Is there a way that you can give a little extra today?
My guest on today’s episode is Peter Downing, the Founder of Suffer Better.
Suffer Better inspires athletes to give their all (plus a bit more through charitable contributions and volunteer time).
On the call we discussed a simple idea that can pay big benefits for nonprofits—giving stakeholders multiple ways to participate. Suffer Better does this by putting on races, selling merchandise, providing volunteer opportunities, encouraging special engagement and outreach with elected officials, and offering a variety of donation options.
Another topic of conversation centered around “tangential targeting:” creating ways to engage with audiences who care about similar organizations but who may only be tangential to yours. Outreach to these groups provides a mechanism by which you can reach your targets through an intermediary, which often can be a more powerful connector than a traditional, direct approach.
Peter and I both are involved with The Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance (https://conservationco.org/coba/) and 1% For the Planet (https://onepercentfortheplanet.org), so we are very aligned in our focus on the outdoors and the environment. Our shared mission to give back made for a fun discussion detailing how those objectives align in his work and the events that Suffer Better promotes.
I always enjoy talking with Peter, and I think you are going to love this episode.
Suffer Better: https://sufferbetter.com/
Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance: https://conservationco.org/coba/
Come run/ride in an event and pick up trash, follow the rules, and treat the outdoors with respect.
Listen to the podcast here
Creating Opportunities To Always Give A Little More With Peter Downing From Suffer Better
My guest is Peter Downing. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Suffer Better. It is a great Colorado organization that encourages people, athletes in particular who are out there giving their all for their sport, to give back a little more. One of the things that Peter and I talked about was the idea of creating a variety of different ways for people to give back. Whether donations or volunteering time, participating in a volunteer-type event or going out on one’s own to pick up trash, build trails, and give a little bit back is what Suffer Better is all about and what we talked about. Peter and I are both parts of the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance. We have a lot in common. This was a fantastic show. I always love talking with Peter and hope you enjoy it. Here we go.
Peter, how are you?
I’m great, Stu. Thank you so much. How about yourself?
I am doing very well. We lost power for about six hours, and I was also on a schedule to get a new internet installed, and they were unable to do that because it was so windy. We were fortunate to get that one day.
You’ve got more juice and access so you can do more.
That’s the plan. Since we are confined in our home, still, it seems like, might as well have good internet.
There are three of us all here at my house. My daughter is here from Germany, and my wife is here, so we are all fighting for an office space. It’s fun.
It’s an interesting situation that we are all getting to experience. I certainly have gotten to do a lot more things by being able to work from home. It saves me at least an hour in the car on those days. That’s a plus. I’m trying to look for pluses.
The other thing I do is end up spending more time outdoors. I don’t have to commute. There’s such a nice opportunity to be out in those blue skies. I take full advantage of it.
That’s a great segue into what you are up to at Suffer Better. You guys do a lot of outdoor stuff.
We do. Our whole deal is to essentially engage the endurance community into the whole notion of giving back, especially to protect the places where we all spend so much time. We had to cancel our typically big winter event, part of the Up For Air Series, in 2022, which was a real blow, honestly. It’s one of our best and most popular events. We didn’t get to do that but we’ve got a couple more things coming, and our for a run. Those things are still on the books. We are pretty excited about those things.
When is your next event at least scheduled?
We are still negotiating with a couple of the state parks. We want to have a Ride n’ Tie. I don’t know if you know what those are. It’s a team event, and each team consists of 2 participants, 1 runner, and 1 biker but they are each the other. They switch off or you have about a 20-to-25-mile course, and everybody starts at the same time so that your team starts with a runner and a biker. They do the first 5 miles, then they switch. The runner becomes the biker. The biker becomes the runner. They do the next 5 miles switch again and continue to do that for the duration. It’s super fun.
One of our goals has always been to do a better job of connecting with the mountain bike community. It’s a fun way for us to get runners and riders together since we share so many things. Get us together and commit to something. As with most of our stuff, the proceeds of the event go back to protecting public lands, clean air, and clean water, those things.
