In its third year, the 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon has become a must-do event for runners from across Australia and around the globe. Atlas Multisports manages this world-class running festival, which raises funds for the Ronald McDonald House of South East Queensland. The event features a marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k, and 2k that run along the picturesque coastlines of Australia’s Sunshine Coast. We had a chance to talk with Jason Crowther, the managing director of Atlas Multisports. Here’s what he had to tell us about the event itself and his path to becoming a race director.
How did you become an event director?
I come from a running and professional athlete background. I started after my career coaching athletes and triathletes for Ironman and half Ironman events. I took it up as a hobby really. I started running some run events just because there was a lack of those types of events on the Sunshine Coast. I’m an engineer by trade, so up until a couple of years ago, I was working full time as an engineer. I really loved race directing, the whole organisation side of it, especially with the marathon. Six to nine months of work culminates in one day. I like that sort of pressure type situation. From that hobby, just putting in hard work on those smaller events, I was given the opportunity to run larger-scale events. Around the time of the Sunshine Coast Marathon, I decided to do it full time and become a race director.
What was your main mission or motivation for putting on the 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon?
A group of a couple of friends and myself went over to run the Las Vegas marathon. We were toying with a 5K or a 10k, similar to like a City to Surf type thing where it was a point-to-point type of event. Then we went over to Vegas and did the marathon and thought, why don’t we do a marathon? It could be the marquee event for running. We don’t have it on the Sunshine Coast. Let’s make it a world-class event and a not-for-profit event where all the benefits go back to the community and charity.
The big driver for me on that side is that it’s a Sunshine Coast event that is 100% owned by Sunshine Coast and 100% gives back to the Sunshine Coast.
What are some of the things you think set your event apart and help it be successful year after year?
We’ve done surveys on this and it’s split down the middle. For marathon and half marathon runners, it’s all about location. A flat path is cool. Being a community event, we get so much support from local businesses. The community knows that the funds are going to charity and not just to the event organiser.
From my point of view, I’m driven because I know that the more entrants I get, the harder I push my sponsors and my contractors, the more money goes back to charity. Obviously, the key thing for me is getting feet on the start line. I want to try and get as many people on the start line as possible and I want to raise as much money as possible.
What are your plans for the future?
I have a five-year plan to get the marathon to 10,000 plus competitors. The Sunshine Coast Marathon probably has a 12,500 to 15,000 thousand capacity long-term. If I can get it to the 10,000 mark, then we’re on our way to being full.
I want to start doing more events. I have a passion for triathlon; that’s my professional background. Triathlons are done very well on the coast. There’s a need for cycling events. I’m not looking to source another event, but if another event comes to me that I think is needed—that’s really important. If I think an event is needed or missing from the calendar, then that’s my next step.
I don’t want to do what’s already been done, because I’m not going to be successful if I do that. I need to fill a hole. With the marathon, we filled a hole and obviously it was a hole that needed to be filled. And that’s why it’s been so successful. I do think there could potentially be a cycling event on the Sunshine Coast.
Do you have any advice for race directors who might just be getting started?
I can only give the advice that other race directors have given me. When you’re first starting out, you’re going to have a marquee event. Put all your eggs in one basket and really work on that marquee event. Don’t get caught up in trying to run too many events initially, because you’re just going to dilute your message. Get that one event to a level where you’re happy with it. Then you can start looking at doing other events. Otherwise, your key event is going to suffer and the other events you try and do won’t be successful either.