"Whatever It Takes" at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon

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A Day in the Life of Bethany Sava: Sunday, May 21

This past weekend was one of my favorite weekends of the year. Besides being my first wedding anniversary, it was the 40th running of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. And before you get any crazy ideas, no I wasn’t running. I was there to make sure everything went off without a hitch. While my title at WhiteSpace is account manager, my role this past Sunday was “VP of Misc. Stuff” from the hours of 4:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Sometimes, well, a lot of times, WhiteSpacers are asked to step out of our day-to-day role and help our clients do whatever it takes for them to be successful. The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is just one of those clients we love to go the extra (26.2) miles for – even when it means waking up at 4:30 a.m.

This was my fifth year working the race and it marked more than a decade for WhiteSpace. So what goes into race day? Here’s an inside perspective of my day “running” around in the Rock and Roll Capital of the World.

1:30 a.m. – Oh boy. Just finished some last-minute updates on race materials. Time to get some shut-eye. The Hyatt Regency in Downtown Cleveland has plenty of fluffy pillows, but the air conditioning system sounds disturbingly similar to thunder, which could spell trouble for the morning. I review my mental checklist as sleep evades me for most of the night, a tradition of marathon eve.

4:30 a.m. – BUZZ! First alarm goes off, vibrating obnoxiously against the nightstand. Pause. BUZZ! Yep, there’s the second alarm. Maybe I can close my eyes for another minute … An unholy noise – like the combination of a foghorn and fire engine – assaults my ears. Ahh, the wake-up call I ordered.

5:00 a.m. – First stop – The Marriott to set up the media room for the elite runners and the journalists who will interview them after they finish their events today. Press kits? Check. Refreshments? Check. WiFi? Check. Backdrops and signage? Check! I jet over to the business center at the Marriott to print out some final items. 

5:30 a.m. – On to the press truck! I head over to the start line, which is kind of a mini-marathon in itself as I avoid the runners funneling downtown in their brightly colored athletic gear and navigate the streets that are being closed in preparation for the event.

5:50 a.m. – At the start line on Ontario at the northwest corner of the Quicken Loans Arena, I hop out of the truck and run over to the announcer’s stage. Gang’s all here, and they have their scripts in hand. Perfect!

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6:00 a.m. – Connect with WKYC. We’ll be doing a series of live shots all day, and it’s time for the first one. I find Jack Staph, executive race director, and get him ready for a quick pre-race interview.

6:05 a.m. – The corrals are starting to fill up with runners. The weather is holding up. There’s a slight breeze fluttering the flags and banners near the start line – all under a blue sky. Sure beats the hail, snow, rain and thunder of last year’s race.

6:30 a.m. – You forgot to pick up your bib? Here’s where you go. The restrooms are right over there. Sure, we have sunscreen and band-aids. You can go over to that tent. See why my title is VP of Misc. Stuff?

6:35 a.m. – After Jack Staph’s interview, I help coordinate another live cut with Cleveland Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack. This was Councilman McCormack’s territory, as Ward 3 includes Downtown, Tremont, Ohio City and Flats neighborhoods, as well as a portion of Clark-Fulton and the Stockyards. He welcomes the runners.

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6:40 a.m. – It’s now 20 minutes until race time, and there’s still so much to be done. I update Councilman McCormack on the surprise we have in store. The councilman finds out he is starting the race by presenting Jack Staph with a proclamation, officially naming May 21, 2017 Jack Staph Day. Pretty cool, huh? I think Jack will like that.

6:45 a.m. – The hand-crank marathoners are off! I have to make sure the announcers start on time and get everyone pumped up by playing some serious jams. I mean, Cleveland is the Rock and Roll Capital, right?

6:53 a.m. – I find Angelina Fiorini of Hyland, our national anthem singer. We silence the crowd. It’s time. She belts out the beloved lyrics with a voice that belies her small frame, and the crowd is so mesmerized that they wait until she finishes the whole song before breaking out into applause.

6:57 a.m. – You can feel the energy coming from the runners as they wait. It’s almost electric, that sense of something coming, like the air before a summer storm. The elites run up and down warming up. Their brightly colored shirts bounce up and down. I make sure we are ready to queue up the song Cleveland Rocks, by the Presidents of the United States of America, which will play until all the runners get through the start line.

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7:05 a.m. – The runners are off, and I need to get back for another live cut with WKYC.

7:10 a.m. – I have to find Jack Staph again for his next interview, but this time it’s not with WKYC. It’s with the Rite Aid Crew and – surprise – Channel 19 needs him as well! They are interviewing him about the 40th anniversary. I’m watching the clock because I need to get over the finish line by 7:20. That’s when the 10k winners will be coming in. I think I can do it.

7:20 a.m. – I made it! The 10K finishers are crossing the finish line, so I make sure the volunteers get the top three runners up to the media room at the Marriott for their interviews. I’ll do this for each of the races throughout the day. I also help the volunteers get the race results to the media room. Once the finishers are escorted by the volunteers to the media room, I head back to the announcer’s stage to take calls from the press truck.

7:30-10:30 a.m. – For the next few hours I take calls from the press truck. I tell them where runners are on the course. Tell them who is in the lead and for what race. FYI, I only track them until all the winners are in.

8:45 a.m. – WEWS finds me at the finish line, and we provide updates on where the lead runners are on the course.

9:35 a.m. – Last live cut of the day. We find Ralph Staph, race director, and get him prepped to go on with WKYC.

10:30 a.m. – Was that a sprinkle? It’s starting to rain. Good thing all the winners are already in and all my photo opps for Instagram are done.

11 a.m. – I can finally relax, a little. But only long enough to grab a quick bite to eat at the VIP brunch.

12 p.m. – Time to draft the Cleveland Marathon press release. I generally follow the same format every year. I recap the day, mention the top three finishers for each race and mention the highlights of the day. This year’s focus – the 40th and the new course.

1 p.m. – Send out requested results to the media (Top-25 finishers, Ohio finishers, etc.).

2 p.m. – Finish up the press release, have a few people proof it, make those edits, read it again, and again, and again (my eyes are getting more and more tired) and send it out to my media list. Finally, I’m done!

2:30 p.m. – I can finally get home and see BabyLove (my pup) – oh, and my husband, too. We’re off to celebrate our first wedding anniversary!

You can’t beat the thrill of race morning, and even though it’s a lot of hard work, it’s always worth it. Sure, it’s a long day, and you have to be awake at an unholy hour, but sometimes it takes a little extra hustle to make the lives of our clients easier. It’s my job to make sure they know we are there, accessible and available, and to do "whatever it takes."

Does your organization need help achieving your marketing goals? Contact the brand builders and difference makers at WhiteSpace. We'll do whatever it takes to help your team cross the finish line!

Are you a "whatever it takes" type of person? What are some of the crazy things you've done to reach your mark? Please share here.

 

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