Tips for Triathletes and Operating Live Races with CEO of Negative Split Ryan Hite

Tips for Triathletes and Operating Live Races with CEO of Negative Split Ryan Hite


We had a great conversation this week with the Chief Endurance Officer of Negative split - Ryan Hite.

In this episode, your going to learn how he got into triathlons - a bit by accident. And why his third race was an IronMan - plus the lessons he learned through that experience.

You'll also learn how Ryan and his wife created a tremendously successful race organization that operates races throughout the Pacific Northwest, and actually around the world. How he was able to keep live races going during the pandemic. And, what changes he forsees for races going forward.

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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.

### Guest Quote

Ryan Hite: [00:00:00]

And you know, these businesses, the trickle down effect of races not happening goes a long ways. You know, if a race doesn't happen, it's, it's hard on that organization.    The nonprofits that are receiving funds from these things, they're struggling, the companies produce and shirts produce and medals.
The events in our country are really important. They're a big part of the financial puzzle    and, people getting back out there and testing them out, trying to get back out there and go out and on a race, I think is huge for trying to    install confidence back in the industry and let people know that it can happen safely.   
### Episode Intro

Kevin Chang: [00:00:38]

Hello and welcome to the RaceMob podcast. This is episode number 47.
I'm Kevin entrepreneur technology and fitness nerd, and I'm joined by the head coach of RaceMob and master motivator, the incomparable Bertrand Newson.
### Guest Introduction [00:00:52]
We had a great conversation this week with chief endurance officer of negative split Ryan height. In this episode, you're going to learn how he got into triathlons a bit by accident and why his third race was an iron man. Plus the lessons he learned throughout that entire experience.
You'll also learn how Ryan and his wife created a tremendously successful race organization that operates races throughout the Pacific Northwest    and how he's actually operated races across the world.
You're also gonna learn how he was able to keep live races going during the pandemic and what changes he foresees for races going forward. All of the show notes can be found online at RaceMob.com/podcast and without further ado here's our conversation.
### Start of the Interview

Bertrand Newson: [00:01:37]

Hello, RaceMob family. You're in for a real treat today. Ryan Hite, chief endurance, officer of negative split racing. Yes. Live events being produced during the pandemic. One of the very few operators in 2020 to be able to do that. Also an athlete himself operating events in , oregon . Idaho state of Washington and the, like

Ryan Hite: [00:01:58]

You got it. Upper left USA.

Bertrand Newson: [00:02:00]

Awesome. Fantastic. So looking forward to this conversation. Welcome to the RaceMob podcast, Ryan.

Ryan Hite: [00:02:06]

Hey, thanks for having me. You guys great to be here.
### Ryan's Origin Story

Bertrand Newson: [00:02:08]

so let's go ahead and dig right in let's first talk about Ryan.

Ryan Hite: [00:02:15]

You're going to make me put on my glory days.

Bertrand Newson: [00:02:17]


Ryan Hite: [00:02:19]

I would say, you know, growing up, I was always an active person and, uh, you know, always involved in sports and that kind of got bit by the endurance itch in college. And, you know, it's probably about, I think it was my sophomore, junior year in college. Um, you know, I saw this kind of a great endurance feat called an iron man.
Some reason I became one of those crazy people that started to chase that dream a little bit. So I think I did two iron mans in college and I've done six total, you know, it's kind of, one of those bugs is just a little contagious and did them all up in Coeur d'Alene Idaho and spent a lot of fun.
Eventually, uh, had three kids and my days of. 30 to 40 hour training weeks have suddenly, sudden disappeared. So here I am, you know, back to doing five Ks, 10 Ks and half marathon kind of guy. So,

Bertrand Newson: [00:03:07]

### Getting into Triathlon [00:03:07]

Kevin Chang: [00:03:07]

Were you a swimmer beforehand? Bicyclists? How'd you get in? So you triathlons.

Ryan Hite: [00:03:12]

You know, as a soccer player growing up, I wouldn't classify myself as any of those three things, a swimmer, a cyclist or a runner, but somehow, you know, I don't know.
Maybe that's what makes triathlon unique is that, you know, you don't have to be the best at any one of those things, but you can combine it to come up with kind of a cool sport and, you know, you can take mediocrity across the board and does decent, so.

Kevin Chang: [00:03:33]

I mean, we, we've had a number of soccer players on here and it seems to me that soccer players have great endurance are    used to running and sprinting and    conserving energy and doing all that stuff. So usually make for great endurance athletes. But let me ask you, , how did you get into the swimming and bicycling part? For me, that's always been the curious part of how do people get into triathlons. Usually you might have to join a local club to help coach you up.
Those seems like, very difficult skills too, to be able to learn.

