With the recently announced theme for the 2017 US Trail Running Conference, Making Strides in Innovation, this is the next in a series of posts focused on participating sponsors and our expert panelists on how they have used innovations to drive their products, service and races. This time we interview Samantha Pruitt, Founder & CEO of Race SLO, Ultra Athlete, Lover of Human Badassery

By US Trail Running Conference

Race SLO has been around since 2008. How long have you been involved and what first attracted you to race directing?
I founded the company in 2008 with a business partner. I was the companies Race Director in charge of all aspects related to R&D, production, athlete and agency relations.
I bought out my partner 2 years ago, took on the role as CEO and have been FULL STEAM AHEAD ever since in pursuit of leveling up. I have a natural entrepreneurial spirit, owning several other businesses prior, and love the energy of working hard on a values driven mission. Prior to Race SLO my career was in sales & marketing. At 32 I got off the damn couch to get healthy and became a certified personal trainer, then professional endurance sports coach and finally a certified Race Director. My entire life and body have been transformed through discovering endurance sports.

How has Race SLO grown or developed and what have been the key drivers to achieve this?
In the last 9 years Race SLO has become the dominant sports production player of the California Central Coast. Myself and my GSD team (Get Shit Done) have worked relentlessly to create not only the highest quality experience for our athlete customers but the most authentic to our brand and town. We went from having one 800 person trail run and bike ride event, raising funds for a local cancer charity, to now producing 7 San Luis Obispo County races and festivals in 2018 consisting of the SLO Marathon & Half, the Healthy Running Conference, the Warrior Trail Run & Adventure race, the SLO Ultra, the SLO MTB mountain bike race, the SLO GranFondo and the Paso Robles Half Marathon. All of this growth has come solely through blood, sweat and tears (of both pain and joy). As we all know- this industry requires not only a tough skin and a solid work ethic, but to truly succeed you must also take risks and believe 110% in your mission.

What is the Race SLO mission, and how successful have you been in realizing this goal?
“Through Human experiences, we create social and economic impact to share our legacy.” – Race SLO Mission
As we take honest inventory and re-position ourselves for the next level up year, we can truly say we are rock solid in doing exactly that. Though we work mostly for pennies and love, we patiently realize that our time will come. Meanwhile, the powerful impacts we have made on the local economy ($4 million+ econ impact to our county in 2016, the $500,000+ raised for and donated to our non-profit partners, the life changing social impacts we create with physical, mental and relationship building events for the 30,000 people we have touched more than solidifies our success. Our 5 north star values guide us through the storms of this turbulent industry and allow us to stay true to ourselves when we fail to meet our goals. Our Race SLO values are:
1) Human connections are above all
2) We are relentless learners & explorers
3) We are customer service & solution oriented
4) We handle both stress & success well
5) We win or lose together – as a unit

You recently carried out an economic impact assessment for Race SLO. How useful has the output from this been to Race SLO, and what difference has it made to leverage relationships with DMO’s or other relevant organizations?
We have done several and hired an outside agency to do it for us so it would be factual. First we focused just on the largest annual event, SLO Marathon & Half, in order to gain much needed support from our city and sponsors. We proved that for about every 1,000 runners we hosted close to $1 million in county economic impact was generated through hotels, food, gas and shopping while they are here for the weekend. Each runner brought an average of 2.5 people with them as well. For us producing events in this year round tourist destination location, we average 65% out of area at our races. That is powerful. In 2016 we had the report done on all three current Race SLO events and the findings were $4 million in county economic impact. For 2018 we will produce 7 events and we will no doubt be one of the top economic drivers in this local small business sector. We use this information to tell our story, get permit and agency challenges resolved, to ask for sponsorship support and to prove our mission.

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