How Run Local Uses Story Telling to Inspire Fitness During a Pandemic

How Run Local Uses Story Telling to Inspire Fitness During a Pandemic


JT Service and David Monico join our podcast. JT’s companies Soul Focus Sports and Silverback Pacific are responsible for the production of some of the most iconic races here in the Bay Area including:

In addition, they have worked on some exciting activations with some of the biggest brands in the industry including

Even more near and dear to our hearts - is Soul Focus’ flagship series - the Run Local Event Series - which includes:

During this discussion, we talk about:

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Podcast Transcription

The following transcript is provided for your convenience. It was created through a program, and may not be entirely accurate to our conversation.
JT Service: [00:00:00]

For us to keep our reputation, like every single one of them equality, you know, we're not half passing. Any event? There's no like, Oh, we'll just, we'll just get by with that one. Every single touch point, every single client, every single event. There's so much pressure. I think that I put on myself and then put on people like Dave on our team to be like,
it's gotta be great.

Kevin Chang: [00:00:23]

Hello. Hello and welcome to the RaceMob podcast. This is episode number four. I'm Kevin entrepreneur technology and fitness nerd, and the founder of race mom. I'm joined by the founder of two legit fitness. Co-chair the Taji 100, RRC a certified coach USA track and field certified official the incomparable Bertrand Newsland in today's episode, we talk with JT service and David Monaco of soul focus sports.
You can find all the show notes online at dot com slash podcasts and Duffer there. Do let's get right into the interview. We are excited to welcome JT service and David Monaco to the podcast. JTS company's sole focus, sports and silver back Pacific are responsible for the production of some of the most iconic races here in the Bay area, including the San Francisco marathon, beta breakers, giants race, and the Stanford summer scamper, which benefits the Lucille Packard foundation.
In addition, they've worked on some exciting activations with some of the biggest brands in the industry, including HoCo Adidas and under armor. Even more near and dear to our hearts is soul focuses. Flagship events, the run local events series, which includes the four Oh eight K race to the row. The San Jose Shamrock run, Silicon Valley, half marathon across the Bay, 12 K and four one five K and the East Bay five 10 K.
It also includes the newly minted, California coast. 500. Welcome to the show guys.

JT Service: [00:02:04]

Yeah, that's for having this. Thank you.

Kevin Chang: [00:02:08]

Well, Bertrand and I firmly believe that the racy experience is so much better when you get to know the team putting on the race. And when you get to pull back the curtain a little bit and hear some of their stories.
So we wanted our audience to get to know you guys a little bit better.

JT Service: [00:02:24]

Yeah, that's cool. It's funny because I think David and I were just talking about it. We're like, why would they want to know us? We move around. We'd set Facebook budgets. We're sometimes you don't realize what you do or that people care.
And it's cool to hear that. Hear that? Yeah.

Kevin Chang: [00:02:43]

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We absolutely care. We absolutely care. Now I know Bertrand and I, we kinda got into running kind of later in life. you know, when we were in our twenties and our thirties, but I think JT, you were kind of born into the sport if,

JT Service: [00:02:56]

if that's, yeah, that's a good way to put it.
I probably couldn't have avoided it if I wanted to. I think I even did try to avoid it for a little bit, but yeah, my dad was a local coach, a high school coach in San Jose. at Leland high school, he had some, some really top athletes, Daniel , who was, won state championship. Emily, Alison who won the state championship was a Footlocker finalist.
And so he took that and then he went on to Santa Clara university coach there. And so when you're the son of, I like that of a, of a coach like that. People find out that you should be running too. And I think that's what happened at my high school. My coach Mike Sasso is like, is it your dad, Tom service?
Like you're running cross country. And I was like, I was going to, you played basketball like this. And they're like, you're five, four, three. You're not going to play basketball. So, that you didn't have a choice. Yeah, it was, it was born into it. And it was pretty fun though. I got fortunate to be forced into it.
But Dave, Dave's been running around San Jose for ever. We were racing each other back in high school. Is that right?

David Monico: [00:03:54]

We've got a good Spud Webb game. We've played a couple, a couple of times. It's about it. I'm glad JT found running.

Kevin Chang: [00:04:02]


David Monico: [00:04:02]

Yeah. I ran against JT in high school. It was crazy. We've known each other a long time.
and that's about the time I got into it as well. PE coach was like, Hey, we don't got anybody from the freshman class run and cross country and anybody want to sign up. And I thought, Oh, that's a great way to get in shape for basketball season in the winter. And, never tried out for basketball. It's just all running from then on out.

Kevin Chang: [00:04:21]

So David, did you end up running in college as well?

David Monico: [00:04:25]

Yeah. You know, funny enough JT and I actually both ended up at UC Santa Barbara. and, yeah, so we've, we went from, I wouldn't even say high school rivals, JT was I think a little bit better than I was. And then we probably equaled out by our senior year.
and then we became teammates along with a lot of our other, you know, former high school rivals from the area in San Jose. We had a bunch of kids from the area on the team at the time. So this was a late nineties, 99, 2000. and so that was a lot of fun, you know, going from that high school environment of just kind of knowing these guys and racing it against them occasionally, then all of a sudden you're being teammates and, you know, for some of us now coworkers and colleagues and friends, so it's, yeah, it's been awesome.

Bertrand Newson: [00:05:05]

You know, Dave, just out of curiosity, what high school did you attend?

David Monico: [00:05:08]

Oh, yeah. I went to Piedmont Hills high school, just kinda up from the airport on the East side there.

JT Service: [00:05:12]

Local boy. Yeah. All San Jose.

Kevin Chang: [00:05:15]

Paint me a little picture of what college is like for, you know, for, for runner, for a running athlete.
What kind of training? What does training look like? what do you go through? And I know that you guys started to become fairly elite runners, kind of towards the end of your time at college. So tell me a little bit about like, I mean, give people. Clarity on what your training schedule was like. And then what kind of numbers were you putting up?

JT Service: [00:05:38]

You want that one? Dave?

