A few years ago while I was running a race in Alexandria I heard an announcer playing music on an iPod then he called out my name as I crossed the finish line. I remember thinking that was so cool. At that point I was already a DJ with my own business and thought what if all races had a DJ at the finish line? The next day I found an email list of local race directors and created a race day DJ package. The first phone call I got, about 10 minutes after I sent my email blast, was from Lisa [Reeves]. Lisa booked me to DJ my first race.
Pacers Races were growing in number and as their events schedule grew so did my race day DJ work. Currently I do about 35 races a year and it all started with one email blast. Race day energy is always is great. I have 3 hours of pure energy from runners and I feed off of their energy and adrenaline. There is no “off season” in my schedule.
On race day I am out there at 6 or 6:30am so I am ready to start announcing an hour before the runner start time. We don’t want runners who do, to come out at the crack of dawn to dead air; my role is to get the energy started and keep it going. Runners are already aware of race logistics but I am there to make all of the announcements, remind everyone about the course, water stops, and the awards ceremony afterwards. I provide the soundtrack for the race experience.
There is a sizzling energy before a race. I play whatever gets you pumped up in the morning and gets the runners out there bouncing and revved up for the race. People love when popular music gets mixed up, from disco to present day. I want them out there dancing, keeping their feet moving, and it is not that difficult to do. The key is to play upbeat stuff and if I play something slow it is funny or within the theme of the race. The majority of Pacers Races have a theme and I try to keep the theme in mind with the music I play but also keep it unique. At Love the Run You’re With I played love songs that you don’t usually hear at a race while at St. Pat’s Run and Four Courts Four Miler I will play upbeat Irish music. Pacers set the standard and realized there is a difference between a quiet race and one with a soundtrack.
When I was starting out I would keep track of what music people move to, what they respond to. Basically anything you hear from any chart’s top 10 lists. Bruno Mars and Beyoncé are the most played because they are the most requested. People also respond the Spice Girls and boy bands from the 90s. Music from anyone’s college years or senior year of high school is also hot and 80s music never fails. When runners are in the starting shoot I want to keep them moving those last 10 minutes before the gun goes off.
During the races I am right at the start finish/line, right there with the race timers. I see people who are running their first race, or friends where one is a runner and the other is not. I see people who have made a commitment to running as part of their weight loss program. There was a woman who ran every race of the Crystal City 5k Fridays series and each week I could see her getting faster and better. I literally am right there as someone meets his or her fitness goals. We had a proposal, promposals, kids setting records, and Jamie [Watts] coming up that hill in Clarendon. It is so cool to be at the front line to see all of those moments.