay team with her dad. Who's 92 years old. I mean, it's super impressive to see how this is. Change people's mindsets and gotten them to be active in a time when we're all sheltering in place.
And it would be so easy to forget about being active. This has really been inspiring to see how it's increased activity.
Bertrand Newson: [00:34:56]
How have you seen that translate into your mermaid social media groups as well? That level of engagement numbers increasing.
Carlo Facchino: [00:35:04]
Yeah. I mean, it's been incredible how much growth we've had in our mermaid athlete Facebook group, before COVID hit our focus was always on creating this engaging atmosphere at the race and sort of don't really think that there's.
The opportunity to create an engaging atmosphere online. And so, you know, once in person events can happen, well then yes, we started seeing, okay, how can we give somebody the same sort of feel the same sort of engagement. And that's really where the Facebook group came about. We had it before, but it's, you know, it was six or 700 members before COVID and now we're almost to 3000.
So it's something that has just exploded and the amount of engagement that's on there, people posting about, Hey, I just walked out the door for the first time and did my very first mile. And, and then all the people who are, uh, sort of encouraging them and commenting about that post and telling them that they're doing a great job and.
Everything that we loved about the in person in engagement and environment has now spread across the country. And, and, and that geographical reach is amazing. And you know, how many people are at the finish line when the last person comes across? I mean, you know, there's a good handful, but it's not thousands of people.
And so when somebody posts on Facebook and thousands of people see that they just went out and did their first mile. There's a thousand people who can all comment and tell them they're awesome. And, you know, give them a virtual high five. And, and that sort of engagement is so encouraging and just, you know, like really incredible to see.
Kevin Chang: [00:36:39]
lot of that inspiration, a lot of that stuff has also hit a little close to home for you. Right. Right. And I don't know if you mind sharing about recent developments and otherstuff, but, um, you know, you're dealing with some stuff behind the scenes and, and yet you're, you're keeping on taking and keeping ongoing.
Um, do you mind sharing a little bit of that story?
Carlo Facchino: [00:36:58]
It's amazing because when we have our mermaid athlete group and, and the community there, somebody will post something and somebody will share something and suddenly you see 10 other people say, Oh my gosh, that's exactly, you know, I I've, I feel that same sort of anxiety or I feel, you know, I've gone through something similar.
And, you know, it's always tough to talk about your own personal things. And I feel like it's only fair that, uh, you know, that I would share because I ask other people to share and, you know, it's, it's healing. It's, it's, it's something that is. Uh, beneficial when, when you do share. And you know, so for me, my mom, who was 83, she was participating in the run across California with six of her friends from her retirement community.
And she was the team leader of her group. She was, they all call her. They called her the team leader. I like to think of her as the instigator. We recruited them. And, you know, she was calling them every day to get their mileage. They weren't going to figure out the website. And so she was a teacher and, and, you know, she got out this giant white board and put it on her porch and she wrote down everybody's name.
And every day she would call them to get their mileage and she would update their miles and she would move. She had this. She cut out this rice Krispie treat a character hurt, right? Snap crackle. I'm not sure. Cut out this rice Krispie, treat character and put it onto the white board. And then, you know, every day she would move the rice Krispie, treat character a little bit closer to San Francisco.
And so she drew a little Lake Tahoe and then she drew San Francisco and, you know, Seeing somebody who is 83 and how excited she was about sharing this experience, sharing, being healthy with her friends. It meant, I mean, it meant a tremendous amount to me personally, to see her enjoying life and enjoying this opportunity to share with, with friends and, you know, that's, that's what.
I think sums up where we're at in COVID-19 and how we're trying to inspire people to be active and to be healthy. I mean, uh, maybe it's a little bit of the instigator where you're trying to really sorta be the instigator they encourage or people that go out and do something. And, you know, even though it's a little gimmick about like, Oh, a virtual run from Tahoe to San Francisco, It's really has a meaningful impact and it's hard.
