With decades of history in the events industry and a sweet spot for nonprofits, Steve Balfour is someone who believes that it’s all about the experience and the good cause, not the PR.
Can you tell us a little bit about your event?
Boston’s Run to Remember was started over 10 years ago to pay tribute to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The race has a sell-out crowd each year—we registered over 11,800 runners for 2015. The race is produced by the nonprofit Boston Police Runner’s Club, and proceeds are donated to local youth organizations.
While the half marathon and 5-mile races are the centerpiece of the event, the weekend’s activities also include an expo and an incredible Kids Jamboree. The race also includes a Law Enforcement Challenge, where police departments from across the country compete against each other. The top three teams win a cash prize, which is donated to their favorite community charity.
It is the perfect destination race, attracting runners from all 50 states and 20 countries outside the U.S. There is no better way to see and experience Boston.
How did you personally get started in the industry?
I have been involved in event production, especially for nonprofits, for over 40 years. I previously worked for the Alzheimer’s Association and American Cancer Society, directing endurance events and mass participation events.
I have served with some of the very best in the business and always love learning more. I believe that events are intended to be experiences, not just competitions.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I love people and I love delivering a great experience while making a difference in our communities. The two go hand in hand.
Charities have truly changed the way events are run. These days, a smaller percentage of people are there to win an award or get a PR; now it is about the social connection, improving one’s health, and supporting a cause that matters. At the end of the day, we can say WE made a difference!
What’s your least favorite thing about what you do?
Not being able to do even more. There is so much we want to do, but we need to be strategic about it. We are looking to add a race in January that will be a co-venture with the LAPD and the LA County Sheriff’s Department paying tribute to all First Responders. It is always a challenge starting up a brand-new event, but I spent 20 years in the LA events space, so at least I know my way around.
How long have you worked with ChronoTrack?
We have been using the ChronoTrack timing system for a good many years now. It is a great improvement over the days when we had to take long strings of chips and try to keep them in order and verify serial numbers that had worn off. What a project bib packet stuffing was in those days!
What are the biggest benefits of working with ChronoTrack?
Chronotrack has really made an event director’s life so much better. There is a far greater accuracy rate. No more collecting chips at the end of a race, which was always a pain, and no paying for missing chips and arguing over what happened to them. It is greatly streamlined now and the tie in to the ChronoTrack Live registration system is something that I think will continue to improve the experience.
Would you recommend ChronoTrack and if so why?
Absolutely, for all the reasons just mentioned above. There are great things coming together in the ChronoTrack system.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a newbie coming into the industry?
The best advice is to be patient. I get calls all the time from people who think it would be fun to put on a race for a worthy cause and they ask if I can tell them all they need to know over the phone. It has taken me 40+ years to learn what I now know and I won’t stop learning ’til I’m six feet under!
Serve as an intern, volunteer, or paid crew on established events, and learn all you can. Most people work until it’s time to go home, but successful event managers work until everything gets done (and I have never seen an event where everything gets done). There is always room to improve and grow. Be patient!
What’s your favorite race and why?
I love every event I have ever been to. But I really enjoyed running around the Portland Marathon operations on race day. They are really customer-service oriented and take great care of their runners.
What are your goals for 2015 and onward?
We have great plans for growing our Boston race and adding greater experiences to it. And we are very excited about the race we are putting together in LA this coming January called Run to Remember Los Angeles. Come on out and join us!
To learn more about Boston’s Run To Remember, click here.
To learn more about ChronoTrack, contact us.