From our perspective here up on the Flyers Blog mountaintop, planning and implementing the broad array of Flyers events and services involves a tremendous amount of volunteer initiative, work, time, energy, caring, and love 💖.
All of us Flyers can--and hopefully do-- feel gratitude for what goes on behind the scenes. We recognize the selfless efforts of Flyers, and we Blogkeepers believe sharing what goes on outside of the public eye may help inspire even more of us to volunteer and contribute to keeping the Flyers running smoothly and happily.
With this in mind, we think you'll all enjoy learning about what it takes to be the Flyers Blog Reporter as Francesco Presutti shares his perspective, goals and ideals!
-- Dave Kleckner and Melissa Slobin
I am Private Eye Francesco P, your Race Reporter, and I will be your guide on this behind-the-scenes journey to shed light on the Flyers race reports posted on the Blog.🧐 Each report provides highlights of the results of the club and notable member achievements at NYRR races, but also are intended to go beyond simply reporting on race times.
Follow me as we embark together through the six classic detective questions: why, what, when, how, who and where!🕵
#1 WHY Me?
Our first detective question is the one I asked myself when I received an email from Flyers Blogkeepers Dave Kleckner and Melissa Slobin inviting me to become the Flyers Blog Race Reporter. According to Dave and Melissa, they reached out to me because they know that I'm very detail-oriented -- a quality they felt is ideal for the detective work involved in sleuthing and revealing the intricate details of Flyers race results -- an assignment that they felt would be far more complex than may be obvious to even our most meticulous Flyers. I was surprised to be invited, but excited too.
Accepting the offer was a no-brainer, and not without good reason. I have always loved writing stories about people. I was in high school when one of my short stories won a literary award. My parents drove me to a small town 35 miles east of Florence to accept the award. It was a small, unpretentious medal.🥇
Little did I know that my quirky medal would become the first of a series of oversized medals I would receive for each marathon I completed during the coming years. My medal reappeared in a box during the recent move of my household belongings from Brussels to New York. Until then, I had forgotten all about my literary award, but I never stopped writing! Writing about my fellow Flyers – I thought – would be a terrific opportunity to get to know them.
#2 WHAT is Racing About?
My next detective question is tricky. A race is first and foremost about competition and results. A good place to start in writing a race report is by gathering and rearranging all relevant data. There are tons of data in the NYRR race results database, and going through all of them after a race may take up to an hour. Luckily the NYRR website allows the user to filter results by team, so whoever is registered with NYRR as a Flyer pops up on my screen.
It is pretty straight forward to spot and pay tribute to the top 3 male and female Flyers runners (or the top 5 in the case of club points races). I find it very important to give credit also to those who won an age-group award. This requires a bit more of work, as some of our more senior runners may appear close to the bottom of the team’s list. I also go to the award webpages to doublecheck that I am not missing any award-winner. Finally, I identify all the Flyers who finished in the top 10 of their age group and those with a high age-group performance percentage, the AGP%.
I mention any Flyer who hits an AGP threshold of 70%, which is conventionally regarded as regional class level (80% is typically national class, and 60% is local class). To be sure that I am not missing any Flyer, it is not enough to scroll the list, and I need to check many of our team’s finishers one by one. Whenever a race counts as a club points race, I look up the results of each of our 10 teams (open, 40+, 50+, 60+ and 70+, both men and women), and I check where each team stands in the cub points standing after the race.
Number crunching is important, but it's not enough. Any reader would agree that there is more to racing than listing results and awards.
To learn how to do a good job as a blog race reporter, and to write about what really matters to my fellow Flyers, I thought the fundamental question I needed to ask myself was (and this is where the detective question gets tricky): what do we like about running races? And why do we like them at all?
We know running per se can be both addictive and fun, but what makes us put up with the physical, mental, and emotional exertion of competition – or even crave it? What pushes thousands of us to line up at the start of each NYRR race (other than to get a guaranteed entry to the New York City Marathon through the NYRR 9+1 program, and why does anyone sane and in their right mind want to compete in a marathon anyway)?
There is no single answer to these questions. Racing makes runners more self-aware of their pace, form, and cadence – and that is the running coach in me speaking. But there can be an array of motives behind the choice to compete in a race.
As human beings we come from different places. As athletes we embrace competitive running to satisfy all sorts of impulses within us. Our differences are what makes us stronger. They are the beauty of belonging in a community of athletes.
My job was only just starting to take shape when I first began to consider what to include in the race reports, and it was quickly dawning on me that a race report could not be only a list of results. It had to be about the dreams and the aspirations of the runners in our amazing Flyers’ team.
#3 WHEN We Dream About Running.... 🌈
Considering dreams and aspirations led me to my third detective question: what do Flyers dream about when they dream about running? What do YOU dream? If in your dreams you win the New York City Marathon, thumbs up, my dear overachiever!
But certainly not all Flyers dream to win the New York City Marathon, and not all are overachievers. To test the ground, I asked Blogkeepers Dave and Melissa what they dream about when they dream about running. Dave’s reply was that he has a recurring dream/nightmare that he gets hopelessly lost on the course while running the Boston Marathon. I loved that. Melissa told me that when she dreams about running, running is effortless and feels so good. Not bad either.