Are you still doing that through Conservation Colorado or other organizations you’ve partnered with?
We work with both Protect Our Winters and Conservation Colorado. I know you are familiar with this but there’s this new thing called the 30×30. It has become the buzz in the environmental community as well. The goal is to protect 30% of the land and 30% of the water by 2030. That’s now a national and an international goal. We are tying into those programs as part of this as well.
How many people participate in these events typically?
The Ride n’ Tie will probably be 100 people and 50 teams but our other events are anywhere from 150 to 200, depending upon what we are allowed to do. The COVID freaked a little havoc there. In our last event, our Run in the Fall, we were given all the health protocols we needed to adhere to. We had to limit the number of our participants but we still had 120 crazy runners come out. That was spectacular. It was fun and a great day.
Was that one of those 4, 8, 12-hour type events that you’ve done?
That’s our Up For Air Series. This one was a flat-out 16-mile trail run, which we did up at Staunton State Park off 285.
That’s cool that you got that many people, and we can adjust your protocols to make that work.
It was the most beautiful day I had ever spent in the mountains. The aspens were in full glory. It was warm. This was October 2020. People have not been able to do a live event in a long time. The joy was so evident, and watching all these people relish the idea of being outdoors and together doing all this. It was mind-boggling, honestly. It was such a good day.
How have you adjusted things in these changing times with social distancing and things like that? Was that the only event that you were able to put on in 2020? Did you do some virtual events?
It’s funny. In 2020, our Up For Air Series was the last event that anybody did before the world shut down, so it was early March 2020. The 3, 6, 12, and 24-hour Up For Air event was fun. There was much snow up at Staunton. The first runners up were thigh deep in some places on the trail. It was lovely but we did do a couple of virtual events over the next few months. One was called You Do You, in which people set a goal. Given through turmoil that the country was in, we didn’t even care if it was an athletic goal.
We wanted people to identify something they wanted to strive for and do it. We created all these shareable Google Docs so that people could update one another, and they were all on this form. It was so fun to see the variety of goals, which were quite literally all over the place, everything from learning another language to learning more about people of color, to learn more about this. There were even some athletic ones in there. They would jot down their progress, and other people would chime in and say, “I love that. I’m going to do that.” It was super fun.
How long did that particular challenge take place, for lack of a better word?
We gave them six weeks to identify what they did. They were “required” to provide weekly updates, basically progress reports, and talk about what they were going through. The other piece that was so fun was that they could ask the community for help. If somebody were looking for a resource about something, as they were trying to get to this goal, they would ask the community, and people would chime in and answer that. It was super fun. It was one of those very different things but people loved it and appreciated getting a chance to do something a little different instead of all the other ones.
I liked that out of the box, thinking there in terms of inclusivity. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to have a good time, learn something, and feel like participating in a program and an event. It’s a great community building. I liked some of those challenges. It’s great that people are committing to those types of things.
Setting goals and going after those things is one of the greatest things that we can do these days when there’s so much uncertainty about many other things that you can do. Part of it is having control over something. Many of us feel like, “I have no control over any of this stuff. I’m this leaf getting blown around.” If you have a goal and a process, it gives you a way to get something. That works. A lot of people appreciate that.
It at least creates accountability in both personal and business life. It’s something that a lot of people are challenged with in terms of finding a thing to go after that motivates them enough to feel like they are accountable, at least to themselves, if not a community. By gamifying that or bringing that community into the plan is a great way to tap into our natural psychology. It’s cool.
If you have a goal and you have a process, it gives you a way to go get something.
People liked that too. It’s not like we weren’t graded or anything. We didn’t harp on that but every single person weekly got in there. They honestly said, “I killed it this week or holy cow, I didn’t do anything this week.” They put it out there. I appreciated that a lot.
How are you going to do something similar in 2021?
