I started running later in life and I noticed several things – it’s truly a social experience and a lot of great friendships and marriages blossom as a result. Take for example a trip I made over a year ago to Nolensville Tennessee, I got to participate with a cool run club and in my last blog I got the chance to learn about Scott and his inspiration behind the club. What was real cool about our conversation is how he told me his club picked a specific event to participate in annually, so I got to thinking that I would reach out to the event director to learn more about how he engages and inspires runners and clubs.
So out of the blue I called the event director Todd Oliver, who is the inspiration behind the Carmel Marathon in Indiana – I don’t know about you but I have never been to Indiana and now after talking with Todd I plan to put this on my calendar and make it a goal.
Todd is from Fort Wayne Indiana and he attended Indiana University where he studied Economics then entered the Sports Marketing world starting with auto racing, then tennis and then finally into running. Todd launched an event management company seven years ago staging a variety of events including art shows, non-profit fundraisers such as go-cart auto racing for the arthritis foundation and even NFL player endorsements, now Todd only does running events.
Todd was previous president of Indiana Runners for 3 years, the largest running club in Indiana. The RRCA club has been around for 30+ years with close to 1000 runners. Todd successfully started two other RRCA running clubs including the Carmel Running Club, the first official RRCA for the City of Carmel. Todd’s company is Carmel Road Racing Group with headquarters in Carmel, Indiana a fast-growing, economically-thriving suburban edge city on the North Side of Indianapolis.. Carmel is the most active county in the state as well as the wealthiest. It was ranked #1 Best Place to Live in America by CNN Money Magazine in 2012 for cities with a population between 50,000 and 300,000. Carmel was ranked #1 Best Town for Young Families based on public school rating, median home value, ongoing cost of home ownership, median income and economic growth
So I asked Todd – What got him into running. Todd stated, ‘My Primary sport was baseball, so running was punishment and I never thought distance running was for enjoyment. Many years after college, I moved to Indianapolis I started running socially with friends from a work-out facility. A co-worker introduced me to the local run clubs and in ’97 I ran in my first race. It was a 5 mile trail run and I was hooked. It has now become a lifestyle – it’s a habit,’ Todd went on to say ‘I tell folks to try and be physically active for 6 weeks and it will change your behavior – only 6 weeks, so be patient with yourself. You will sleep better and feel better.’
Todd went on to tell me, ‘I now run Marathons and Half Marathons as I am part of the Marathon Maniacs Club and the 50 states club. I got caught in the web of running more and I know I can’t run every day but I try to run 30-40 miles per week. The last seven months I have run in 5 marathons and 6 half marathons. I’m 25 states in as a part of the 50 states marathon club and all my results have been under 4 hours. I know that’s a lot of running in a short period of time but its fun as I can communicate on a personal level with folks and it’s kind of marketing for me with my events’ Todd replied.
So I asked Todd how he got started with the Carmel Marathon, Todd replied ‘This guy in Indianapolis approached me as he needed help with a marathon, so I set out to be an independent contractor but I thought heck if I can’t buy this one, I will create one myself, so I did. So I partnered up with a friend and moved to Carmel to put on the marathon, Todd said. ‘I thought the move would help me from a community perspective.’
‘So in 2011 we launched the Marathon in June after the Mini Half in Indianapolis and we had 3000k runners. We lobbied with USA Track and Field and won the bid to host the 8k mens championship. In our second year we moved it to April and it’s now the 2nd largest marathon in the state. We kept the 8k distance and added a half and 5k – all events occur on the same day in fact they all have the same start,’ Todd stated.
‘The half grew by 18% and our primary Non-Profit is the Ronald McDonald house – for families that don’t have funds to stay in a hotel if kids are in the hospital’ Todd stated. So I asked Todd how has he inspired and connected with other runners and clubs, Todd said ‘With the Marathon we have worked hard to create an experience for clubs and runners. As opposed to doing discounts we do a VIP experience with a catering company. We also make care packages, welcome packages, maps to the city and we do hotel drops,’ Todd stated.
So I went on to ask Todd what would he tell someone new to running, Todd said ‘Try not to compare yourself to other runners, everybody is a runner – we all have it in us. If you do compare yourself to others it will turn you off, nobody cares – just be competitive with yourself that’s what makes it fun. Just enjoy the experience on what it feels like to be at the start and getting that runner’s high’
I went on to ask Todd about his goals, Todd said ‘My goal is to do 1000 miles a year.’
Thank you Todd for sharing your story – it was comical when I initially called you on the phone I think you thought I was a salesperson of some sort – its funny how things evolve. I hope to see you soon in Indiana or Atlanta.