David Monico: [00:05:39]

Yeah. JT probably had a little bit more education than I did with his dad, but I think there was a little, a lot of just like laughing because education on training back then we were in a program fortunately, where we had a coach, coach, Pete Dolan that, was, you know, he, he, all of guys like Arthur Lydiard and what, some of the big Oregon coaches did.
And so we were a pretty, you know, high mileage programs, what they called it back then. So we were. We were starting off running, you know, 60, 70 up to 80 miles a week, our freshmen and sophomore year. And I think both JT and I probably the time we were done, you know, we were during the summertime probably logging in, you know, over a hundred miles a week during summer training.
So it became a, yeah, it became pretty active sense. Like even in a place like UCFB, You know, where there's plenty of opportunities to party, which, you know, we dabbled in occasionally. Yeah. If you want it to succeed, I'm saying you, you have to be pretty serious and consistent. there's just, there's no hiding it when it comes to running a, I think you can do that in some team sports.
Sometimes you can have an off day, but there's just no hiding and running. You know, you gotta put the work in

JT Service: [00:06:44]

a lot of two a days like you get up early morning, easy run. Afternoon was a hard run, like four and eight, six and 10 checkouts and then a workout. It was just like, it was beefy. It was flat around it.

David Monico: [00:06:59]

There was, there was some Sunday mornings. I recall getting a JT out of bed. Both

JT Service: [00:07:03]


David Monico: [00:07:03]

us, a little,

JT Service: [00:07:04]

a little

David Monico: [00:07:06]

and a little created. Maybe there's

JT Service: [00:07:09]

still some Sundays like that. Yeah. I agree.

Bertrand Newson: [00:07:12]

Hydration is important.

JT Service: [00:07:14]

I know.

Bertrand Newson: [00:07:16]

You know, as we did mention on the front end. Yep. There we go. Yeah,

Kevin Chang: [00:07:20]

everybody drinks.

JT Service: [00:07:24]

That's a good beer. Oh, you guys are pro what do you got?

Kevin Chang: [00:07:27]

This is a new Belgium. It's all you guys.

JT Service: [00:07:31]

I love the way you guys are doing Mondays. I have, I've got a high ball, energy drink. I'm going the opposite way. I'm going up. I've got a few more hours of work to do.

Kevin Chang: [00:07:40]

That's right? Yeah. Yeah. You still got to meet with giants race later.

JT Service: [00:07:44]

It's a giant race. Yeah. We've got a new project we're working on for the beer mile. So very appropriate that you guys are having a beer mile right now. But yeah, we got a lot of cool things going on. Actually, just hearing you say kind of, you know, some of the things that run local does or soul focused does, and then Silverback, it freaks me out sometimes.

Kevin Chang: [00:08:05]

Why is that? Why is that?

JT Service: [00:08:07]

It's so it's a lot, dude. It's like a lot of things, bro. We break it down for our client side, tote, the things we own to, you know, things we do for other people on the experiential side, the brand pieces. And we just, for, for us to keep our reputation, like every single one of them has to be quality.
You know, we're not half asking any of it. There's no like, Oh, we'll just, we'll just get by with that one. Every single touch point, every single client, every single event. There's so much pressure. I think that I put on myself and then put onto people like Dave on our team to be like, it's gotta be great.
So we do it. It's gotta be good. So, Dave, I don't know. Maybe that's a question for Dave. Am I killing you? Day by day

David Monico: [00:08:54]

at times. Yes, we have a very, we have a very healthy, yes, problem. I think, you know, everybody that we work with, we enjoy working with, we're passionate about what we do. That's what JT is like, you know, you could hear the passion in his voice and that goes into our work.
Like we get pissed if something's not at the quality that it should be, you know, something as little as like. An email went out this morning that mentioned cycling in the California coast 500 email and just like, ah, man, I can't believe I let that one slip, like there's little things. There's big things, but it just speaks to this overall environment of like, we want things to be done really well at a high level.
Because our community deserves it. You know, the participants that are at these races, like they deserve a really good experience.

Kevin Chang: [00:09:43]

Well, I mean, you guys, weren't always this big, obviously you guys started smaller. Can you kind of take us back to those early days? Like what were the first. What was the first event that sole focus sports put on?
What were those initial races that you guys put together? Take us back in time.

JT Service: [00:09:58]

Yeah, I think it's at, it's a good time for that question. So, so focus has been around for 10 years. in 2009, 2010, I split off from a previous agency called evolve. Sports served so focused by myself and then. I slowly started to add some team members.
but we got two clients at the same time. the Lucile Packard children's hospital, was looking for a company to produce their first annual summer scamper. and then the San Francisco giants were looking to move on to, for a new company to help put on the giant race. So, but I'd say the first race we ever did was.
The summer scamper, this was supposed to be the 10th annual. It would have happened last Sunday about a week ago or something like that, the 10th annual. And obviously because of current current conditions, we weren't able to put on that 10th annual this year, but we will celebrate it in 2021 and 2021,

Bertrand Newson: [00:10:54]

great event by the way.

JT Service: [00:10:55]

Oh, it's so cool. It's got this real special, like. A patient focused feeling and you know, not only that comes from it certainly doesn't come from us. It's a, it's a great foundation, that the hospitals and incredible organization, you get to learn and meet all these people. my girlfriend right now, I've met her at the foundation.
She's worked on the event for a long time. So I, the event just keeps giving to me, which is wonderful. But 10 years later, it's, it's one of my most. It's one of my favorite things. And for us to keep that client for 10 years, it makes me feel really good. It means that we've done a good job, but it also is something that we've just stuck with our original clients as well.
Same with the giants, you know, while we haven't worked with the giants at every level for the last 10 years, there's still a client 10 years later, so we're doing four events for them now. and then I think, so we started to produce some giant races that we felt were. Well, well organized and started to get more confidence.
That's when I started to think, well, maybe we should do this for ourselves simultaneously. Like I think it just, you need to get confidence. you sit with other, it's like almost investing with other people's money a little bit, and then you're like, Oh, we can do this. We know you can be creative. So that's where we started 408k in 2012.
And started, you know, represent running and what, what is now called run though? Cool events. But the idea originally was do things for other people. Then we added on another layer, which was to start our own events. Then when we nailed the 408k, that's like, all right, let's take this to San Francisco. Let's go to the East Bay.
and we've, we've grown on and built on top of that, but it is very much like a foundation of piece by piece, piece by piece, just adding a little bit more. in 2015, when a friend of mine from Hoka Hoka was a very small company at the time, I was like, Hey, we need some, some innovative ideas to attract to high school runners to these new shoes.
And so then we started working on hookup business. And then under Armour opportunity came around. So it's really just been like. maybe it's a little bit of my add some that I can't just do. One thing. I can't just produce events like Dave McGilvery out in Boston and be like, we are the PR event producers for other people's stuff.
It's like, I can't do that. I can't wake up and just do this, the same thing all the time. So we've added and gotten very creative with how we interact with the endurance sports world. at a lot of different, a lot of different areas, a lot of different levels. Okay. So I, I hope that answers it's 2010 to 2020 has been about adding a little bit here and there every year.