You don't, you don't get a lot of opportunities to tell your parents that you're proud of them. And so, you know, obviously I can't tell my mom that now, but I was so proud of her for, for doing the run across California and sharing it with her friends. It's meant a lot to me and her team, uh, just finished last Friday.
So. About four or five days ago, her team finished and, uh, they don't want to stop. So they're gonna they're, they're going back to Tahoe. They're going back to Lake Tahoe. They're adding another 200 miles to them. Yeah.
Kevin Chang: [00:40:19]
And again, our, our deepest condolences on your mom, but what an incredible, what an amazing story.
So thank you so much for, for sharing that with us.
Carlo Facchino: [00:40:27]
Kevin Chang: [00:40:28]
Right before we started recording. You had also mentioned if we peel back the curtains a little bit, that some of those folks were helping you put metals together. And so tell us a little bit about the behind the curtains, especially because that Facebook group, they want to know when they're getting their t-shirts, when they're getting their metals, all of that stuff.
So give us some of the logistics. So what happens behind the scenes?
Carlo Facchino: [00:40:49]
Right. So in an in person event, you plan a date, a specific date, and then you open up registration. You have 10, 11 months for people to sign up with the new virtual environment. You know, we opened the run across California on June 26th, by July 18th.
We were almost 2000 people signed up well, but of course, Tee shirts and metals and all those take time to order and let alone on June 26, you don't know how many you need to purchase. So we had to wait, um, really until almost July 18th to say, we need this quantity because we just didn't know. I mean, it could have been 200 people who signed up.
It could have been 2000 and on June 26, we didn't know. So. We had to wait until registrations kept coming in and kept coming in and we saw the register trend. And then our biggest days of registration were when we opened July 18th, July 19th of July 20th. And you know, now suddenly we're, we're looking at like, okay, we need to increase the amount of t-shirts we need, we need to increase the amount of metals.
And so all those things, you know, that used to have 10 months to really plan your doing in less than a month. And so we just got the metals in the tee shirts are coming in today. And so now what has to happen is that they all have to get assembled, so to speak. So, um, I've literally got a huge box of, of metals and we do redo a metal and a necklace at all of our events.
And so. Today, my mom or a group of my mom's friends, we're all stuffing, uh, the, the metals and the necklaces. And it's a pretty cool metal. So it's got your
Kevin Chang: [00:42:33]
Carlo Facchino: [00:42:35]
Oh, wow. Yeah. I mean, there's so much that goes on behind the scenes. And then once we get the tee shirts, I gotta put the metals in there, then we gotta do the labels and then we got to do the envelopes and then we got to stuff them.
And then somebody's got to take them to the post office and, you know, the post office loves it. When you show up with, uh, 15 black and yellow packages. I now know which post office is in San Jose, have a sort of behind the scene drop off where you can drive around to the back and you can open up your truck and you can dump all your packages into a larger capacity bin.
So, you know, it's little things like that, that you never even thought of all have to happen. And then, you know, the post offices are backed up with COVID. So things that used to take one or two days to get to somebody might suddenly be delayed and all types of things, you know? So. It's a lot of different moving pieces that, gosh, I never realized when I was an athlete.
And, you know, I realize now because I work behind the scenes, but it's really mind blowing. When you think of all the different little touch points that have to happen, whether for an in person event or even a virtual event, you know, you, you don't think of it, but it's amazing amount of logistics. And so
Kevin Chang: [00:43:54]
maybe by the time this podcast airs, which is about two weeks from now, some of those will be in the mail.
And then some of you in that Facebook group will be, will be getting your tee-shirts and metals here. Yeah, pretty soon.
Carlo Facchino: [00:44:06]
I'm hoping that by the time it gets out there Friday and Saturday is when I think almost all of them will be going to the post office, maybe Monday and Tuesday of this coming week. But yeah, in a couple of weeks, everybody should have them by then.