Ryan Hite: [00:04:02]

It's funny. When I say I started out kind of in the triathlon world, I should say, I started out with kind of this idea of maybe training for a marathon. And, you know, as any marathon runner is experienced at one way along the line or the other, you get injured, right?
And so then I started trying to swim and. Bicycle and things kind of cross train and mix it up. And it helped me to stay more injury free. And then I'm like, wait a minute, this is a sport you can swim, you can bike, you can run, you don't have to be injured. So, uh, that's kinda where that came into.
But yeah, I mean, I had no business being in a pool to start with. I joined a, , a master swim team. In college and, you know, so I'm, you know, 20 year old guy in there with a bunch of 50 year olds in Speedos. And, uh, I learned to swim though, you know, so I think just the group side of that is so important.
I think for people getting into the sport, like when you can surround yourself with people and coaches and people that have been a part of it industry in that sport, it makes a big difference. Uh, you know, it takes the edge of the learning curve off for sure.

Bertrand Newson: [00:05:02]

At any point during your startup days, so to speak. In the travel space. Did you retain a coach?

Ryan Hite: [00:05:08]

Well, I had a swim coach as part of kind of our masters swim group, but I can't say I had a specific like triathlon coach for me personally, but it was more, I guess, sports specifically, the swimming was the part where I felt like I would drown if I didn't have one, so.
### Breaking Down a Thriathlon [00:05:23]

Bertrand Newson: [00:05:23]

And Ryan, if you could, I mean, it's not, you're, you're not bragging. We know when you say you've done six. Complete full one 40.6, correct? Total cumin of distance. Just give us the breakdown for our audience on what those different segments are. The swim portion, the bike portion and the run portion.

Ryan Hite: [00:05:40]

Yeah. So it's a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and then a marathon to finish the day.
So 26 miles at the end of it.

Kevin Chang: [00:05:51]

Do you have a best time?
Best time. It was, you know, I'd have to dig through the archives. It was right about 1120. So you know, it wasn't a Hawaii qualifying kind of guy, but it was.
### Ryan's Favourite Race Moment
That's fantastic. Yeah, absolutely. Favorite race or favorite race moment?

Ryan Hite: [00:06:07]

The first crossing of the first finish line.
I mean, I just don't know that you can really beat that particular moment, but, and then, you know, the day is we catching PRs. Those are always big highlights, but for me it always comes back the first finish. You just really can't describe that. So, and then there's all sorts of funny and entertaining moments along the way, so.
### Becoming and Endurance Athlete

Kevin Chang: [00:06:27]

I can only imagine. Did you run in races before your first Ironman? Did you do other things kind of leading up to that event? What was your kind of entry point into insurance?

Ryan Hite: [00:06:37]

I don't know if my story is completely normal in that regard, but you know, I think I did a sprint distance triathlon and then had done a half marathon and said, why not?
Let's go, go and go for the big one. So that's kind of how I got into it. Maybe it's because if I had done much more than that, I would have said, this is a terrible idea and I wouldn't have done it, but yeah. So that for me, I just kind of went all in with it.
### First Iron Man Experience [00:07:00]

Kevin Chang: [00:07:00]

And your first iron man, , was it smooth sailing? Did you hit a wall? How, how did that first one go?

Ryan Hite: [00:07:06]

Yeah, lots of walls. I mean, I think there was a wall on the swim course. There was a wall and then the bike and a wall on the run. Yeah, for me, , I'm a bigger endurance athlete, , and hydration and nutrition was like that fourth sport that took me a while to really wrap my head around that and what that meant for me.
And you hear it all the time. It's such an individual and nutrition needs and what that is, but it's so true, you know, I didn't fuel correctly, hydrate correctly and, you know, I account for electrolyte loss as much as I should have in those first couple of years. And as I started to dial that in more, my times naturally got faster.
I don't know that it was because I was a faster runner, a faster cyclist or swimmer, but I just managed my race so much better. , as    I got more experience, so.   

Kevin Chang: [00:07:50]

Any hydration and nutrition tips that our audience could take away? Anything that has worked for you?

Ryan Hite: [00:07:56]

Yeah. I mean, somebody told it to me, you know, way back in the day is that if it works in training, it might work during the race. And I think that is such a true statement that,    everybody says it, try your stuff out during training, try your stuff out during training.
But I can't underestimate that, you know? You really have to test those different products and tested on similar like courses under similar like conditions. One of the challenges we face up here in the Pacific Northwest is, you know, we could be having snow on the ground up until early, you know, early April or into March.
And. Quarterly and Ironman was in June. Sometimes we'd see, 90 degree temperatures in June. So, you know, that's such a shift when you're getting a bulk of your training is happening below 50, 60 degrees. And then all of a sudden, boom, you're at 90 degrees. When you hit June, that's a real tough thing, to practice those nutrition concepts in similar race-like conditions.
And so. There was always like, you know, my last couple of big, long weekends of training was when I would really try to hone that in. It really did take me years of figuring out because of that. I didn't have, you know, six months of training under similar conditions. I had a month before the race to try to really hone that in.
And, you know, over the course of years, we really got it dialed in, but. That is definitely something to consider.