Kevin Chang: [00:13:15]

Were there ever times that you thought, you know, an event wasn't going to happen or that you ran into issues? Can you take me through some scenarios where like you were, were you were running up against problems or issues?

JT Service: [00:13:27]

Oh yeah. I think if we had Justin Cobra and our course manager on this call, He would say, you put me in a van with no breaks.
You put 12 volunteers into the van. I've been up for 36 hours. And he told me to just start dropping them all over the course and having people point them where to go. And he's like, I was going to be my last day of work. It's all focused. And it was like, yeah, but we got through it. You know, like it worked out, you did a great job.
So, that's you know, these early giant races were. Always big. Cause I think we were, were playing on a bigger level than sometimes we knew we were sometimes the race doesn't go perfectly, but it's those failures, it's those giant races and those things where you do have to pull an all nighter or you did have to figure it out at the last minute, or you had these monster lessons.
That then give you confidence to be like, well, I'm never going to make that mistake again. Or maybe people didn't see what this challenge that you had to go through, but you, you get these just wonderful character building and company building moments, and maybe the people as well. I'd say like these times going through with Dave, your, your bonds get incredibly tight in the event world.
So it's, it's those struggles in those really tough ones as tough events that were like, Okay. Like we can do this and we can do it better next time. So I, I don't know if there's some stuff specific ones this year. We'll probably go down as one of the more, more difficult ones. And also the time I'm maybe most the team as well.
So I don't want to jump ahead, but, It's hard to, hard to compare.

Kevin Chang: [00:14:57]

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I guess probably a lot of runners think, Oh, these things just run themselves or you just show up at the starting line and, you know, and they don't really appreciate the amount of work, the amount of effort that goes into each and every event, especially.
A brand new, a lot of the, a lot of the races that you put on, there's no specific set course when you show up, right. You have like these area code races. It's an eight K I don't think there's an eight K like here in San Jose course. So you probably had to make that up, create that, figure that out, figure out.
So, I mean, again, peel me, you know, take us back behind the curtain a little bit for like creating some of these races, the amount of thought and effort you guys put up to you. Yeah. Sure. It'd be the four one five K and across the Bay, 12 K. Since those are those, some of the ones coming up.

JT Service: [00:15:43]

Yeah, that, one's pretty cool.
And I, I liked that story and maybe I can give credit away. That's there too, because across the Bay has been around for Dave. Do you know how many years? 37 years. Seven years. Yeah. 37 years. So Dave Roddy was very much. Roddy co-productions with sole focused sports through the eighties and the nineties.
And I ran his races after I got out of college and got to run across the Bay. And I love it. I love that the point to point aspect, the golden gate bridge. I love talking competitive. It was just a beautiful, it's a really cool race. And then we heard. across the Bay that he was winding down a little bit, you know, it's not easy to do this job for a really long time.
I think Dave did it for the eighties, you know, 30 years, 30 plus years. And that's a, that's a long haul at any job. It's a really long haul as a race director. and so he was, they weren't going to put on across the Bay. and I think from a community aspect, we a, I, I wanted to keep that tradition alive.
Like keep it going to, I liked Dave, Dave has always been a great mentor. And we found a way to transition that event from roadie co into, into run local events, into sole focus in us to keep that tradition alive. And so he was just so generous with the way that we were able to make that, financially work, but also on how they were able to transfer the knowledge base that it took to work with five different the agencies, the golden gate bridge authority, Gigi NRA, the national park service, the city of San Francisco.
parks and rec. It's like, that's a permit for every single one of those. I quickly took those permits and I handed them to that, you know, other people on my team that are much smarter than me. and, and they've, they've done a great job with it, but we were able to take that event. I think you had 2300 people or something.
The last year Dave did it and we brought it back to like 5,200, the next year with a lot of love and trying to connect the Bay area from San Jose to the East Bay, to San Francisco. So that event is in a, such a cool place. And Dave, I would love to give him and the team credit for what they've done this year on a virtual level.
And so maybe Dave, you can speak to that of like, how do we, how we're keeping the community and local aspect alive, even though there won't be a physical event.

David Monico: [00:17:46]

Yeah. And I I've been using with the team, like the analogy right now, with these virtual events. But I think it speaks to even the live events.
It's like it's producing a movie, right? You have all the logistics that go into creating a movie, but what actually makes a movie so special is the story, you know, when you're in the theater and sharing out people, that's what we do. Right. We're creating this shared experience at a. At a starting line, with everybody.
and so you have like what you do on the operation side, which is sometimes I think. Like if people don't see that we've done our job well, like JT just explained, you know, five different permits that we have to go through, right. To have that race, happen. but then the storytelling piece is so important and I think that's allowed us to actually transition to virtual events so well in kind of a nice, special way versus just being comfortable with like, well, we're taking your money, here's a shirt and a metal.
It's like, no, we want to bring more to it. We did have with the California coast 500 with across the Bay, we're going to be launching this whole like page on the race, 400, five side. That's going to like speak to the eighties. We're going to bring Dave roadie in JT already did a podcast with them. We have cool old photographs.
Like we're just whether we're just doing it for ourselves to keep ourselves

JT Service: [00:19:02]

that's. If people feel it,

David Monico: [00:19:04]

like, we just want to make sure that that's okay. Yeah, the story gets across. So, but yeah, the default, at least we're making ourselves feel good by doing all this work. If, if the people don't feel it, but I think they do.

