Races, pivots, and pushing through 2020 with one of our oldest clients
Our longtime colleague and friend Eric Patrick Marr said it best when he talked about the pandemic throwing a wrench into his perfectly executed plans of the 10th annual RunTheBluegrass half marathon. It was set to be a spectacular event until Covid canceled all of it. It would have kicked off a tremendous year for our business.
“I've likened our experience with 2020 as a giant locomotive barreling down the tracks at full throttle, then all of a sudden having to throw on the brakes as hard as possible,” Eric said in October. “In other words: a trainwreck.”
His words aptly describe this year’s experience as Race Director for RunTheBluegrass, but also speak to an experience many of us can relate to in some capacity. The year 2020 has been full of hopes dashed, plans rearranged, the year we carefully plotted out thrown into chaos. Our business, J.A. Laub Photography, as well as the races and the community around it we love so dearly, was not immune. There’s no sugar coating it; you have to get creative to
keep paying the bills when the majority of your income is supplied by high volume sporting events.
RunTheBluegrass in particular was ready to have a big year, with 2020 being the 10th anniversary. With more than 5,000 annual participants across multiple events, primarily the half marathon, this race is our largest and most beloved, and we’ve been honored to be with them from their beginning in 2011; you can read our 10-year recap on our blog.
Bigger things to come
In spite of Covid, this year has also brought exciting changes that wouldn't have otherwise been possible. Over his quarantined summer, Eric had plenty of time to consider the race he built from the ground up with Co-Race Director Rachel Crabtree and where there might be possibilities to reinvent. This race, normally in March, took place with safety precautions at the beginning of October, and was our first event since early March. And it wasn’t the only shift in plans for RunTheBluegrass.
“From those many weeks and months in quietness were born the ideas of not only expanding toward also hosting a new fall race each year, but expanding out across the country with the entire series, America's Prettiest Half Marathons,” Eric said of his new ideas. “There are so many beautiful places to run across our gorgeous land, it's time to take this show on the road!”
With the addition of Fall Royale at the Kentucky Castle, and with the larger vision to expand the experience of RunTheBluegrass into different parts of America, Eric’s vision is to transform one of Kentucky’s most classic races into a wide and innovative opportunity. It’s this spirit, this willingness to pivot from what we previously assumed, that has defined what makes a business or organization resilient in 2020, and it’s something we, at J.A. Laub Photography, have been challenged by as well.
You may purely know us as race photographers – something we continue to be committed to in a community we cherish – but our year of cancelled events has given us time to consider what other endeavors we want to (and need to!) press into as this all unfolds. Through our photography, writing, video and creative marketing, we hope to step into a new chapter to highlight the characters that make Kentucky the community it is. Thankfully we’ve already been provided with opportunities to do that throughout the pandemic. We love being storytellers of our clients and our state, and we hope you’ll join us as we make more intentional steps toward that objective in our business.
In the meantime, we remain committed to the work you know and love, including our strong partnership with RunTheBluegrass “since day one. Literally,” Marr kindly spoke of our work with the race, “And I don't think we'll ever part ways, it's been that great of a partnership with them. Not only are their photographs excellent, themselves, but their ability to adapt with ever-changing technology is a huge, huge asset in this day and age! I think our relationship with Abby and Jeff is one of the single best things that RunTheBluegrass has ever forged!”
The appreciation is mutual! With partnerships like this one and the unexpected opportunities a tumultuous year has brought us, we have a lot to look forward to. We’ve loved seeing some of our other partners similarly transform their businesses and we empathize with those who have also been forced to dramatically redefine their organizations through no fault of their own.
Eric’s excitement for the future is evident. “I cannot wait to fully launch our new spring and fall weekend experiences, once everything returns to ‘normal enough!,’” he said. “Our now 11-year old spring weekend will now be called The Original RTB, while our new Fall Royale at The Kentucky Castle will be each October-ish!”
We have the same excitement looking forward to what the future of J.A.Laub Photography can be, and the hope that these reinventions offer us. We hope you’ll join us on the journey!