Kevin Chang: [00:44:21]
Talk to us a little bit about some of the upcoming virtual events that you've got.
Carlo Facchino: [00:44:25]
Our next virtual event is going to be a virtual triathlon and duathlon. And so our capital a triathlon do got, has been canceled because of cost. And so we're moving into this virtual triathlon to ask one, I'm excited about it because you know, the runs, the virtual runs have been around.
We've been doing a virtual run with our events for several years. We have had a virtual triathlon with our capital event, but it's always been pretty small. So this is going to be the first time that I've really seen a large virtual only triathlon or do Aslan. I'm hoping that it really resonates with our community, that they want to try this.
I mean, it's a great opportunity for somebody to have a sort of a no pressure. Chance to do either a triathlon or a do ass lawn. So the duathlon run bike run, and we have a sprint duathlon and an Olympic duathlon. And then we also have a sprint triathlon and an Olympic triathlon. And I realized that COVID, you know, there's not a lot of places to be able to swim that might be open or might not be open.
And so that's why I'm hoping as a lot of momentum and a lot of people say, Hey, I want to try this. And we're giving them. 30 days to do the challenge, you can do it all in one day. And the order that you would typically see at an in person event. So that would be swimming, biking, running, or it would be run bike run, and you can do it in that, in that format all in one day.
Or you can break it up and you can say today, I'm gonna ride for free five miles and you know, I'm doing the Olympic. So that's 24.8 miles almost 25 miles. So you can say, I'm going to do five miles today. I'm going to do five miles this weekend and five miles next weekend, and five miles after that. And then that's your bike and you might run two miles tomorrow and two miles the next day.
So you can break it up, however you want to do it. And really it's. This opportunity for people who have never done a triathlon or never done a duathlon to get out there and experience it. And then, you know, ideally next year, when we're able to have the impact and event, they're going to say, gosh, I loved that sort of atmosphere.
I loved doing the swimming, biking, and running or biking and running. And then they're going to come out and participate in person. So it'll be interesting to see how, how that resonates. And then after that we've got our San Francisco run, which we're still, haven't quite made the call on that one. We're trying to give it as much chance as possible, but realistically that's, that's going to be virtual.
And so we'll do our virtual San Francisco run in November, and then we've got some other. Ideas that I'm kicking around for virtual challenges. And I really want our next one to be our next big virtual event. Um, that's not affiliated with a in person that I want a really strong charity involvement in this.
And so it's going to be something that's a little bit, yeah. Closer to maybe the holiday timeframe. And I'm going to try to really build in a very big community charity. Atmosphere. I've loved to try to get some companies to do some corporate matching donations. Mermaid is going to pony up some money for corporate matching.
So it would be something where participants can donate to a charity. And then, you know, a corporation can match 10% of that as an additional donation up to whatever limit they say. If they want to donate, say 10% of $50,000, then if. Participants pick that charity and they donate to that charity. Then there'll be like the corporation would match up to 10% of that 50,000 I'm working on.
It's going to be right around kind of the idea would be a sort of spawning Halloween to new year's. And sort of going through that holiday timeframe and it'll be as similar challenge, like the run across California, where it'll be a larger goal based mileage and also a fundraising sort of opportunity to, to be giving back.
Because as, as athletes, we love to give back, I think it's important that we give back and therefore, you know, I really want that next one to be centered around, uh, uh, charity.
Bertrand Newson: [00:48:41]
Carl, thank you for sharing. One question. Tracking timing in still races. Have you seen that change? Uh, I know there are a lot of them virtual racist, pre COVID that we're on our system where you got your swag packets in, out on the front end and you ran the race on your own.
Now we're seeing that more for Ben and just wanted to get a race director's perspective on timing with virtual events.
Carlo Facchino: [00:49:03]
It's incredible to see how we're trying to fill this. And it's, it's something where we're filling a need that has been needed only since yesterday. And so how do we get the technology up to speed with the need?
