Before I start, a little background on how we got into race events.
When I started Music Makes You Happy I hit the ground running (pun intended) and I was constantly looking for more events. Being that I didn’t have the safety net of a job to fall back on, the fire was lit under me to really push hard and look under every rock to see what I could find.
Through a mutual friend, I was introduced to a group that just started gaining momentum producing race events on the peninsula. After a meeting, we decided that Music Makes You Happy would provide some audio for a small upcoming afternoon race they were hosting. Well, things went well and I started doing more and more race events for an awesome company called Flat Out Events.
If you are a fan of running and race events and haven’t been to a Flat Out race, you are missing out! These are some of the most well produced races in the area and I would know, I have done sound for a lot of different race events and none are as organized or as well run as the Flat Out races are. Props to Jason and his staff for always coming through and getting the job done!
I mentioned that my first race with Flat Out Events was an afternoon race because it is the only race that I have ever done for them that didn’t start in the morning. Had I known how early they like to start, I might have hesitated a little because I am not a morning person. But I’m glad it worked out because I really do enjoy doing race events now, even if they start before the sun comes up!
Let’s work backwards for a minute…
A typical race day starts with runner registration around 6AM. We like to have music going so when the runners arrive, they are greeted with fun, upbeat music to start their event. This means that we need to leave our shop in Suffolk around 3AM to arrive at the venue around 4/430AM. I honestly don’t know if I would categorize this as a really early start to the day since we tend to have events the night before, most days it feels like a really late night since the sun still isn’t up. They don’t even have doughnuts available yet at 7-11, it’s that early!
Once we are on site, we start setting up. At most race events we have at least 2 different areas where we are providing sound for, sometimes 3. This requires multiple people working together, knowing what is needed and doing their job in the dark. Before I had a staff, I did all this by myself. I was a much younger man back then!
With the popularity of Flat Out races, we can usually expect no fewer than 800 runners and another couple hundred cheerleaders, supporters and workers/volunteers. We strive to make sure that as many people as possible can hear the music and understand the announcements, so we work hard ahead of time determining what equipment we need to bring to best fit the clients need. Sometimes that requires us to bring multiple speakers and stretch them out along the starting corals and sometimes that means we need to bring our new line array system and really fill the entire area with sound. This prep work involves site visits, study maps and practice runs ahead of time in our warehouse.
Once the runners have arrived and the race starts, we have some downtime to either breakdown areas that are no longer needed, like the start line system, or we prep for the end of the event. Because of the limited setup window, often times the finish line system may not have been sound checked prior to the start of the race, we now have time to do that.
As the runners start crossing the finish line, the real party begins. We usually have a large area sound system setup in the postrace area where runners can enjoy all the festivities that come with finishing a big race. During this time, we also have the finish line system playing music while the emcee announces the runners as they cross the line. These two systems are running simultaneously and we have people operating both.
Often times, participants are still finishing the race when awards need to be given to the top runners. The awards and door prize part of the race is probably my least favorite part. Having to announce raffle ticket numbers over and over again isn’t fun for me, but hey, I don’t mind doing it and we usually try to add some humor by playing fun music or cracking jokes.
With all Flat Out races, a big deal is made for the last runner that crosses the finish line. Guests are encouraged to come back to the finish line area and the theme from Rocky is played while the emcee gets everyone cheering. It’s an amazing scene and it’s my favorite part of any race. The people that finish should be cheered, it’s big deal to finish!
Once the last runner has crossed, the sponsors are thanked one last time and breakdown begins. Depending on the staff we have and the amount of equipment we used, this usually takes about an hour and we are typically back in the truck heading to the next event by 11:30 or noon.
While race days tend to be very long days with events the night before and events after the race, they are a fun break from the norm. They allow the DJ’s to experiment with music they wouldn’t normally play or showcase mixes they have been working on without fear of disrupting the momentum of the event. Race events also provide great exposure for our brand which is a wonderful added bonus of playing music for thousands of people!
I really hope that we get to see you this year at a Flat Out Events race!