The Bellingham Bay Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K is a group of races designed by runners for runners and walkers. Founded in 2003 by the Bellingham Bay Swim Team, BBM delivers a fun, highly personal, authentic race experience. 100% of net proceeds benefit Whatcom County youth non-profit organizations. The races continue to grow and receive accolades from beginner, experienced and elite athletes. They support every participant (no one is a stranger on their courses), celebrate every individual accomplishment, and embody the spirit of friendship and community that is so unique to running.

Name: Ben Twigg
Event: Bellingham Bay Marathon
Role: Event Director
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Can you tell us a little bit about all of your events?

The Bellingham Bay Marathon (“BBM”) is held annually on the last Sunday in September, in Bellingham, WA. The event includes a Boston-qualifying marathon, a half marathon, a 10K, and a 5K.

Founded in 2007 as a fundraiser for the Bellingham Bay Swim Team, the BBM is now the marquee road race in our area. We strive to be a “big-time event with a small-town feel,” and we are well-known for our beautiful courses, strong volunteer and community support, and original/high-quality shirts and medals.

How did you personally get started in the industry?

Coincidentally! When I moved to Bellingham, I participated in a couple smaller local running events. Through them I heard the BBM was looking for community help with planning/organizing, so I got involved and managed its start/finish area in 2012 and 2013. After the 2013 BBM, the director at the time retired, and I stepped into that role.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?

Seeing/hearing about the positive impact of the event, both with participants (to me it’s all about setting the stage for them to have a fantastic race experience!) and in our community (all of our net proceeds support local youth non-profits).

What’s your least favorite thing about what you do?

It becomes really consuming, and especially as the event approaches I have a hard time balancing it with other responsibilities and priorities.

How long have you been working with ChronoTrack?

This was the first year we worked directly with ChronoTrack!

What made you switch to ChronoTrack software/hardware?

We were looking for a registration platform that integrates well with race weekend systems (particularly timing), gives participants options (for logging in, connecting with social media, etc.), has a user-friendly and highly customizable “back end,” is up to speed technologically (like the “responsive”, mobile-optimized registration form), generates real-time reports, etc. Overall, ChronoTrack Live simply seemed like the best fit for our event!

What are 3 things you like best about ChronoTrack?

1. It seems driven by what is best for the customer/participant.
2. It has allowed us to achieve high levels of integration between registration, timing/results, and event photography – this is huge for us.
3. Real-time reporting!

What is one trick you’ve learned in the ChronoTrack system that has helped you save time/do something better?

Hmm…learning how to create/edit reports to get information I need (without extra information I don’t need) has saved me a lot of time!

What is the most practical, hands-on advice you would give a newbie?

While working with the back end, always consider a) how this will affect the customer’s/participant’s experience, and b) how much admin work this will entail for us. Personally, I’m pretty good at the former, not so good at the latter!

What’s your favorite race and why?

The North Olympic Discovery Marathon (“NODM”)! (Full disclosure: NODM is our partner event in the Salish Sea Series, and our two events have much in common.) NODM is beautiful and well-organized, and it includes lots of “personal touches” I love in a race experience: community involvement, handmade/personalized signs offering encouragement along the courses, etc.

What are your goals for the rest of 2015 and onward?

We are currently wrapping up our 2015 race year, which included co-founding the Salish Sea Series (a three-race series including the Whidbey Island Marathon, North Olympic Discovery Marathon, and Bellingham Bay Marathon), offering a 10K for the first time since 2007, receiving unsolicited accolades (e.g., in August Competitor named us as one of six U.S. fall marathons/half marathons in its “Where and When to Race” lists, and we were runner-up in Northwest Runner’s “Best Volunteers/Crowd Support” contest), seeing our participation numbers increase, and having a very successful event overall! We’re now in strategic planning mode, working on our goals for 2016 and beyond.

To learn more about Bellingham Bay Marathon, click here.

To learn more about ChronoTrack, click here.