JT Service: [00:19:18]

Absolutely. But Dave, Dave, like undersells it a little bit. He's like, Oh, that's what we do is race directors. We sell this story. It's like, no, like the industry does not do that. That's, that's really a, I believe a separating piece, which is. Right. Yes. That's what this company does. And that's what the best do, which is take it seriously.
Try to take the sport. Seriously, try to take, you know, what it means to people to go and do it. And I think people will get tired of virtual events without that, without making it special without giving them something to grasp onto after the run, before the run, it, it just won't mean as much. Right.
It's so Dave's done a great job of that. He's the master master storyteller from a PR perspective.

Kevin Chang: [00:19:57]

I think you're a hundred percent, right. I think the story is so integral to the entire idea of virtual runs, virtual races. I mean, I think as a runner, you know, I try to tell my friends. Yeah. I'm interested in these virtual runs.
Obviously the California coast 500 has been an integral part of the last couple of weeks for me. I mean, you can, you can take a look at my. Runs before we started June 7th and like all of a sudden, yeah, it's, it's crazy right now. and I think when I tell people about these virtual runs or virtual races, you know, it's not about just getting swag, just getting, you know, t-shirts or metals or any of that.
You really are taking that money and you're investing it into yourself, your health, your personal wellness, your personal wellbeing, right? I mean those $60 on the California coast, 500, they're the best $60. I've spent a long, long, long time because it's like, I've got to go out every day and I've got to go, right.
Like prove myself, prove it to the other people that are running with me along the way. And so, yeah. For me, it's like, yeah, but without that story, without, you know, you guys helping us along making that in a better experience, a great experience, it does kind of go away, go by the wayside. Right. So I think what you guys are doing with virtual events, it's, it's unparalleled in the industry and I think you guys are doing just a fantastic job.
Fantastic job.

JT Service: [00:21:13]

Yeah. And honestly, we're hearing that a lot. Like we're getting that feedback and it may be one of the more dynamic things we've done in a long time. Because of the narrative and the pieces that team put into it and the relationship they built with power lab from a technologies perspective.
And they said, power livestock. Well, it might be tough to do the mat part. And it's like, well, we need a map. And so they just, you know, they stuck to their guns and it makes it so sticky. I'm hearing people all the time, different people like I'm running more now than I have been in years more than I have in my entire life.
You've given me something to look out over all the entire time. And that's, that's what Dave and his marketing team have created.

Bertrand Newson: [00:21:50]

And during this time,

JT Service: [00:21:51]


Bertrand Newson: [00:21:52]

Unprecedented times where people are dealing with a financial hardship, in some cases, uncertainty. kids going back to school, not going back to school, being able to have a sense of community, even with the virtual race format, which is some cases, there were some stereotypes about virtual races and, you know, fly by night accompanies coming in.

JT Service: [00:22:11]

I know, I might've said something or keep it at 100.

Kevin Chang: [00:22:17]


Bertrand Newson: [00:22:17]

absolutely the California coast 500, it is inspiring individuals to stay active in a timeframe where. Happiness for some is very tough to come by. So people investing back in themselves, the price point of 60 plus dollars or a, you know, three months long journey

JT Service: [00:22:37]

through the coast, California, virtually

Bertrand Newson: [00:22:39]

and good stuff.
Good stuff. So kudos, Dave, kudos, JT.

JT Service: [00:22:46]

Thank you.

Kevin Chang: [00:22:47]

Well, take us back back to the start of COVID and, you know, when you guys realized or first realized, you know, obviously you guys had a whole spring slate of races. Can you tell us kind of back to that time, how you guys shifted, you guys have a fairly large team and what you guys had to do.
And, what was that time like?

David Monico: [00:23:06]

Yeah, we were for better or worse. I'm saying we were one of the first events that had to, to cancel, not just in the room industry, but you know, altogether, especially up in the Bay area, formally canceled the live Shamrock run. Yeah. Monday before that was supposed to happen.
and we had just come off of the 408k, which always has great energy. and just so much uncertainty I'm. So I remember, I remember those conversations. In those early days where we're like, all right, well, you know, we'll be back for across the Bay. We'll be, you know, this, maybe do we do,

JT Service: [00:23:37]

what about it sounds funny.

David Monico: [00:23:42]

we actually made, we, we made, I know we, but we made the right call as a

JT Service: [00:23:46]

command to call at the same time.

David Monico: [00:23:48]

We also, we postpone the Silicon Valley half at the same time. And at the time that was actually relatively radical. Like people weren't canceling April events yet. but we thought it was the right thing to do from a community perspective from just our staff's perspective.
You know, we started the call mentioning, you know, I have two kids, we have other people on staff that have kids at home. It's like, how do you even produce an event in three weeks? All of this stuff going on. So she, you know, Shamrock, was an event where it happened so quickly where we did a couple of things.
You know, we did some social contest, but we didn't have time to react. we were really thankful to our community and still are incredibly thankful for our community, for sticking with us through the Shamrock. there wasn't a lot of calls for deferrals or refunds. It was just like this understanding of like, Hey, we're in this together.
and I think that also made our next step with the California coast 500. That much more important because we knew that we wanted to do something bigger and more impactful. And so we waited and waited and we brainstormed and, you know, finally launched in early June with the California coast 500. But yeah, it was a, that was an interesting time for the events world.
And just thinking through like, Yeah, we can, we'll be back in a couple of days in a couple of weeks, you know, and here we are now planning like what's going to happen in 2021. Yeah. Nobody knows.

JT Service: [00:25:06]

But let me, Dave and the team even more credit on, on that transition because Hey, yes, they dealt with the Shamrock messaging in an amazing way.
It was very clear. It was defined. They did Silicon Valley at the exact same time. So it took out some thinking from people and be like, are you going to be able to do this? They took that question out of it. Right. And it said, we're going to postpone. So the fall. and, and then after, at that point, I'm sorry, wanting to see some virtual events pop up or whatever, and I'm so antsy.
Like I want everything now. I want to be beat everybody to the punch. I'm like pressuring down on the, on Dave and the team to just be like, alright, we gotta do something like I'm freaking out behind the scenes and they're just like, hold on. Like, wait, let's let the dust settle. Let's make sure what we do matters, like is a, is an actual plan of attack.
That's going to be impactful. And that's why I really wanted Dave to be on the podcast today to just be like these, these are the people that are like slowing me down. Yes. I can be like the motor and try to, you know, gas them up a little bit, but they were, they made it meaningful to the point of like, Yes.
It took longer. Yes, it was ever. But I think the lesson there is, if you're going to do it, do it right, then do it once and do it. Right. And, you know, that's, that's so cool to be like, Oh my own lessons of like asking for excellence and perfection are coming back to me from my own team. So it's this like beautiful circle of, of leadership.