Kevin Chang: [00:09:14]

What was the first thing that you started to tweak? Was it just more salt intake or saltier beverages or different types of gels or different types of food?

Ryan Hite: [00:09:23]

For me, I'm a really salty sweater. So I started experimenting with. Electrolyte tablets and those sorts of things. The other thing too, is the timing of it for me, you know, triathlon is a challenging sport in that, in an iron man, you're in the water for 2.4 miles. You're not drinking unless it's by accident in the water.
So essentially an hour, hour and a half, depending on how fast you are, two hours behind on your nutrition. When you start the bike. And so a lot of people it's like, okay, well now I got to make up for that. And you start guzzling on the bike. And then all of a sudden, you know, your gut starts turning over because you got too much fluid in too much nutrition intake out of the gate.
So that was what I had struggled with initially was. I would get out of the swam and I was consuming, I think too much in that first hour on the bike. And for me, you know, rather than just open the flood gates, it was better to kind of slowly catch up on that intake over a couple hours on the bike, rather than just trying to play catch up in the first 30 to 60 minutes.
And that really made a difference for me and how my gut felt, and then being able to digest that and really get that nutrition to the muscles that needed it.     

Bertrand Newson: [00:10:33]

Great advice. Um, you know, we have several triathletes that we work with as clients. And two of them are training for their very first full Ironman. They have completed half Ironman before in the rest, so they do have some experience, but you've touched on some key points in hydration, nutrition.
### Training Tips
Are there any other training takeaways on the bike, swim or run that you may want to share with our audience as well?

Ryan Hite: [00:10:56]

Again, I think triathlon, it's just a different sport than swimming alone, cycling alone.
You know, or running alone in that. And maybe this is just my lack of training, but for me, there was never a point through the day where I was trying to push.
You know, when you're out there on a triathlon, you're trying to manage your race and keep your intensity lower and keep your heart rate lower during the race, because you know, when you're done with that bike, you still have to go out and run.
And in the case of an iron man, you still have to go out and run a marathon. You know, there was no point in that day where I'm like, okay, this is the time to crank it up and let's go for it. It was always no conserve keep the heart rate low, you know, keep it within limits.
And that really, I think was key to where, you know, as I started to do more of these, I was really able to run the whole way through the marathon, rather than, you know, you run a couple miles off the bike and then all of a sudden you're just, legs are cramping and shot and you're playing the walk-jog the rest of the way home.
So I think that was key was trying to set some limits and stay within those lines.

Starting a Run Events Company

Bertrand Newson: [00:11:57]

Thank you. Now, how do you go from accomplish endurance athlete to navigating and operating a successful event, production company.

Ryan Hite: [00:12:07]

This comment a lot, but just one bad decision after another kind of led to it. So my wife is a, she's always been an endurance athlete.
She was cross country runner in college. You know, marathon runner and, you know, it was just kind of really a few dinner conversations. Like, you know what, why don't we try to put one of these on like, we both love to do them. Let's see what it's like to put the hat on the other way and try to be a race director for it.
So we tried our first half marathon in 2013 and we had, we barely touched to about 400 runners on our first race. So that was kind of the very first negative split event was a, you know, 400 person, half marathon.
And I think I had taken like my, my Ironman hat and kind of put that into the running events world. And I'm like, you know, we want to do this thing full on, you know, catered with all the goodies and the swag bags and everything. And we definitely didn't make money in that first race. I think we lost our shorts on it.
But because of that mindset, though, our, our mindset has always been to create a really good quality product and try to continue to replicate that.
And so even from year one, even though it was a, you know, what would be considered probably not a financial success. I think it was a success in the fact that, you know, we really did try to provide a really great experience to the runners. And we've just, again, year after year, tried to build upon that.   
### Getting Started [00:13:29]

Kevin Chang: [00:13:30]

I'm sure. A lot goes into the initial planning of a race.    all the regulations that go into it, all the overhead costs. The swag, the material, the marketing of it. I mean, how long was the planning process? Where did you even have to start? How did you go from this idea or concept into the actual creation of this race?

Ryan Hite: [00:13:52]

You know, I think just from being around the industry, I'd had a few contacts in the industry to be able to kind of pick their brains a little bit, but yeah, it is it's for me, I'm kind of a list guy, you know?
So I, I gotta make my list of what's in front of me and what I got to do and that really, I think was the most helpful piece of doing this for the first time was creating that big list of, okay, I got to figure out my t-shirt order, my metal order, you know, my permits and insurance and you know, all those other things that go into it.
And you know, when you really start to lay it out on paper, then I think it is daunting, but it becomes doable because I can start, you know, visually seeing something to check it off. And that, that was helpful for me.

