Notes From a Hired Pen

Story Behind the Story: Less is More at New Road Races

I spend a lot of time running, and because I need a goal in order to get myself out the door, I run a lot of races, too. I’ve run some big ones, including the Chicago Marathon, but I’ve found I prefer smaller races. So I wrote a story about it.

The Story: “Less is More at New Road Races,” Running Times, September 2013

The Pitch: A few times a year, I drive up to the Rodale campus in Emmaus, Pa. for a run and lunch with editors from Runner’s World. I timed one trip to when an editor from Running Times, who I tweeted and emailed with before, would be there. At lunch, I talked about Pat McCloskey, who started RunBucks and puts on races the same day as some Philadelphia races. I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I know I talked about how he was a character: that he called himself Fat Pat, that he ran in knee high pink compression socks – that kind of thing. The Running Times editor was interested, and she followed up with an email that assigned the story, rounding it out to be a trend story about more of these kinds of races popping up in the U.S.

The Process: Once I had the assignment, I put a call out on Twitter for runners’ favorite smaller marathons. I used the #runchat hashtag and asked people to retweet my request. I do this often, and I usually get great answers. No different this time. I also put out  Profnet Query. A friend’s husband knew the PR contact for the Chicago Marathon, which got me an interview with their director. That was an important addition to this story, especially since one of the smaller races is pitched as a sister smaller race to Chicago.

It was a very smooth process from start to finish, and I now write for Running Times regularly.



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