David Monico: [00:26:26]

Yeah, that was a, you know, I'll walk you guys through it. Cause I think it's a really interesting process. And Aaron Jacobson, the president of run local events, I think is one of those steady hands that JT has on his side that like balances everything out.

JT Service: [00:26:38]

Like no emotion. He's like, you're gonna just talk to me all day.
JT. I don't care what you're saying. I'm not going to change what we're doing.

David Monico: [00:26:49]

But it's, you know, Aaron and I, and the marketing team, you know, we spent all of April into may and we could sense JT getting super

JT Service: [00:26:57]


David Monico: [00:26:59]

And I remember we had a meeting and even Erin who's like even keel. Was like somebody just launched a California challenge.
It's like some company like in New York or something like we got to go, but the thoughtfulness that we had put into this plan allowed us to actually roll out the design of the website, literally in a weekend. Like we went from zero to 60 and, you know, being the first time we went through that process together was, was really, really cool.
it was kind of like waking up at three o'clock in the morning and putting up cones and barricades. It was like our virtual way of doing that. and I I've been saying this on some of the calls. Like I can't wait, like to get back to just putting up barricades and cones, like way more fun right

JT Service: [00:27:41]

It does. Well, it's

Kevin Chang: [00:27:45]

going to be, we know a lot about the California coast, 500, I guess I should have, I should have stopped us. And let you guys explain a little bit more about what this race is. I think there's over 1800 participants right now, over

JT Service: [00:27:58]

2,100 or something right now. Wow. So not everyone has, I think, recorded their first runs.
Or maybe the, you know, they don't intend to, but yeah, 20, 2100 participants. Right. Solid.

Kevin Chang: [00:28:13]

Yeah. And the event goes all the way through September. Is that right? September 7th, September 8th. And you can, you can sign up anytime between now, now, and then.

JT Service: [00:28:21]

Yeah. It's so cool. So I just, Dean Karnazes. Who is it a big part of my past?
He was my first, the first athlete I ever represented out of law school was the ultra marathon man. And he pinged me on Friday. And he's like, have you heard about this California coast? I was like, are you messing with me? Dean. And I was like, that's my thing, man. Like, I didn't, it was my team's thing.
Yeah. And so it was so cool and he's been awesome and he's like, Oh, I want to do it. So he put it out to social media this morning. So I expect like, what's cool about the California coast 500. And this entire thing is that yes, it started on June 8th and it goes to September 7th and it's 500 miles from Santa Monica pier run highway one.
So that's why we call it run the one. To the golden gate bridge, but it doesn't start and stop like on that day. And in that's where this virtual storytelling it gets so interesting is that you can jump in at any time. You know, you can, you know, Dean Dean can start today and see how many miles you can get.
And, and we can tell the story of KK Fisher who ran 500 miles in 16 days. And we can, we can tell she's running 50 K a day, and she's a mom of two in such a fun story. And then another guy, Joe Sharif is from Massachusetts and he's seven years old and he's running 27 miles a day. And you're like, what the hell, Joe?
I can't do that. And it's really cool to tell these little stories and another guy from Canada who should've finished up today, but it's for everyone at their own level. And you don't have to run 500 miles. We've got. my mom trying to walk a hundred miles this summer, just on her normal walks every few days with her friends and she'll get the a hundred mile badge be happy with it.
My dad's counting has gone smiles or whatever it's going to be, but it's for everyone at a different level. And so, yes, the 500 is that, that big lollipop goal at the end. But. It doesn't have to be that it's a hundred, 200, 400. And that's where the team really created something for everybody. I think.

Kevin Chang: [00:30:12]

I'm shooting for that two 50. I'm there's no way I'm getting over with there's no way.

JT Service: [00:30:19]

My mind is 500 miles left. Achilles is two 50

Kevin Chang: [00:30:23]

and we have to give a shout out to

JT Service: [00:30:24]

200 for the big dog. Yeah.

Kevin Chang: [00:30:26]

Yeah, no kidding. Who had, I think 60 something members, maybe 70 something

JT Service: [00:30:31]


Kevin Chang: [00:30:34]

I know. I thought I was like, Oh, I'm for sure.
Going to be on the first page of this. I'm like Don on the bottom of page three, I've walked like 60 miles. These guys are, I mean, these guys are crazy right now

David Monico: [00:30:44]

as a coach V you, you guys have won. I think you guys are now close to 8,000 miles collectively as a team.

JT Service: [00:30:51]

That's how we roll. That's pretty cool.
And you can actually, that's kind of fun too, to like check your team stuff, throughout this whole thing. So even our inner squad team, that puts on our events, we have our own, and there's just tons of. Ish talking, going on between if that was that wasn't a real run or, you know, did you put your garment on your dog?
Yeah, so,

Kevin Chang: [00:31:13]

I mean, that's, that's the coolest thing about it too, is it's not all about running. You don't have to be super fast. You don't have to go at a. You know, great pace. A lot of people are walking and a lot of people are taking their time. And this is about movement. This is about getting fitness. This is about just getting out there, being active.
And I think, I mean, that's one of the best.

JT Service: [00:31:32]

Yeah. And we need that as coach, he said right now, we need it more than ever. Yeah. And if you need some, merch, there's some great opportunities at runlocalshop.com. We just got these in, but, yeah, you can check that out there. If you're watching at home, the podcast, people have no idea what I'm talking about, but I'm putting on a hat.
This is California coast 500. and it's a great, you got it. Yeah. Ocean blue with an Emerald green California coast emblem, 500 with California's official state poppy, decorating the outside of the emblem. Plus the officially like licensed run local gear. On that side. What I'm trying to say is run local shop.com is where you can get all your gear wag.
That's that sweet spot. That's right.

Kevin Chang: [00:32:25]

That's right. I got my own run local. Sure.

JT Service: [00:32:27]

Oh, that's cool. That's one of the first ones. Classic classic Elisa. Gavin was involved in that. Sure. David

David Monico: [00:32:36]

that's awesome.

