Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tri-Life: Interview with Race Director and USAT Coach Jeremy Brizzi

People seemed to really like the interview with RD Colleen, I wanted to reach out to another.  I didn't have to look far as my friend, Jeremy Brizzi, is the Race Director for Leon's Triathlon in Chicago.  Check out his interview and my hard-hitting questions. Also, Crush will be hosting a Kona Live Viewing party at Ale Syndicate in Chicago.  All ChiTriBloggers are invited!   Hope to see you there.  Info and RSVP here
  1. Tell us a little about your experience as a Race Director?  In 2011 I began corresponding with the Legendary Leon Wolek, Race Director for Leon's Triathlon.  I worked my first full season with Leon in 2012 and in 2013 the fruits of my labor began to be realized, bringing to Leon's Triathlon the Special Qualifier status for the USAT National Championships, host of the Best of the US Championships, ParaTri friendly certification, relationships with Team In Training and Team RWB.  I also serve Elkhart Lake Multisport under the direction of Jeff Grady.  Both Leon and Jeff have been mentors to me, have helped me develop my vision, and together they truly give me a very wide spectrum into the possibilities available within our sport.  My interest in race directing was actually sparked in 2009 when I first entered triathlon.  From day one I was hooked.  I read everything I could get my hands on and quickly began to realize that the Mideast Region is underserved when it comes to Long Course and Ultra Distance races.  My passion for triathlon became a goal to bring these distances to the Chicagoland area .  With this idea, Crush Multisport was formed and planning began for the Crush Race Series.  We are finally set to launch August 3rd, 2014 with an Olympic & Sprint distance event in Winthrop Harbor, and a Long Course and Ultra Distance event in Crown Point, IN on September 27th, 2015.  
  2. Have you seen a problem with AG triathletes and doping?  What can realistically be done to avoid this?  I've read the occasional report about Age Groupers doping.  It is interesting to me that this would be an issue and honestly, who knows how large of a problem it actually is?  Age Groupers aren't typically tested and as a result, there is no fear of getting caught.  Likewise, triathlon is an affluent sport with a pretty high average annual income.  This tells me that a large number of participants can afford the drugs necessary to dope and with almost no reason to fear getting caught.  I like to think that the vast majority of athletes out there are clean and feel sorry for any individual willing to poison his or body and sacrifice both character and integrity.    It isn't until you start talking World Championship level competition that testing of Age Groupers takes place.  In terms of what can be done to reduce the number of Age Group dopers?  That's an interesting question.  I don't see much happening in this department.  My only suggestion is education, education, education.  Hopefully, informing athletes of the risks that they're taking with their lives will be enough of a deterrent, but this logic is flawed in that someone willing to cheat isn't likely to be overly concerned.
  3. What do you see the most common infractions for seasoned AG'ers being? Any advice to avoid these problems.  In addition to being a Race Director, I'm also a  Cat 3 Official.  This may come as a surprise but the most common infraction in Triathlon is likely athletes wearing or carrying headphones or devices that can play music on their person.  People too believe that just taking the headphones out of their ears is enough.  Not true.  Even if you're not using the device but it is with you, it's a time penalty.  Position fouls like blocking and drafting come second.  What I would like to see is a lifetime ban given to athletes who are aggressive toward Race Directors.  Too often, athletes come to races and treat volunteers terribly.  I always make a point of thanking our race organizers and volunteers regardless of the day I am having.  And yes, you can be disqualified from an event for verbal abuse.  
  4. You are preparing to bring a full distance triathlon to Chicagoland, how has this process been?  So far the process has been an unbelievable experience.  Sitting with the mayors and community members, communicating with the DNR, seeking sponsors, freaking out about finding hundreds of volunteers, budgeting, registration, permits, creating scenic courses with perfect roads only to find that construction crews plan to demolish half of your course or that roads cannot be closed, etc, etc, etc....  I love every second of it.  There is nothing easy about it and I'm only about 1% into the commitment,  but its an understatement when I say that I'm excited for the challenge.  The Crush Race Series is going to deliver safe, enjoyable, challenging, and well-organized events that are unique, exciting and give back to the communities but with a fair price that athletes deserve.  I strongly feel that race organizers don't do nearly enough to advance the sport and that corporate organizations like Ironman fail hard in their support of professional athletes, instead charging age groupers far too much while pocketing their millions.  Take away Kona and we would all be doing Rev or Challenge! It is my strongest desire to host races that make athletes feel catered to but also allow professional athletes to earn a living making money representative of the amount of effort that they put in.  A few thousand dollars may seem like a lot of money for eight hours work but when you can only race that distance a hand full of times per year, well, professional athletes should be making ten times that for doing well at events!  This is something I fully intend to deliver but the only way that happens is registration.
Jeremy Brizzi is USAT Certified Level I Coach, Race Director, and Cat4 Official. He also founded Crush Multisport, a Chicago Triathlon and Ultramarathon training team. He has attended races across the nation, including Kona in 2011 and somewhere along the way he began to recognize that there was a new direction for the sport as well as the necessary confirmation that a great market exists within his own Mideast Region. This has lead to his goal is to bring more Ultra Distance racing to Chicago.

Follow Jeremy and his team at:

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