And that's, that's been the challenge. Uh, it's, it's really engaging. So we're using a company. So to sports, and they've created this platform for tracking like a multi-day challenge where participants can sync a Garmin watch sync, a Strava watch or Strava app, or they can enter in their miles manually, and then it'll track them across Google map.
Essentially show them their, their Google pin. That's moving across the map. So that's one sort of app. Sort of platform. We've also worked with Asex Runkeeper app and they've got a cool feature where our event is on their app. And so somebody can run with the app click that they're going to be doing our event.
And as soon as they hit 13.1 miles, the app stops there recording uploads it to our results website and boom they're done. So it's something that is pretty quick and easy. Strava is great. And they work with races like a New York road runners. Yeah. And they have an amazing platform, but in reality, they're not working with smaller entities, like, like mermaid to have that functionality.
So, you know, we're, we're trying to see where, where we can find that technology piece where we can fill that gap because. People still want to see their name on a display. Right? I mean, we still do paper printouts of results. We have the digital part as well, but there's something about posting that piece of paper up on a results board.
And there's something about people going over there and yeah. Trying to look at the line, see their name, see if they can go all the way across. To the, where the result is, you know, see what place they were in. There's there's just something about that physical part to it. I mean, yes, they get the text message right away about their results.
Yes. They can look on an iPad, but there's still just something about hovering around that leader, you know, that, that board and seeing your name and so that really with these virtual events, that's. Exactly. What people are looking for is a way to see their name up on a website or see something that shows where they placed.
And so that's where we're trying to fill that technology is trying to fill that. And so both with sodas where we're doing a multi-day challenge or with Runkeeper, where we're doing a single day challenge, that's, it's been cool to see how technology has been filling that gap.
Kevin Chang: [00:51:37]
Then do you think you'll continue doing virtual events even after we go back to live.
Now that you've seen a little bit of that other side and how we can inspire people,
Carlo Facchino: [00:51:47]
you know, as much as in person events, I'm, I'm, can't wait for them to come back. There's this component with these virtual events that is so appetizing to athletes, nobody has to wake up at 5:00 AM to go drive to a place.
Nobody has to wait in line for a porta potty. Nobody has to, you know, like, and drive home after the race. So there's all these things about a virtual event that are amazingly drawing in athletes to virtual events, because it gives them the freedom to choose when they want to do it. They might have something come up.
Like if your car breaks down or your kid gets sick and you can't go to the event in person, you're out of luck. Right. I mean, that was your one time that was the event happened. It's gone. It's done. Whereas with these virtual things, you really have that freedom, you know, you can, you can be like, Oh, well I'll do it tomorrow or I'll do it in the afternoon.
And so I think athletes are seeing that virtual events are different than in person events. Yes. But do they offer. A lot of similarities. And do they offer a lot of the same sort of accountability that an in person event does when you're training for an in person event and you're training for crossing that finish line, you're still training for that same finish line that you're going to cross in a virtual event.
And so that's where the similarities are. And I think virtual events are here to stay. I don't think in person events will ever be removed from the situation. So I'm, I'm, I'm not at all saying that. But the types of challenges that you can do with a virtual event are so much more, you know, just the different complexities that you can do with a virtual event compared to an in person event where you have city limit, you know, police officers who have to be done at a certain time, all those things.
So I really think virtual events are here to stay.
Kevin Chang: [00:53:33]
And hopefully the virtual ones will act as a gateway into the live events. You know, I think even back when, when I started running, when Bertrand started running, it was like a warrior dash event that kind of, Hey, get people in, you know? And, and so the virtual events are actually an easy way for people to get friends.
Get coworkers, get neighbors, get people into this challenge. And then once they fall in love, I mean, my hope is they're going to fall in love with the virtual, with just starting to get active, the accessibility of it, which you guys have really, really excelled at making things, accessible people, and then getting them kind of into one of these physical events.