Kevin Chang: [00:32:37]

Yeah. Long time ago, long time ago,

JT Service: [00:32:40]

exit like just coming out. So we're like, we're going to put a hashtag on a shirt.

Kevin Chang: [00:32:46]


JT Service: [00:32:47]

we're so cool. I'm sorry, I have derailed this conversation. Like I typically do Kevin. That's great.

Kevin Chang: [00:32:55]

I mean, you've had this idea for a long time though. I remember back in probably 2015, 2016, talking about kind of a virtual virtual run across California, one of these, ideas and whatnot. So was it really, COVID kicking your team into gear and how then did you like.
Trent. I know you have a lot of full time employees. So how did you transfer people from going logistics, operation side to transferring over to?

JT Service: [00:33:23]

I can't even, all I do is I've hired my friends and people that have had my back since the beginning. So I get the people together, but Dave can speak to. Like what people are doing now versus what they used to be doing.

David Monico: [00:33:36]

Man. It's been so cool. Kevin and coach be like to watch all this, even things like sitting back as in the, you know, the marketing director, chair, We've had our operations people like Angela and Justin, who JT mentioned, you know, driving the van on the early days with no support. they're doing our badges.
They're, they've literally taught themselves graphic design to make the badges. So if you think like, man, they must have these really cool, like graphic designers on staff, like people, that are, pulling that together. we've had people, you know, everyone's like, Create helping create these tour guides.
it really has been a team effort. Like it's just been really amazing to see. And I'd like to say that I had this master plan like this person's doing this, or we need this help, but it was so organic and so beautiful. Here's the idea. Here's how it comes together. And people just stepping up like, Hey, I think I can do this.
Why don't I make the Spotify playlist? So I'm like, great. I wasn't even thinking about playlist. And that's an amazing idea. you know, JTS brought tic talk to the table. I'm not really sure how we're

JT Service: [00:34:38]

using that yet. I'm just watching a lot of it. That's just still in research R and D phase right now for tick tock.

David Monico: [00:34:47]

No, it's, it's been, it's been super organic. It's been really cool to see, just everyone pulling together.

Kevin Chang: [00:34:52]

That is one thing that people don't really realize. Well, I mean, two things, right? One that your money, when you are registering for a raise, when you are registering for an event, you know, goes to this amazing team that is there to support you there, to support your journey along the way.
And also, I mean, you guys have, along the way, been partnering with a lot of, Amazing funds. A lot of great, great, charitable contributions and stuff over time. I mean, I think the real reason why we want to have you guys on is because we want to make sure that, that people are supporting you throughout this entire time

JT Service: [00:35:24]

and that,

Kevin Chang: [00:35:25]

you know yeah.
We aren't just signing up for a willingly virtual run out there that you guys have been in. This community have supported us throughout the years, have supported so many connections and friendships, including the one between Bertrand and I was at the four one five all those years ago, I think at the initial event.
and also we want to make sure that people are out there supporting you guys and the races that you guys put on because we want to be out there next year. We want to be doing the runs this year, but. you know, we want to make sure that, that there are races and events going forward.

JT Service: [00:35:56]

So that's cool.
Yeah. We've got some friends out in Texas now. Not, well, one of them's in Texas. No, one's in Minnesota. It's a, I think they call it the early call. Paul pod. It's put on by two race directors, Eli and Tony, and they're calling it a hashtag, run now. To run later. so it's like it support the events that are doing the work that are actual real event producers that are the real local events.
And then we're going to be able to do these in the future because if we don't support them now, you know, we might not be back. Yeah. And that's very much the same thing with your local, your local restaurant, you know, get takeout, get pickup good, you know, support local beyond, beyond just events so that we can be doing this for years to come.
So we really appreciate it. Thank you for, for considering us. and we're still afloat. Like, we have 12 employees, we have not laid off a single person. We have not taken, you know, declined or, even minimized, anybody's paycheck or something like that. So like, I, we are, I feel like we're just crushing it in terms of supporting our team and it's because the community continues to support us.
And on top of it, The California coast, five hundreds raised over $20,000 for no kid hungry. And it can't wait at the exact same time. Like this could have been definitely a time where people just chose to focus on themselves, give them their $60 and done the run. But instead they said $60. And you know what, here's another a hundred bucks for a hundred kids like this community special on both sides of the.

David Monico: [00:37:21]

Yeah. And I'll mention for, you know, coach B and Kevin. I know you've been a part of this too. It's the ambassador network that we've have, and that JT and the, the team has cultivated even prior to when I, I started working more and more with, with run local, that ambassador network, especially in the Bay area, It's it's so cool to see.
It's so powerful. It's meaningful. I just, yeah, I, I I'm so thankful, like sitting back just, again, from that marketing standpoint, it just goes beyond marketing. It's just like one of those things that as a company we want to do, like we know supporting runners and the groups that are supporting others is just the right thing to do.
So it's, it's been really cool to see,

Bertrand Newson: [00:38:01]

you know, Dave, thanks for saying that regarding the ambassadors. and as much as you are thanking the local running community, What separates run local formerly represent running is the leadership. You guys completely immerse yourself into the community. You're not just looking to turn over a race and a bid.
you guys are present JTS on a first name basis with so many people in the Bay area, his, his commitment, his passion, his enthusiasm, his genuineness is really what separates your company. From other race entities here in the Bay area, and we know that your grassroots, we know it's your small and you're local.
And that's why it is so easy to say yes, and support or run local. And I've been very fortunate myself and being an ambassador since 2015, and I've loved every minute of it. and we got you, man. And we, we, we really do what question. Is in all the races that you've had. You've had to have a couple of like viral, special aha moments where

JT Service: [00:39:03]


Bertrand Newson: [00:39:03]

timing and circumstances,

JT Service: [00:39:07]


Bertrand Newson: [00:39:07]

special moments.
I can think of a handful, but I, to put that question out to you and the date,

JT Service: [00:39:13]

I mean, for me, it's hard to ignore. The Joe Bell moment, 2013, I think that is so Joe Bell's of world war II veteran lives in San Jose and his house was on the course of the 408k and he's. We heard the event was supporting, Pat Tillman, fallen army ranger.
And he came out in his world war II uniform to cheer on the runners who were running for, you know, w one of his, fellow military, military men. But instead of Joe just cheering on the runners, the runners turned it back on him and just start, you know, Shaking his hand, and thanking him for his service while they're on their run.
You know, again, this beautiful cycle of just what I call, you know, give love, get love, where it's just like you give first and you're going to get it back. And it just comes back and it kind of snowballs. And that that scene was caught by a neighbor and it literally went viral. It was on NBC nightly news news with Brian Williams.
It was on all these different things. Tons of. Play on YouTube. And for me it was like, Oh my gosh, we're creating something to give people an opportunity to do something special. And sometimes we can't even control whatever that special is going to be. I like it control everything and be like, Oh, mariachi mile.
Like I'm going to be the I'm the magician. But the best moments are the ones where you just create a platform. And then, you know, magic happens from there. That's my, that's probably my number one for me from all past events. This has been a lot of. A lot of cool and state Dave, you got one.