Kevin Chang: [00:14:30]

How did you get 400 to that initial race?

Ryan Hite: [00:14:33]

I have 400 friends at the time, I persuaded them all to come over.
We've had a pretty good connection with our, our local, like kind of, uh, health gyms and fitness classes and things like that. And so we did a lot of what I would call guerilla marketing and just kind of beat the streets and, you know, tried to post or anywhere we could send emails out to people and get them to send emails out on our behalf.
But yeah, it was very just grassroots to start with. And that's really where most of those came from.

Bertrand Newson: [00:15:03]

And how did you navigate competition in the same space? I mean, we've had that here in California when you every other week and you have multiple events going on, how were you able to, you know, being a startup in 2013 with already established entities.

Ryan Hite: [00:15:15] Yeah, that's definitely a challenge. There were no races in our community on 4th of July weekend. So we picked 4th of July weekend and that was probably not a great move in hindsight, but we knew it wouldn't compete with anything.

So that was kind of our initial segue into it. You know, we tried that for two years and we just couldn't get our numbers up beyond 400. So we were at 400 in year one and we were at 400 in year two. Eventually we kind of made a move and we shifted that race. That's now our, uh, our split half marathon that we just did this last weekend.
And so we had shifted it to April and. Literally on a year three, we went from that 400 Mark to like seven or 800. It almost like doubled in numbers just by moving it to a, and that was kind of how initially having entered the market we tried to find a place where we weren't competing and then we ended up moving that race and we found a better spot.
You know, some other races started shuffling calendars and we felt like there was an opportunity to jump into April and it worked for us.
### Growing the Event [00:16:12]

Kevin Chang: [00:16:12]

alk to us a little bit about growing the race. So what did you learn from that first experience? And then how did you apply that to your next one? I'm sure you couldn't just continue to lose your shorts on every single day. So, so you must have learned something from race to race.

Ryan Hite: [00:16:27]

Yeah, for sure. You know, I think one of the things that you get better at finding ways to reduce your costs, you know, finding better quality products at cheaper prices. So, you know, where we were getting our metals from and shirts from and those sorts of things.
So we started to fine tune where we were spending some of those dollars in it. We also started to find out, you know, I said in year one, we gave them that the Ironman catered experience. And we started to fine tune that a little bit, you know, what was necessary, what wasn't necessary. We did a lot of post-trade surveys to kind of find out from our runners, what they really liked and you know, what maybe was missing, and, uh, that really helped guide our decisions moving forward.
And,    I think    it was year two or year three. We started doing some training groups. Along with our race and somehow a buddy of mine. And I, we got the bright idea that, you know, we should do these training groups at night after people got off work and we're going to hand out little glow sticks so everybody gets a glow stick or go run through the park.
And we have more people in our training groups than we almost had in our race. Uh, we have like 400 people showing up to these nighttime runs. Wow. Just handing out glow sticks. And it was like we did on, uh, I think it was the first, like the first Tuesday of every month and we'd do these glow mobs is what we call them.
And, uh, it was fantastic. It was one of the best, like just grassroots PR things that we had done for our races. And that really helped kind of launch that race up to the next level. And that spurred us to find our second race because we thought, you know, if we can do glow stick training runs at 400 people, we ought to be able to do a race with more than that.
Then we put in our first fall race. And, , we started doing some glow in the dark, , 5k runs, which, , that eventually led itself into a nice, , military contract where we were doing , some races for the military and doing glow in the dark rounds for the military too. That was kind of a version 2.0 of, of negative split events was, you know, getting into the glow run scene and adding some of these other races and some military events too, which was a lot of fun.

Bertrand Newson: [00:18:30]

### Planning Courses and Navigating Bureaucracy

Kevin Chang: [00:18:31]

It's just a little bit about courses, course layouts. How did you decide between trail runs and road runs?
I know that road runs usually need more permits trail runs. Maybe there's more on the insurance side or other things. Talk to us a little bit about it.

Ryan Hite: [00:18:45]

You know, initially we decided to tackle more of the road runs because we felt like there's a bigger market there. You know, there's just, there's more runners that are interested in, in road races just as you look at the general data across the country.
And so we thought,    our best way into this is going where there there's a bigger audience to come to our races. So we started doing , a lot of road races.
Interestingly enough, though. And I'm probably jumping ahead on us, but. For 2021, we've added a whole, what we're calling our back to nature series, which is    a three part series of trail runs for exactly.
The reason you're talking is because permits are hard to come by right now because of COVID. So we said, okay, we're going to go do some trail runs like up on these ski mountains or different, like. Private owned land were easy to pull the permit. You know, we just have one business or one ski mountain to get permission through.
And there's tons of space out there on the mountain to distance people. You know, also looking at, if you look at like RV sales and some of that kind of stuff from 2020, I mean, it's off the charts. People want to get outside and get out.
And so we felt like this was a way to win, to go, you know, start doing more trail run courses in this time where people can get outside, stay distant, easier for permits and then deal with the logistics    out there on the trail run course.
So, yeah. Interesting that you brought that up because. Initially, we very much started in the road racing world. And just in the last six months, we've really made a pivot, adding a bunch of trail run series for COVID reasons.

