Sunday, 24 June 2007

If you don't ask you won't get

In this posting the theme is the same (If you don't ask you won't get) but I have two different points to illustrate this theme. Number One may assist in your sponsor search (product/financial) and other aspects of your life. Number Two will improve your adventure racing.

Number One
As you may know, my day job is working as the Communications Editor for Let's Play, Supersport's kiddies social responsibility project. I answer all the emails sent to us by members of the public; most of them are from parents, schools and some children. What do they all have in common? They want, want, want: t-shirts, caps, balls, sports equipment, money... for teams, individuals, clubs...
We do have an FAQ on our website that says that we do not sponsor individuals, teams, events etc. There is just no way we would be able to. So, our reply is standard.

That said... we did run a campaign in April where we collected old equipment donated by the public to give to beneficiaries (schools etc) who are in desperate need of equipment. There's also the current campaign that is about raising soccerballs to donate to beneficiaries. In this case we're aiming to fulfill as many wishlists as possible.

The thing that drives me mad is that I receive emails about how Joe X wants to start a soccer, rugby and cricket in his community and he wants equipment. I reply asking him to send me a specific wish list i.e. 5 x soccer balls, 3 x rugby balls etc.
I also get emails from people hosting events saying that they'd like to partner with Let's Play because they also believe children should be active. Blah, blah, blah... what is this asking for? Nothing. So, I reply to ask, "What are you specifically looking for from us?"

If they said they wanted tv coverage or for us to promote their event on our website I could give a yes or no; but because they do not specify what they want, I'm unable to assist.

The moral of this one is to be specific about what you want; and you'll be more likely to get it. If you email a potential sponsor and say, "We're looking for sponsorship", you probably won't have much luck. Instead try: "The form of sponsorship we would like from you is to purchase 4 x thermal sweaters and 4 x cycle shorts from you at wholesale price". If it was me, I wouldn't refuse your request. Remember too... baby steps. Money is hard to come by so don't expect cash sponsorships, especially in the early days; I can bet that you wouldn't part with your money to pay for other people's weekend recreation without very, very good reason.

Number Two
At orienteering champs this weekend on of our established adventure racers spoke to me about this year's Swazi Xtreme, mentioning that a number of racers had spoken to him and that many were unhappy. Main issues were regarding safety and marshals.

Firstly, you are all quite correct. There should be more marshals out on course, like at the potholes/kloofing section and most definitely there should have been safety kayakers and marshals at the two rapids - or bunting tape leading you out of the river.

What I think you all forget is that you are the customers and Darron (and every other race director) is the service provider. You are paying hard earned cash to enter (about R1,000 per person this year?) and you have every right to say what you'd like at races.

And I'm not talking about complaining; there's a lot of that. I'm talking about constructive solutions.

Instead of "Navigation on the PRO event is too easy" try "Can you include some more technical navigation on the PRO event next year; even some orienteering elements?". Or, "We've been working on our paddling but would feel more comfortable with some more safety kayakers on the rivers".

This year I got involved with the event two days before the start, to be on hand to help Darron with on-the-ground elements. And while I didn't compete, I did make notes and drafts of ideas for next year's event. More marshals, safety kayakers and technical navigation elements (as used as examples above) are just three things that come from my personal list of things I'd like to see included next year.

There are all kinds of other things that could crop up on your lists; more mtb, less mtb, more trekking, less trekking, no jumps, flat water paddling, river K1 paddling, more swimming... Fundamentally we all have personal preferences and an event will suit some more than others.

As you know, Swazi is the one race that I do annually (I've been at all 7, helped at 2, raced 4 and helped this year). But, I've chatted to Darron and will be more involved next year on the planning and organisational side. I'll be involved partially with the route (athough this is Darron's baby) and more specifically with organisational elements, like marshals.

My main gripe here is that it is not for me to "represent" you. It is not for me to tell Darron - or any other organiser - what to do or not to do. It is not my event and I do not race most of them.

Racers... stand up for yourselves. This is not a new thing; this complacency has been around for years. If you were served a steak when you ordered a vegetarian meal at a restaurant I'm sure you'd complain. Actually while we were at Swazi a bunch of us went for a meal at that restaurant above the dam. I got a piece of chicken that had been cooked to death and it wasn't the dish I had ordered (some people at my table were surprised I'd asked for the manager - they would have just eaten it). I asked to speak to the manager. I addressed my concerns and she dealt with the issue immediately; and she had no idea that I'd been served the wrong meal. By bringing it to her attention she was able to follow up with the kitchen, to chastise the chefs and so ensure that the standard and quality of meals at her restaurant was up to standard; and more importantly that her customers would be happy and would return. That's really what it is all about.

Most (if not all?) organisers would gladly receive your constructive comments so they can improve their events and keep you coming back for more.

But if you say nothing and grumble only to your friends? You'll get a piece of tough chicken and an unenjoyable meal and you have no room to complain because you have failed to a) notify the manager and b) contribute to the improvement of the standard and quality of the meals served to you and everybody else in the future.


adventurelisa said...

At Wartrail this weekend a racer gave me some constructive feedback. The gist of his comments were that yes, there should have been a marshal at the bum slide but that Swazi Xtreme is a tough and challenging race and that marshals are not needed around every corner. He added that those less experienced participants should go for the SPORT event and then advance to the PRO event. He also commented that the water issue was something Darron could not control and that racers should decide for themselves what they are prepared to do - and they shouldn't rely on, "Darron said it was ok". He is in favour of jumps, but added that 12m jumps are excessive and that 5-10m jumps are adequate for everyone.

I mentioned about using bunting, signboards etc where necessary (I count these indicators as marshals in certain situations) and he affirmed that these are mostly unnecessary because they (the competitors) are in the event to make their own decisions and do not need to be watched every step of the way.

I think I'm getting soft ;)

Anonymous said...

Great to read Lisa's report of the Rhodes Run. Agreed organisation was the best. The route and mountains were awesome with some dusting of snow still lying around. The weather was good to us.
A wonderful experience that I was privileged to participate in.