David Monico: [00:40:51]

Yeah, I'm saying I'm, I'm relatively new to the run local, you know, team from a full time basis.
So for me, it's, what's going on right now is just, it's not necessarily like this viral moment yet. From an internal, like team perspective. It's incredibly special. The thing that I'm seeing that's really cool is we're run local Bay area. Like that's where it started. Right. And we have 14 countries, almost all 50 States represented.
like it's, it's really cool to see something that we've built. That's really true to who we are. Like, we're not trying to develop an event in Arizona. It's like, Hey, most of us live on the coast. We know the California coast let's do something that we really know and share a piece of ourselves. And that seems to be resonating pretty well.
so it's yeah, it's cool.

JT Service: [00:41:37]

That's a great answer.

David Monico: [00:41:38]

Yeah. I've worked events, throughout the years. and there's some cool stuff that I've seen on the elite side and, Pittsburgh merit, the Dick's sporting goods. Pittsburgh marathon has been a big, A client of mine over the years as well. I went out there, once or twice, almost every single year.
really developed a fond relationship just with the city of Pittsburgh. Loved that place. And there's been some cool things there, you know, even the runners like, well, let me back up, they got 7,000 kids doing their kids' race. Wow. And so you get like the mascots, you get some of the pro athletes out there.
And it's just one of those examples where you're like, man running is so powerful. Like it's so cool.

JT Service: [00:42:19]

Yeah. But I think what you're even describing is an event company that we really respect. There too. Like they have a very similar ethos to what we do in the Bay. Yeah. led by, Trey school choice school.
We right now and Caroline on the partnership side and the fact that I know these people and I know where their heart is and that they're, they're deep in the community throughout the entire year. That doesn't surprise me at all. Of course their community loves them. Like it's not just about us. It's a bigger, it's bigger.
It's it's, it's the run community in general, at least the ones doing it. Right.

Kevin Chang: [00:42:52]

Well, talk to us a little bit about some of the new ventures that you guys have kind of on the docket. Obviously you launched the new podcast, which I am a huge proponent of. I've been listening to every single episode. They are awesome.

JT Service: [00:43:04]

I mean, you're the one, you're the one

Kevin Chang: [00:43:05]

person that one guy, one guy wait for your review. But talk to me a little bit about that. Obviously run local. Whoa. So focused is kind of has diversified their, their business assets and you focused on a lot of different things. That's probably one of the reasons why you can have 12 full time employees and still too.
So, so walk us through, some of the other things that you guys are doing at this time, that aren't just the run local events. what else do you have in the pipeline? What else is going on?

JT Service: [00:43:38]

Yeah, I'm going to let Dave answer some of that, that piece, especially because he's leading some of that marketing charge, but I think COVID, it just was a nice slap in the face, like a good slap on the ass and be like, you know what?
You can't do the same things as you did yesterday. So we have this ethos, we have this message of run local. Why not tell other people and utilize these other forms of communication to spread that word and to get it out there and other forms. So, I mean, Dave, can you speak to, I mean, what you're saying. We were dabbling in these things, but not like we are now.

David Monico: [00:44:12]

Yeah. It's a, you know, speaking to the story piece, it's, we're trying to figure out and rolling out some things to tell a story between all the events and like what run local is. I think even pre COVID, it was very event by event and we had represent running and there was a website for it. Excuse me. But we never had thousands of people going to run local events.com like we do now.
And so being able to tell that story, you know, having merged, you know, that's new the podcast, we're doing YouTube fitness workouts with Katie. We runs our customer service. She's also a certified personal trainer. Like she's the one literally answering every single email. so I think we were scratching the surface.
with coronavirus in terms of like how our team pivoted and started doing all these new things. We're looking at how we can incorporate the communities and the people who really like have our back a month to month, year in, year out. How do we create an experience for them that runs all year long, that incorporates all the events

JT Service: [00:45:19]

and training I think too, and, and their motivation.
And, you know, we're almost like taking little pieces from this California cause 500 and we're like, how can we implement this? throughout. So I think that does dovetail honestly, into what's next, you know there's. Yeah. And I think it's creating more family, more community, more team amongst the entire run local network.
So that you're not only getting information from it. You're supporting businesses that are supporting it. You're wearing the gear, you're listening to podcasts, seeing videos, and it really develops into a lifestyle, which is what I've kind of envisioned with run local, for years, which is it's not just running, running.
It's just the one common denominator that we share, but it's going into supporting local business, education, kids, fitness. entertainment, you know, like, and people feeling like they're connected and they have a family in the Bay area. And even if they don't live here like that, they have that they're part of something.
and something that I think you've done, you know, through RaceMob, and you've done through to legit and we're, we're taking notes, but we want to do it on a massive scale to make people like, feel the love.

David Monico: [00:46:26]

Yeah. There might be a new event or two as well

JT Service: [00:46:30]

down the pipeline. When

David Monico: [00:46:31]

we get, when we get out, it's

JT Service: [00:46:33]

going to be sick.
I can't wait to tell them.

Kevin Chang: [00:46:37]

And, and JTA, I mean, I know that you're a great follow on Twitter. I follow you on both Twitter and Instagram. you've talked a lot about not only, but leadership, I guess, within run local, but being a leader within the community. And you know, obviously we're going through a lot of tough times these days.
You know, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of other things. I think you posted an amazing picture of your parents on their porch, during the black lives matter movement and everything. Can you, can you talk a little, little bit about what's running through your head kind of during this time?