Kevin Chang: [00:20:14]

That's so interesting. Yeah. And we've, we've kind of seen a pivot just in the macro market.
A lot more trail running is becoming much more popular. As you mentioned during the pandemic, a lot more people are exploring nature . The permits are especially    difficult to pull these days with,    the policing of burrows, closing down roads, all of that stuff,

Ryan Hite: [00:20:33]

I'm not trying to get political on this but we've seen up here in the Pacific Northwest, like in Seattle markets and Portland markets, they can't do permits for races because they can't put police for traffic control.
So the challenges with the various defund, the police movements and those sorts of things have really led to some challenges in those cities. And I'm sure they're not the only ones, uh, with, you know, traffic control for races, you know.
As much as police do their normal day-to-day stuff, one of the jobs that police do a lot of times for us is helping them, you know, staff road crossings and those sorts of things. And so it it's been a real challenge to find ways to do road races without police support.
So more to come on that I think, you know, as we go through the next six months to a year, I think we're going to. Start to see a light at the end of the tunnel on that. But right now it's a real challenge with some of those cities.   

Kevin Chang: [00:21:25]

If you like our podcast and sign up for our newsletter, where we give you weekly tips on how to run your best race and have fun in the process. Just go to RaceMob dot com and sign up today.   
### Navigating the Pandemic

Bertrand Newson: [00:21:36]

Ryan, let's drill down a little bit more, um, as we talk about the, the obvious: the pandemic.
You are one of the very few event production businesses in 2020 to be able to have live races. And I participated in one in September of last year and had a great time by the way.

Ryan Hite: [00:21:53]


Bertrand Newson: [00:21:53]

But as a participant. For me, I had to vet the organizer, had to do a little bit of research and seeing, you know, is this a fly by night company? No negative split is not a fly by night company. You've been in the market for a long time.
Um, you had produced other socially distance COVID protocol events, um, which was great. And I'm sure there were a lot of other event, race directors who would've loved to be able to navigate through them in local municipalities. The ability to put something on, how were you able to successfully do that? In these trying times?

Ryan Hite: [00:22:26]

For us, it was like from the very onset of the pandemic, , we were working a ton of hours trying to come up with COVID plans. And I can't tell you how many version one version, two version three version, 107 of COVID plans that we produced last year. , trying to come up with one that would work, and it seemed like the rules were constantly changing, so we'd constantly make new plans.
But it was, it really was a lot of communication back and forth between our permitting officials and really, you know, our health organizations, health departments were the primary ones that we were just having a ton of conversation with and trying to kind of vet these different strategies.
You know, would this work for water stations? Would this work for the flow of our start line and finish line shoots and just really coming up with those strategies? And, you know, after we had had a bunch of these conversations, I think they also started to get more confident too, in that, you know, we're not just trying to we'll head our way through this, but we really are trying to make some good conscious decisions for the greater good of our community for the public, for our runners. And, you know, w we want to see this happen, but happens safely.
But yeah, communication, I think was the number one reason that we were successful in it last year.

Kevin Chang: [00:23:38]

Talk to us a little bit about how many races you put on throughout the pandemic and    number of participants in some of those races.

Ryan Hite: [00:23:45]

We started with one in July, so we did our very first live hybrid race.
Was in the middle of July last year and we've kept, we called it our negative split 100. We were going to cap it at 100 runners. I could only sell 60 spots. Like I couldn't even get a hundred people to register, you know, but for us it was huge that we had 60 runners willing to take a chance on us, and come out and run this race.
And, you know, I think we had five people, every five minutes go through our start shoot. It was very distant, but it allowed us an opportunity to capture, you know, video footage, photos, capturephotos of our event, signage and the flow.
So then we could take this information and take it back to the permitting authorities to the health departments say, this is what it looked like, and this is what it looked like with a volume of five people every five minutes.
And that's our plan moving forward through fall. We don't want to do anything else. We just want to, if you'll let us do five people, every five minutes, we'll figure out the rest. And so, you know, are you okay with what happened here?
And can we, you know, expand that out for the fall? And that was the start of, then we had quarterly and marathon and August. We did our Windermere marathon in September, which Coach "B" you were up there for that one. And then, uh, we had the split half marathon happened at the end of September and we did a Turkey Trot.
And that was really the extent of our races for last year. And some of those. Our first couple of races, because we had such a volume of runners that were signed up for these races. So the quarterly marathon winner marathon and the split, those all have registration open before the pandemic hit. And we shifted those dates into the fall.
So we had, you know, a thousand, 1500 runners signed up for each one of those races. You know, at some of those circumstances, we made them three-day events. We had them Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and people self-selected start waves and it was a long weekend, but it was wonderful to see runners back out there and running with us.
### Challenges and Obstacles

Bertrand Newson: [00:25:44]

And Ryan, thank you for sharing that kind of take us behind the scenes and some of the growing pains, the things that, , the everyday runner may not know that a race director and his support team goes through in pulling off a event in normal times that alone a pandemic.