And then they're going to fall in love with the physical events, just like just like Bertrand and I have.
Carlo Facchino: [00:54:15]
Right. I mean, you look at, you look at the color, run kudos to the color run. I mean, they got thousands and thousands of dollars, new people to come out and do a 5k, you know, that's, that's huge. That's that's and then those people have transitioned to everybody's event.
So these virtual events have a very similar feel where they're going to introduce a lot of people to a healthy lifestyle, and that's going to transition over into, you know, everybody having more people that their in person events. There is
Kevin Chang: [00:54:41]
one final question from, from that Facebook group, which is what does being a mermaid mean to you?
Carlo Facchino: [00:54:47]
A mermaid is a mythical character that people can identify with. It gives them that freedom to not stereotypically look at what an athlete is. Not stereotypically look at who a runner should be or who a triathlete should be. It gives them this sort of. I'm who I am and I'm a mermaid and there is no sort of defining quality of a mermaid except for a tale per se.
There's not a race, there's not an ethnicity. There's not a size or a shape. None of that. So when you're identifying yourself with sort of a mermaid it's who you want it to be, if I were to say, what does it mean to be a mermaid athlete? It's exactly what I perceive myself to be. And it's, it's me being a hundred percent happy with who I am and it's me being comfortable with my own skin.
And it's me being the type of person that I want to be. And so to me, I like that aspect. I mean, it's coincidental or synchronous that we have this mermaid athlete. We call all of our participants mermaid athletes, because we want them to identify with being an athlete. And therefore it's important that there's not like an image that needs to pop into somebody's head.
When you say I'm a mermaid athlete, it's Whoa, you're an athlete. You're a mermaid athlete. That makes total sense. And so that's kind of, to me, me, what I see when, when I think of a mermaid athlete, I think of somebody who is totally internal seeing the inner athlete and having their own image of what that means.
Kevin Chang: [00:56:25]
I love it. It makes so much sense, especially with the type of people that you attract, the type of events that you put on, you know, making sure that people believe that and themselves, that there is no stereotype that there is not one thing that defines it, that it is you that defines what that athlete is that, that you're believing in yourself that I love the motto.
I love the mermaid events at the series. We're so excited that you've been able to innovate in this space, in this virtual field, you know, where so many others have just done. One thing you've been able to do more, multiple types of events are really a dive into different ways that people can get involved with with your brand, with your company.
So we're so excited for you. We're so thankful for you jumping on the podcast with us. Anything that we haven't talked about? Anything that you want to put out there?
Carlo Facchino: [00:57:10]
No. Yeah. It has been amazing, uh, time to sit down and chat with you guys. Thank you guys. I mean, what you're doing is exactly the same idea that I try to do with our athletes and that's inspire people and then also share with people why, you know, who the race directors are share with people we want to be doing in, in our, in our own lives with our business.
And how we want to bring that to people and doesn't happen on a normal basis. People want to go out and they want to do their race. And not yet knew people get a chance to see the crew behind what goes on at the race. And so, you know, kudos to you guys. Thank you for helping shed the light on all of us, all the race directors.
Cause I know you interviewing a lot. And so thank you because that's important that our stories get shared. We love to share our athlete's stories. And it's cool to kind of have that go back in the opposite direction of us being able to share our story. So thank you guys.
Bertrand Newson: [00:58:13]
Kevin Chang: [00:58:13]
Thank you so much, Carlo great talk.
We'll have all of the show notes, everything online, all of the links to mermaid series and a special giveaway to our guests.
Bertrand Newson: [00:58:22]
Support your local racist support, those entities that have been in your community for years to ensure they can come back and sustain their business into the future.
Kevin Chang: [00:58:33]
Well, I hope you enjoyed this episode of the RaceMob podcast. Check out all of the show notes or find a running buddy online at dot com. Please subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts and leave us a review until next time. Keep on moving.