JT Service: [00:47:07]

Sure. I think it comes down to some principles and a lot of them are, are leading with love.
And if that's, you know, where I come from it, my mother was a, an educator for 40 plus years, my dad and educator, and a coach, and two people that have been, you know, in their communities leading with love, regardless of skin, color, skin, color, ethnicity, background, whatever it is, my mom works still to, close the achievement gap, between people of color or in, other other communities right now on an educational front.
So when you're. When you're faced with that every single night at the dinner table for the first 20 years of your life or whatever it is, it's not, it hits home when you start to see it out in the streets. And you're like, Oh my gosh, not everybody's thinking about fixing these problems the way we are. I have since been protesting some, my parents can't protest.
So we invented a thing for them called porch protest and fry, everyone to check it out on Instagram, where it's like people over 70 years old, like make your sign and we're going to put it up on Instagram. So at porch protest, hashtag porch protest. but for me, it's, it was frustrating. First. I think I even put a video up on Instagram where I'm like F this F that.
You know, in terms of like the racism that was like, you know, just angering you and coach you. I can't even imagine like what you felt at that time, but then it turns into what are we going to do? Black. Let's get down to business let's and, and for me, it's it's action oriented now. and we couldn't as a company.
Answer that question immediately. And what I really loved about our company is how meaningful they made it to not come out with a statement right away and just put up a black square on their Instagram page and not say anything or do anything else with it. Cause I think there's a whole lot of lip service in that way.
So we became, I think very definitive in that we started educating internally. We've got a history professor on our staff, just in Coburn. that teaches a race in America class. Yeah. He basically took us to school, as a, as a company, in terms of videos to watch books that we were almost forced to read.
You can read wherever you want, but suggested reading inside sole focus and run local events. That started number one, two is what we're going to do about it. And that's where we saw eight. Can't wait. this is a campaign zero, a nonprofit started by DeRay. If you've ever heard pod save the people to raise the gun.
And we were able to get in touch with him and we started a CA a connection with a can't wait, what's your eight different policies that police departments can make all across the country that are gonna make our entire community safer. So we've raised, I don't know, $5,000 or something for them. through the California coast 500.
So the key was like, all right, fine. Be frustrated first, but two you're getting educated and you're gonna take that energy and that frustration and put it into something powerful. And three was, what is that powerful? and that, that turned into, Hey, can't wait. And we're, I don't, we're in this for the long haul.
Like this is, we're not, we're not stopping just because this is a hot button issue. This is like, we're, we're going to try to find ways to make running more egalitarian, bring more people to this sport. like our boy, mr. Hooked on fitness, whose kids, boys in the woods, Earl hooks, like I want to make that a reality and big ass charity.
So. Dave am I, I see, I get all fired up. When you get me talking about this stuff, is that a good way to describe our, our company's, action plan for, for black lives matter?

David Monico: [00:50:22]

Yeah, no, that that's perfect. And that's one of the things we've been challenged ourselves with is like, how do we make this a longterm solution?
Everything from like, can we turn our volunteer network to support like polling places that

JT Service: [00:50:34]

are underserved?

David Monico: [00:50:35]

You know, to, you know, how do we make our community safe so that everyone can run at night? you know, you accomplish that. You probably accomplish a whole host of other things as well. and that's just scratching the surface.
We still have to have a lot of conversations. We got to meet with a lot of people, figure out what the right things to do are. so it's, yeah, there's a lot of passion, I think with a lot of us, if not all of us on staff here. and that's, cause again, it goes back to what I mentioned earlier, where it's like, we know our community deserves that like they expect us, like we expect ourselves to do something more.
so why would

Bertrand Newson: [00:51:13]

let's see a runner myself?

JT Service: [00:51:17]


Bertrand Newson: [00:51:17]

250 300 races complete under the belt and all those races. I circle back to a run local event because something, you talked about JT, with, Joe. Well, and that, that aha moment, that aha moment is responsible for the most cherished moment. Myself as a runner has experienced because my father.

JT Service: [00:51:43]

two, three years,

Bertrand Newson: [00:51:44]

participated in the middle of track mile. Yeah. and as a son of someone who served 23 years in the service, running in the 408k, approaching that point where your father's in full uniform.

JT Service: [00:52:00]

You look good too, could one thing

Bertrand Newson: [00:52:03]

I need, but just the pride and how much love our community gave someone who served our country and sacrificed so much for our freedom.
Profound for him. And still some of his most prized times being around, people in the Bay area, he still talks about it every time. Son when's that event back out there so far. Obviously he wasn't able to get out there this past year, but. Thank you for that opportunity. and certainly my family is forever grateful.

JT Service: [00:52:31]

That's one local rocks. I love it. We got to have him back out. Well, I'll be back 2021. Yep. Make Mo or those moments we will.

Kevin Chang: [00:52:39]

I think with that, I think Jason, you have to

JT Service: [00:52:42]

leave. I wish I could talk longer.

Kevin Chang: [00:52:44]

I just want to say, yeah. I mean, we just want to say. Thank you guys so much for jumping on this podcast with us.
We really appreciate all of your leadership, not only within the race community, but within our community as well. you know, we're so thankful to have you guys here and for us to be able to partner and be friends like this, it means the world to us. So thank you guys so much for

JT Service: [00:53:06]

being here. Thanks for having us.
And thanks for having, you know, it's so fun for me to, to put the light on, on people like Dave Monica, who are really creating some of this stuff behind the scenes. I think often too often, my face is associated with all 20 million things we're doing. And it's like, I don't even know what's I don't even know what you're talking about.
I haven't worked with that client in a year. and people like Dave or. Or really making magic happen. So thanks for letting us both on. Yeah. Thanks guys.

Kevin Chang: [00:53:31]

Well, I hope you enjoyed this episode of the RaceMob podcast. Getting a peek behind the curtain at one of the most innovative sports production companies in the country.
You can find all the show notes online at dot com slash podcast, where we'll have links to run local events and JT's famous Instagram accounts. Plus we regularly partner with run local on giveaways and discounts. So sign up for our email list so that you don't miss out. Please subscribe to us on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts until next time we're out.