Ryan Hite: [00:25:58]

Well, there's, there's always, I mean, events by the nature of events, just, there's always something that starts to go sideways.
And I always say we want to be like a duck underwater. Right? I don't    care if like, you know, we're scrambling a little bit, as long as our feathers look good on time. Yeah, no, that's all right. We, we don't mind little hiccups and things happening here. As long as the runners would never know the difference.
So, and luckily, I mean, we are surrounded by a fantastic team. They do wonderful things on, on restate and make things happen for all the, all the runners that, you know, lets it go off without a hitch. But yeah, I mean, so Windermere marathon even last year with 50 mile an hour, wind gusts hit us on that Monday.
So this was a Saturday, Sunday, Monday race. I can't remember. You must have ran. I think you ran on Sunday. Yes. Yeah. So Monday we have this windstorm from, I don't even know where it comes in and we were looking at the forecast thinking, you know, we might be okay. And, uh, we had, you know, start line arches and that kind of stuff up to start with.
And it was like the wind just kind of kept getting a little more, a little more throughout the morning. And it was probably about 10 o'clock in the morning, we felt one guests come through. And it knocked over fencing knocked an our out. So it was like, we're not in Kansas anymore. It was like that down the hatches.
Literally the only thing we had left up at that point, I think it was our timing maps because it just wasn't safe to have some of the other stuff. So, I mean, but those are the kinds of things that, you know, every event has its own challenges.      We just timed to race down in Portland, a couple months back, they had that an inch of freezing rain on the course trees down on the course.
So I mean, weather, I guess we'll say weather can be one of the ones, the things that gets very challenging to predict, and you know, you always have to have backup plans for what's going on. So those, those are some of the things, even in non COVID times that probably present as challenges for a race director.
### The Role of the Run Community
###### Bertrand Newson: [00:27:49]
How can we, Ryan, the running community running clubs, best support, local, independent running organizations, such as yourself in these times.

Ryan Hite: [00:28:00]

Yeah. You know, in these times I think the biggest thing is getting back out there, you know, is our industry starts to feel safe and feel confident that these events can happen again more and more events are going to start to happen and they're going to happen safely.
And you know, these businesses, the trickle down effect of races not happening goes a long ways. You know, if a race doesn't happen, it's, it's hard on that organization.    The nonprofits that are receiving funds from these things, they're struggling, the companies produce and shirts produce and medals.
The events in our country are really important. They're a big part of the financial puzzle    and, people getting back out there and testing them out, trying to get back out there and go out and on a race, I think is huge for trying to    install confidence back in the industry and let people know that it can happen safely.

Bertrand Newson: [00:28:51]

You've given some fantastic advice, right. You know, as triathletes getting into the race event business.
### Tips for Event Producers [00:28:59]
What advice would you give those race directors that are listening right now that have had to shutter for, you know, maybe the second half of 2020 and are now in discussions with their local municipalities?

Ryan Hite: [00:29:10]

One of the things that I found ourselves doing last year was always trying to predict.
Okay, here's where we're at now but I think when we have the race, we might be able to do this number of runners and we might be able to do water stations this way. We might be able to do gear check and we... We found ourselves continually trying to predict, and we found ourselves continually doing it poorly.
And so I think one of the best things you can do as a race director in planning during COVID times is plan for what's happening now. Make your race plan for the current state as if nothing else opens up from here and try to make plans based on that.
So, If you're in a state where everything is in virtual lockdown still, plan to do a two to three day, you know, one person every five minutes or whatever you need to do to kind of get that ball rolling. But don't plan for how we might be at, you know, 50 people every 20 minutes.
So I think that the best thing you can do is, is make that plan for today's worst case scenario. And then if you can do more great, but it's a lot easier to ramp things up than it is for planning big and having to scale back.
And I think I would rather you say, Oh great, we're bringing back post race food, or some merchandise or things like that, then saying you're going to have everything. And then all by the way, now we're just, we're turning this thing all the virtual.
### Practices to Keep for Future Events

Kevin Chang: [00:30:33]

Is there anything that you started to do because of the pandemic or started to invest in because of the pandemic that you think will continue once the pandemic actually ends.

