Customer Salute: Pro Portsmouth, Inc.

Barbara-Massar__Pro_Portsmouth_Race_Management_Advice

What exactly do you do? How can you help me? Those aren’t unusual questions for us to hear at ChronoTrack and we have a lot of different types of customers. Instead of trying to explain all the details and potentially bore you to death, we thought we’d do a little show and tell. We’ll be spotlighting our partners, so you can hear what they have to say about it. This month we’re getting to know Barbara Masssar, Executive Director of Pro Portsmouth, Race Director for the Market Square Day 10K Road Race:

Can you tell us a little about Pro Portsmouth?

Pro Portsmouth is a non-profit that was established almost 40 years ago in 1977. We operate in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as well as the Seacoast of NH and Downeast Maine. Our flagship event (and anniversary!) is Market Square Day. Our 10K road race kicks off the festival and has been selling out for years. In addition to our own race, we’re a founding member of the Seacoast Road Race Series and we host its web presence. The Series is comprised of eight unique races in six Seacoast communities, and each acts as a fundraiser for a local non-profit.

How did you personally get your start in the business?

I started out volunteering with Pro Portsmouth in 1994 when I relocated to New Hampshire from New Jersey. Years later after a career change, I became the organization’s Production Coordinator (2001) and Executive Director in 2003.

What is your favorite thing about what you do?

Market Square Day is the only race that the City of Portsmouth allows to run through the downtown (downtown is closed for the festival). My favorite moment is seeing over 2,000 runners take off from that start line and head down Congress Street. I get very emotional, sometimes teary eyed. It’s the culmination of months and months of work and worry for the Staff, Board of Directors and Volunteers.

What is your least favorite thing about what you do?

As soon as I see all the runners cross the start line, I can’t relax until around 11:30 a.m. when the last person finishes. I want to know that everyone is safe – that’s my responsibility to ensure, the roads are reopened to vehicular traffic and along the course neighborhoods are cleared of all race “debris.”

Do you have any advice for other race directors?

There are a bunch of things we’ve learned along the way, but these would be my top five:

  1. Keep the information on your website as current as possible. For example, if you have a maximum number of bibs, let people know if your race is filling up and might sell out soon.
  2. Really focus on having clear communication within your staff, on your site, and on social channels like Facebook.
  3. Offer live results and athlete updates in your online registration system.
  4. Use bib chips—it’s simpler and will free up volunteers from detaching shoe chips at the finish line.
  5. Most importantly, do your homework. There are lots of misconceptions about road races, especially in the non-profit world. It looks like an easy way to make some money, but a lot of people don’t understand the costs involved (dumpsters, police, porta potties, etc.). It’s a big undertaking to put people out on your roads and to do it well, so be sure to talk to your community, city government, and other race directors.

How long have you worked with ChronoTrack?

We’ve been with ChronoTrack since 2012. Granite State Race Services provides timing for our Market Square Day race and they recommended ChronoTrack to us. That same year, Series’ registration migrated to ChronoTrack and for 2014, all eight Seacoast Road Race Series events signed on to ChonoTrack’s platform (ChronoTrack Live).

We are continually approached by other registration and timing companies, but we’re signed, sealed, delivered with ChronoTrack. The team at ChronoTrack has been good to us, and we’re loyal to them.

Why did you choose to work with ChronoTrack?

After reading a lot about the new technologies being used overseas, we decided to take the leap into 21st century in 2010 and begin using bib chips. That, combined with the fact that Granite State advised us to try it, made us confident it was the right strategy. It was clear that ChronoTrack was the industry leader for this technology and we knew if we were going to do this, we were going to do it right.

What are your goals for 2015?

In 2015 we want to implement a mobile responsive registration form because we’re seeing more and more traffic coming from mobile devices. We don’t want to have any barriers to registration. We also want to put more effort toward social media and taking advantage of what Athlinks has to offer.

To learn more about Pro Portsmouth, Inc., click here.

To learn more about ChronoTrack, contact us.