Not getting lost in a race, running easy and effortless: Dave’s and Melissa’s replies exemplify the variety of aspirations in our running community, which are usually more down-to-earth than winning a big glamorous marathon. I would love to hear from all of you what you dream about when you dream about running!
#4 HOW to Make a Report Engaging?
My goal is to make a report speak to the people about the people. But the massive field of a typical NYRR race makes it impossible to speak about all the Flyer participants. How can I still make my report appealing to a large, diverse audience? My fourth detective question was clearly the most daunting of all. This is where I turned to Flyer Dana M.for inspiration.
Dana had written race reports on the Flyers’ website homepage for 17 years. Her lively, entertaining reports within the scroll-down menu of the former FLYERS NEWS FLASH motivated hundreds of Flyers, myself included, for which she deserves huge credit. I spoke with Dana about her job as race reporter.
“Doing the race reports for 17 years was not part of a plan for the website,” she told me. “Over time, the race reports started taking shape in a format that was fun to write, didn’t take an excess of time, and let me indulge what my mom always nicely called a quirky sense of humor.”
Ah, Dana’s legendary humor!😂 I asked her what she did to keep her reports so interesting and entertaining.
“I honestly didn’t do anything except write with plenty of adjectives,”Dana said. “A little embellishment, and a headline that I tried to make a little funny, a little snarky, or worded so that it might make people laugh inappropriately.” Dana did not need to make things up in her reports to keep them engaging. “With all the exciting race stories that unfolded every week,” she told me, “there was always something interesting to try showcasing in words!”
#5 WHO Do We Talk About in a Blog Race Report?
With Dana setting a very high bar, I have some pretty big running shoes to fill!🩰👟👠👢👡 A good way to grab readers’ attention – I figured – would be to let the Flyers speak for themselves and join in the storytelling. The fact is not all of us may come on top of the team or win an age group award or score a high age-grade performance percentage.
But we all have a story to tell and a personal achievement to be proud of. Your achievements can bring something extraordinary to the team. Whether you are proud because you set a PR, you ran with a child or a parent or a puppy, you managed to keep a streak alive, you ran in a neighborhood you are especially attached to, or you demonstrated unique singing skills in singing the national anthem at the start of the race, you are all winners, and I want the whole Flyers community to read about your win in our Blog Race Reports so that we can all celebrate together with you.
That is why I make a point of listening to different voices and getting quotes of people who have a significant connection with the race, and an important story to share.
Interviewing people is probably what I love most about writing my race reports. It is also the most challenging part of the work, because it requires picking someone who has a particular story to share in connection with the race.
I seldom know which Flyer I will feature in a report before the race. My pick usually becomes apparent after the race, as information starts flowing in about the race through my informal contacts. Think for example of the Grete’s Great Gallop 10K last August. When it turned out that the Flyer who led the women’s team, Jeanhie H, had just returned from Norway, Grete’s home country, less than 48 hours before the race, there could possibly be no doubt she would be the one.
Once I know who I want to feature in the report, I reach out to the person to check if they are available for a short interview and I ask them a couple of targeted questions. The response is usually enthusiastic, and I quickly rearrange and edit it in the overall story. I loved it when Jeanhie H talked about her runs during her trip to Norway and her plans on running the Oslo Half in 2023!
Unfortunately, there are plenty of Flyers outside my network, and there are loads of nice stories I am missing out. Please let the Blog Team Know of Your Achievements So We Can Celebrate Together!
#6 WHERE does the Teamwork Start?
Once I have finished writing my draft race report, I call into action the rest of the Blog Team -- Blogkeepers Dave and Melissa. Their input to the process is terrific. They take turns in reviewing my draft for editing and embellishing, add photos to the piece, and format it to publish on the Flyers website, Melissa usually beautifies the graphics with her own personal selection of emojis 😍💕💥
After each report is published on the blog, the Blogkeepers promote it via Flyers Facebook and via Flyer Lisa Konorty on Flyers Instagram. We want you to know as soon as the report is out there for you to read and enjoy!
Pulling out and aggregating all the relevant data from the NYRR database is tricky. Mistakes or omissions occasionally slip through the cracks. We once forgot that a run was a club points race, and another time we did not mention an age team award. It hurts when mistakes happen, and all we can do is correct the piece and apologize. No one is perfect after all! 🙏
And There You Go! 😊
The Blog Team hopes you like thenew format of the Flyers race reports. 2022 has been a trial period. Going forward, the team decided we will post comprehensive reports only for the NYRR club points races (there will be 11 of them in 2023), plus a 12th race (to be announced) that will count towards the Flyers awards🏆 according to the club's award guidelines, as well as any additional NYRR half-marathons.
All NYRR marquee events, as they are called in NYRR lingo (such as the NYC Half), will thus be covered. All other NYRR races will still be reported, but in a more succinct way and only on Flyers Facebook.
That’s all folks! Happy New Year to all Flyers!🎉 Enjoy running in the new year – and we hope you enjoy the race reports!
NY Flyers Blog Race Reporter, #NYRRstaff