Ryan Hite: [00:30:43]

Yeah, good question. It's funny. These like start waves and rolling starts from what we've found from our runners, they love them. We still have our small group of real competitive runners that want that like energy of the gun going off and, you know, racing feel as they take off. But for our average, everyday runner, they love the stress-free rolling start system.
And the way that we do our starts is we say, you know, you're going to start between 10 o'clock and 10:10 in the morning, and you can start anywhere in that window. And it's all based on chip time. So you don't have to wait for a gun to go off or anything like that. You literally just take off across the line sometime between 10 o'clock and 10, 10 in the morning.
And for them, it's like, I don't have the stress of trying to use the port-a-potty and get over to the start line. And there's not this hustle. So for our runner newbies and our. Average, everyday runners that aren't in there to, you know, break a world record. They love that low stress feeling of that start line.
So I think that we will continue some of that stuff in the future, uh, even as we get back to bigger masses.
### Online Races

Kevin Chang: [00:31:47]

What about online and virtual stuff? I know that you guys have a, a fairly robust online program, a couple of online challenges . Was that started because of the pandemic and what have you learned from that?

Ryan Hite: [00:31:58]

Yeah, you know, we really didn't do a whole lot of virtual run stuff before the pandemic. The pandemic forced us to do a lot of virtual stuff, and we learned a lot of, uh, a lot of good lessons out of that.
And we're seeing right now is we have registration open for live and virtual events, it's very much a lot of live registrations that come through for us, but we do still see a handful of virtual. And I think the audience too is slightly different for some of the virtual renters and some of the live runners.
A lot of those virtual runners are folks looking for challenges and incentives and some motivation. So we feel there's a niche for us to continue to offer that support to those runners and still be able to do live events.
We've also started to do some kids, challenge things with some of our races because of that too. So before we had, you know, you could sign up for the quarter lane marathon or the winter marathon, but now we have the kids challenge, which is, you know, they have to run 26 miles over the course of the month and then they too can earn the metal and the t-shirt.
So there's some cool challenges and things and, uh, virtual stuff that's coming out.
### Future Plans and Events

Bertrand Newson: [00:33:00]

And how does the future look? How's 2021 for negative split racing? You know what some of the events you'd like to, to showcase and share .

Ryan Hite: [00:33:08]

The future is brighter than 2020. Let's start with that. I think we can all agree there.
So, yeah, uh, coming up here in may, our, our winter marathon in Coeur d'Alene marathon, which I think, uh, Coach be, you might be coming up a rental with us again. Yeah. So we have those two events. That'll finish out our run, the PMW series.
And then in the summer, as I kind of alluded to earlier, we're diving into this back to nature series, which will be a lot of trail run events.
I'm really excited in June. Uh, we have our, the first time ever it's been run on is the Hiawatha trail. For those of you not in the Pacific Northwest, uh, this is one of the most iconic bike trails in the country. There's all these railroad tunnels that you get to ride through. And in this case, on this day, we're going to be running through it.
So one of the tunnels is 1.8 miles long.

Kevin Chang: [00:33:56]


Ryan Hite: [00:33:57]

Uh, headlamps required. It's a very nice compact. Gravel railroad grade. So just beautiful railroad Trestles that you're running over, where you're looking down 700 feet down below you. And, uh, these beautiful tunnels to run through waterfalls. It's going to be one of the most scenic events I think we've ever produced.
And so I'm really excited about that one coming up in June and that'll be the kickoff to our back nature series.

Bertrand Newson: [00:34:22]

And the distance Ryan?

Ryan Hite: [00:34:24]

So we have a four mile version, a 15 K, which is nine miles for those of you non metric folks. And then 25 K. Uh, which is, uh, 15 miles.
### Acquiring a Timing Company

Kevin Chang: [00:34:34]

And you mentioned that you had, um, acquired a timing company kind of in the midst of the pandemic. So I guess why did you decide to do that and what have you learned from that experience?

Ryan Hite: [00:34:45]

Tell you there's going to be a theme of bad decision after bad decision.

Bertrand Newson: [00:34:49]

You're doing our podcast, so that's a good decision, so.

Ryan Hite: [00:34:53]

Okay, fair enough, that might be the only decision that was made good today, it was joining this podcast.
Yeah. You know, we, uh, purchased the timing company, January of 2020, and we're all amped up and ready to go. We've got a whole calendar of races and then the pandemic hit in March.
So spent a bunch of time, energy and resources on getting this timing company up and running. And then the pandemic hit and, you know, we saw a 90% loss in sales from what we normally would have thought would have happened in 2020.
The saving grace on that though is I don't think there's really any other way. We could have pulled off what we did in 2020 without having timing in house for us, because we were timing events that were three days long with super long hours.
So if we didn't have our own timing systems, It would have cost us a fortune to hire a timer to come in and do that kind of stuff. So it was actually really nice in hindsight that we had done that because it gave us an extra tool in our tool belt to test out some different timing things and be able to test drive some of this before we got back into this really kind of strange time of live races at the second half of the year.

