5 Things a Participant-Turned-Race-Director Learned in the Past 30 Years: David Scott (Event Director of the Month)

David Scott, general manager and race director for US Road Sports & Entertainment of Florida, discovered his passion for endurance sports back in 1979. At the time he was coaching baseball in Tampa and was convinced by his assistant coach to try a 5K. As a pitcher in college, David was used to running the outfield during practice for conditioning, but had never participated in a race before. After that first event, he was hooked and it became part of his everyday life. “Running benefited me—it relieved stress and I found myself more creative. Taking 30-45 minutes just to be by myself is refreshing.” 

In 2009, after 28 years in the University of Miami’s athletic department, David made a big change and became general manager and race director for US Road Sports & Entertainment of Florida, the organizing body of the ING Miami Marathon® and a series of other endurance races in South Florida. While he obviously had a wealth experience in the sports world, David had never looked at races from an organizer’s perspective. “When I was being considered for the position, I had never thought about all the elements that go into planning an event,” David notes. “I was a participant. I put on my bib, ran, grabbed a banana, and went home. Taking the role at US Road Sports required me to take a completely different approach.”

Four years later and David is still excited about his job. Here are the top 5 things you can learn from this participant who became one of the nation’s top race directors:

1. Use Your Hidden Talents
David loves to travel to other race expos to promote the US Road Sports events. “I’m still using my recruiting skills and promoting running and tourism in the wonderful community I live in. It’s great.” And he’s also become the National Charity Director for US Road Sports, significantly increasing the number of charities and philanthropic groups involved in his events.

2. Give Back to the Community
David is also proud of the ING Run For Something Better program that has become one of the largest kids’ races in the running world. The program is offered to middle school students in Miami-Dade County and encourages kids to log their miles over a 14-week period and then run their final 1.2 miles of the marathon distance on the day of the Miami Marathon. “I enjoy visiting the schools and encouraging kids to lead a more active lifestyle and it is truly a spectacle to see 5,000 youngsters wearing orange tee shirts and orange laces racing to the finish line.”

3. Never Stop Learning
The 11th annual ING Miami Marathon will be held in January. As race director, David leads the team that has grown the event from 3400 runners in 2003 to an incredible 25,000 runners and its first sell out in 2012. “I’m still learning about the running world every day. To be able to lead a company and have a signature event like the marathon in Miami is something I’m extremely proud of.”

4. Think Creatively
He makes an interesting parallel and compares himself using his past experience as a stadium manager (David has been a member of the Stadium Managers Association since 1993 and is currently the president). “The Miami Marathon is not a fixed stadium, but I have all the same elements. I have thousands of spectators and more athletes than other stadiums, all of the operations (registration/ticketing, concessions, merchandise, police/fire/rescue, volunteers, maintenance staff, etc), and coordinate these services with three municipalities. It’s just stretched out over 26.2 miles instead of three to four square blocks!”

5. Build a Strong Team & Get Support
In the past few years, US Road Sports has grown dramatically. The company recently acquired the Palm Beaches Marathon and First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon & Relay, as well as some client events. It has also put on its first international event in Jamaica, the Royal Caribbean 5K, held as part of a cruise. David emphasizes the importance of having help as a key ingredient to success—specifically a race committee and the support of the local running community. “We produce over 15 events in South Florida and need a full-time staff to make it happen. Our team is full of enthusiasm and determination, and that’s what you need to pull these events off.