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The future of adventure race organising. Tips from a pro

10:30 1st April 2013 By Andrew Cremin
The future of the adventure race event industry.  TrailPlus’ Paul Magner talks about the challenge of satisfying ‘consumer competitors’ and the danger of ‘event fatigue.’
Oh no, the bridge is gone... Photo: www.hellrider.co.uk

Oh no, the bridge is gone…
Photo: www.hellrider.co.uk

Competition for competitors

From the customers’ point of view it’s never been better – whether you’re into running, biking, endurance or triathlon there have probably never been more event and challenge opportunities.

That’s excellent and from a personal point of view I’m all for encouraging people to do sport and exercise.  But the last five to ten years have probably seen perhaps more people like myself coming into the industry seeking to put on mass participation events as commercial events and I think we will see some more rationalisation over the coming years.  It’s not easy to create a full time business running events but it’s an exciting and dynamic time.


Competitors are consumers

Social media means people let you know their feelings and more importantly they let other people know their feelings.  I’m conscious that every single participant has the potential to praise your event or damn it.   That’s what drives you to do the best job you can because ultimately you can save thousands and thousands of pounds of marketing money if you send away tens of hundreds of customers telling their friends what a good time they’ve had.


You’re only as good as your next event

People don’t necessarily give any allowance for the circumstances behind an event.  It’s quite possible to get superb value not-for-profit event put on by a local club.  If you as a customer get a great experience paying £10 for that and then you pay £30-40 for a commercial event the following week you can’t then make apologies for your event saying ‘we’ve got to make a lot of money’!

You’re competing for your customer’s attention and their hard earned money alongside every other event.  You’re only as good as your next event, you’re not even as good as your last event.


Just glad to be finished, we think. Photo: www.hellrider.co.uk

Just glad to be finished, we think.
Photo: www.hellrider.co.uk

Under pressure

If you’re looking to get into the event business having thick skin and being an unbelievable sleeper will stand you in very good stead.  I’m better than I was in the early days.  Where an event’s been properly planned and we’ve got the resources in place then most of the time I sleep reasonably ok but I always sleep far, far better the night after than the night before!


Staying flexible

I have the good fortune to work from home and make my own rules and that relative degree of control was one of the real motivating desires in setting up the business.

I’ve never been motivated to build an empire or have the flashy offices.  I’ve actually deliberately decided employing people on a full time basis and saddling myself with overheads that might put pressure on the business further down the line.

I’ve learnt that just when things are going really well something not so good happens and just when you’re having a run of bad luck something good happens.  I won’t be retiring any time soon and my 14 year old son’s not showing any signs of wanting to take over the business but for me the cup is always half full.


Hellrider: The Devil’s Duathlon takes place on May 11th on the Hambledon Estate, near to Henley-on-Thames. Here’s a video to see what it’s all about.

HellRider, Henley on Thames, 11th May.

8 hour off-road endurance duathlon for soloists or teams of 3 or 5.  (Now with run or mountain bike only options).



Adventure Challenge Series

Team 10k multi-terrain run, up to 25km mountain bike, and a 1km kayak.


  • Cumbrian Commotion, Grizedale Forest, 23rd March
  • Camberley Caper, Surrey, 19th October
  • Cannock Chase Calling, Staffordshire, 7th December
  HellRunner series

10-12 miles of tough, off-road running.

  • Hell Up North, Delamere, Cheshire, 2nd November
  • Hell In the Middle, Trentham , Staffordshire, date tbc,
  • Hell Down South, Longmoor Camp, Hampshire, 4th January



Beauty and The Beast, High Wycombe, 21st September

An off-road trail marathon or half-marathon for soloists or teams of up to six.



This article is part of a short series about Getting into Adventure Race organising.
Read the other parts here:

Part 1: From Frozen Portaloos to the Bog of Doom

Part 2: Getting Started 

Part 3: The Future


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