Kevin Chang: [00:36:03]

And are you starting to see a pickup in other producers coming back.

Ryan Hite: [00:36:09]

I think our last six months of 2021 is going to be really, really busy because we've seen some races shifting a little bit into like late summer and fall. So I think we're going to be really busy into the second half of the year.
Our first half of the year has been kind of a steady kind of increase, which is actually good because we're trying to train and onboard some new timers. And so it's a good opportunity for us to get some of those folks trained up and ready to time races for what I think is going to be a pretty, pretty crazy fall
### Events Overseas - Production and Logistics

Bertrand Newson: [00:36:38]

And , speaking of events, you've also organized events overseas,

Ryan Hite: [00:36:43]

Bad decisions again.

Bertrand Newson: [00:36:45]

But super cool, man, I mean, that has been, I mean, you're, you're doing multiple States. And overseas, I mean, maybe elaborate for our audience, some of the cool locations globally that you've produced events.

Ryan Hite: [00:36:56]

We've been pretty blessed to be a part of those, some of the military contracts and some of their events. And, you know, in 2019 we had a bunch of fun locations.
Uh, we were able to do an event over in Italy. Uh, we got to travel to Hawaii for an event, so. Some overseas, uh, events there and a lot of fun, but Holy smokes, you talk about like challenges of like producing a race in your own city. Try to produce one outside the country, you know, in a place where you just are unfamiliar with and in the customs requirements and some of those sorts of things.
That was a whole new set of learning hurdles for us. So, but a lot of fun.

Kevin Chang: [00:37:32]

Did you have to ship out a bunch of materials and the stuff that you had did you have to find local vendors for timing and other stuff? Like what, what are some of those challenges for going overseas?

Ryan Hite: [00:37:43]

You know, I don't know if we would do it this way again, but the way that we chose to do it. Was we shipped a lot of our own equipment over there. And, uh, we felt like, you know, for, for some of the events that we were doing, a lot of it was kind of some specialty things. And so it was in our mind, easier for us to ship that equipment over there, utilize our own staff and then ship it home.
So that's how we, uh, we did most of those, but. Yeah, there was, , but for our event over in Italy, I had to write an official letter of apology to the Italian government because I shipped an aerosol can of sunscreen. And that's a big no-no if you're trying to get aerosol sunscreen through customs and I didn't claim it apparently.
So, uh, hindsight, I got myself in a little bit of hot water, but, you know, I was able to get out of my sunscreen debacle.

Kevin Chang: [00:38:27]

Who would have known?

Ryan Hite: [00:38:28]

Yeah, exactly. I didn't know. I was like, man, I'm just trying to be health-conscious you know, so I get in trouble for my sunscreen.   
### Challenges Pre-Pandemic

Bertrand Newson: [00:38:37]

And Ryan, uh, above and beyond. The pandemic that we're still navigating through pre-pandemic. What were some challenges you felt that were facing the running industry and that    have been only further brought to the forefront?

Ryan Hite: [00:38:50]

Yeah, I mean, one of the challenges was just the number of events that were out there initially. Like you said, you know, down where you guys are at, you can look on any weekend, you can find five, six different events.
So it's a little bit of a challenge for race directors, race, production companies, non-profits to find how do I get people to come and participate in my event? You know, when there's so many races out here to choose from and, and what makes it stand apart? You know, I think the pandemic has, it has made it, so there's a lot less races on any given weekend.
Unfortunately for a lot of those, you know, nonprofits and things, you know, it probably has really hurt some organizations in that regard. But I think as we talked about earlier, you know, even more important for runners to come out and help support, you know, some of these local races, because. By people coming out and participating, it's only going to help to bring those back.

Bertrand Newson: [00:39:41]

I mean, thank you for all the hard work and heavy lifting you and your team are doing there in the Pacific Northwest producing great events, live events, and now showcasing wonderful trails in the coming months as well.

Kevin Chang: [00:39:52]

Ryan, where can our audience find you online?

Ryan Hite: [00:39:55]

You can head on over to our website nsplit.com and we have links to our Instagram, Facebook, all of our social media stuff over there.
And, uh, yeah, we would love to see your audience come out and join us one of the races in the future. And if they do come say hi, I'm sure I'll be there lugging around a sandbag or a barricade or something.
### End of the Interview

Kevin Chang: [00:40:11]

So, well, thank you so much, Ryan, for joining us on the podcast, we really loved listening to your story and getting to know a Negative Split.
And hopefully this is just the beginning of a long conversation and a long partnership. So thanks again, Ryan. Thanks buddy.

Ryan Hite: [00:40:26]

Absolutely. Thanks for having me. You guys.
### Episode Outro

Kevin Chang: [00:40:28]

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 RaceMob.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.