Pivoting and persisting with community support: A look at Race Day Events
In 2005, Ryan Griessmeyer was a project manager at Badger Swimpools and helped manage local running events as a hobby. The following year, Race Day Events was born, along with more events and a fast-growing participant base. By 2011, it was evident that Griessmeyer needed to make event management his full-time job. With the support of his family and friends, he was able to hire additional full-time staff a few years later and buy an existing management company to oversee some of Madison’s flagship events like Madison Marathon and Taste of Madison. Griessmeyer commends Park Bank for being there from the beginning. “We have built a strong partnership from day one, and they’ve been creative and flexible with lending needs and support along the way.”
2019 was a groundbreaking year at Race Day Events in more ways than one, including an actual groundbreaking ceremony at the site of their future office and a year with the highest number of participants, events, and staff the company had ever seen. There were high hopes for 2020 as well, and then came the pandemic. All in-person events were canceled or postponed and participants were unwilling to sign up for future events. Like many, Griessmeyer tried to stay positive, but it quickly became evident that it was going to be a tough year. Luckily, the Paycheck Protection Program became available. “Elyse [Smithback] at Park Bank was immediately on top of PPP and almost gave us a head start. She coached us through everything and we were able to receive full forgiveness on both rounds of funding,” Griessmeyer comments.
Keeping their heads up, Race Day Events quickly pivoted the business. In areas where limited outdoor events were possible, they offered trail runs and time trial starts to make participating as safe as possible. Other races offered a virtual component, in lieu of an in-person event, and Race Day began ramping up virtual fulfillment and packet shipment for other race management companies. Over 100,000 packets were shipped between the months of September and December alone. “I’ve always been a firm believer that our people are what make us stand out from the rest,” says Griessmeyer. “Everyone who works here is passionate about the industry and are willing to do whatever it takes. We are truly a one-stop shop!”
Moving forward, Griessmeyer plans to continue offering packet fulfillment and shipping, as well as virtual options for some events. But mostly, Race Day Events is looking forward to endurance events returning to normal and being able to provide support back to their community. Every event they own ties to a local charity, such as ICE Inc., which has received over $75,000 in donations from Race Day throughout the years. Race Day also supports events like Miler in Training: Allied Running Club, which serves an under-resourced and diverse neighborhood to help give kids education, joy, pride, and independence.
Griessmeyer and Race Day Events are thankful for the support of the community as in-person events and races begin to open up. If you are interested in participating or volunteering, you can find a list of events here.