Event planning and other logistics play a critical role in hosting successful events for 150+ runners and obviously tend to be difficult tasks — but Brazen Racing continues to strive for perfection each and every time out.
If you want to enjoy a 5K, 10K, or half marathon race in the San Francisco Bay Area, I recommend the Brazen Racing events. Brazen also occasionally hosts 50K, 6-hour, and 12-hour endurance runs for the experienced and courageous runners.
We recently caught up with Sam Fiandaca, Brazen Racing co-founder along with his wife Jasmin – and he wanted to share some of his thoughts and experiences. The race organization still has at least 18 races left this season, with Sam and Jasmin thinking of adding one more race to the calendar.
Why has the East Bay (primarily) and the rest of the Bay Area proven to be a great host of trail running events?
“I think the East Bay Regional Park District is a huge part of the success of trail running for all trail run organizers,” Sam told us. “They are especially unique in their passion to get people into the parks and using them. Larger events like ours can have an impact especially on the park staff and those park users who are accustomed to the parks being comparatively empty. Sometimes, probably just because of human nature, there can be a natural and totally understandable resistance to the sudden influx of runners at any park. I think this is something that has to be dealt with on a park-by-park basis, but ultimately it always includes a recognition that the participants of running events are not intruders, but valid park users. The parks are beautiful, but they are not producing the community benefits they could be if only a tiny percentage of the general public ever see them. We consider ourselves partners with all parks by bringing out as many park users as possible — we believe the parks are there to be used”
Is there a concern that Brazen is growing too rapidly and event accommodations will become even more difficult?
“I don’t think our events are necessarily growing too fast, but it is true that nearly all our events are at capacity and if the trend continues as it has the last couple of years, the races will sell out earlier and earlier. The worst part about that is when we have to turn people away. Some would say that having to turn people away is a “good problem”, but if it were “good” it wouldn’t be a problem! We don’t ever enjoy telling someone they can’t be part of the event. Our goal is to get as many people outside and active as possible, so this means we need to constantly be looking at all avenues to achieve that.
One possibility is adding some road races (which would allow for even greater numbers). Our first love is always the trails, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy getting out on the streets once in a while, especially if it is an event that can bring the type of community and fun that we’ve experienced at our trail runs.”
How have things changed for Brazen over the past two years?
“Races have gotten bigger in attendance and there are more of them. In order to keep up with that, we gotten more established equipment-wise with things like our new truck (it’s a Toyota electric/diesel hybrid using the Prius battery technology, so it has extremely low emissions, can run on biodiesel, etc. — a small step towards getting greener, something we’re always looking for) and our own MyLaps timing system (allowing us to use bib-tags for all our races — the same system used to time the last Boston Marathon and a much more efficient system than the shoe tags and ankle tags we’ve used in the past). Things like this make it easier to put on a quality race and to be more organized.”
I like to volunteer at events if I’m not participating, and volunteers can be an absolutely crucial part of the race.
How important are volunteers to help pre-race, during the race, and immediately after?
“I think anyone who has participated in a few runs knows just how important they are. If there were no volunteers, there would not be able to be running events — at least not in the way we know them. I think every race director would love to personally pour every cup of water, hand out every t-shirt, etc., but it’s just such a huge undertaking that we’re all pretty much indebted for life to the help of volunteers. Because we do many races a year, we get to see a lot of the same volunteers over and over again throughout the year and in that respect we’re very spoiled since we don’t have to spend ad much time on the training. Most of them know their jobs better than we do!”
When it comes to Brazen races, my family has had up to four people at a time volunteering at events; everything from race course photography to post-race food preparation for finishing runners.
If you’re ever in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to tackle a potentially hard trail race, I’d recommend visiting the Brazen Racing race calendar!
To finish our interview, Sam had this to say:
“Just that we feel extremely fortunate to have had the friendship and support that has lead to the success we have experienced over the last four years. As far as I’m concerned, the best thing about our races and about any successful race is always the community. I believe that even if you come to a race and hardly talk to anyone else at all, you still experience it. And when people ask the question “why would I pay to run in a race when I can run for free?”, that’s the ultimate answer. You come to the race to achieve whatever your goal is as part of that group of runners on that morning, to support others, to working to achieve common goals, to have fun. It doesn’t matter where you are from, your politics or beliefs, whether you are fast or slow, young or old — nobody cares about any of that. They only care that you came out and that, if at all possible, you make it through to the end. If you ask me, that’s a beautiful thing! I wish I could participate in a running event every day. Unfortunately that’s impossible. But I have been able to make it my full-time occupation to create and direct races that foster that sort community and for that I’m exceptionally grateful!”
Brazen Racing events might be difficult, but you will get extremely unique views and challenging trails that very few people in the Bay Area get to enjoy.