We have a big challenge going on. It takes place at 5 or 6 different locations now. In Montana and there are three events in Utah. We do the Colorado one. There’s an associated climbing Up For Air component. They’ve all shut down. We are trying again to raise funds for Conservation Colorado and Protect Our Winters. We are doing the 14ers Challenge. The goal is that you can either run it, ski it, bike it, or mix them all. The goal is you have to get to 225 miles and 180,000 vertical feet by June. If you add the distances you will hike and the elevation you would gain to do all of Colorado’s 58, 14,000-foot summits, that’s about what it would be.
Each of those specific things has a Strava Club. People are competing against each other, and the only people in the club are people that have registered for the event. It’s fun to watch all these people going out and getting some serious elevation and miles. We’ve got people already that have got 35,000 vertical feet and 100 miles. It’s fun.
Are you making some revenue on that based upon the entry fee?
Yes. We have a couple of companies that typically have sponsored our things, and they are back for this. They help out a little bit. The other thing that we ask each of our participants to do is to become a fundraiser themselves. They can go and create a fundraising page, which they can share to get their friends, family, colleagues, etc., to support their efforts. When it’s all said and done, we will probably be able to give at least a total of $5,000 back to POW and Conservation Colorado, which is real money. That’s exciting and fun for us.
Have you considered gamifying the fundraising piece where maybe there is some algorithm that you write where if you get more fundraising, then you can reduce the distance or avert?
No, because as we told everybody, “We are not called Suffer Better for nothing.” You got to do that. What we do have is our supporters, the companies that we work with have donated products so that if you reach certain fundraising goals, you can win like a vest from Ultimate Direction or Apparel Focus.
When I ran the New York marathon many years ago, they are probably more than three but there were three basic ways to get into the race. The first was to qualify. That tapped into more elite runners or at least age group elites. The second was a pure lottery. I threw your name in the hat, and hopefully, it got drawn. The third was they had a fundraising charity entry avenue. I don’t remember the dollar figure but you could get your slot opened up based on your fundraising if you raised a certain amount of money.
I don’t think they gamified that. They set limits or numbers where they said, “If you raise $5,000 for one of these charities or get people to sign on to sponsor, and if you race in that fashion, then you will get an entry.” I liked that it made it so that there wasn’t an attainable route to entry into this marquee race if you weren’t an elite and “lucky.” It gave people a little bit of control and allowed them to say, “I’m never going to be able to run fast enough to qualify for this but I know I can raise $5,000 through my network.” It’s an interesting concept.
I know that we did that for the running Up For Air thing. In March 2020, the deal was that if you raised 10X the entry fee, you didn’t have to pay the money. At the 24-hour race, the entry fee was $120. If you raised $1,200, then you waved your fee. I love that idea a lot. Some people are indeed good at that fundraising thing. They can talk to their friends and family out of a buck or two almost any day. I love that there’s a way for them to do that. Otherwise, if you can’t qualify with the time deal, I don’t even know what it is anymore but it’s faster than I go.
It was funny because I qualified with a marathon time at one point. They noticed that their lottery had gotten all out of whack the next year because too many people qualified. They dropped the marathon time by fifteen minutes. It was this ridiculous decrease.
We can’t do that after I’ve qualified.
They grandfathered the people who had already qualified in but it was like, “I have to go because I’m never going to qualify again.” That was the year that the hurricane hit. They canceled the race. Long story short, they readjusted the qualification times at some point and brought them back up to a reasonable level. I ended up being able to qualify again using a half marathon time. I got back in, and that’s how I eventually ran it. There was a period there where it was like, “I guess I’m never going to be able to run New York.”
I’m going to raise some money, I guess.
One of the things that I’ve always wanted to do is create flyers for this. I never pulled the trigger on it but it was a race. I don’t think this is a unique format, but I called it a tortoise chase. I was hoping to create a situation where somebody who had never won a race might have the opportunity to win a race. The format was essentially a time trial, an individual start, seated time trial, where we would take your best 5K or whatever you wanted to put in. With stage people, their start time would go off in some adjusted by time.
The theory was there would be a sprint finish. There would be this huge pack finish. Even if you were the lowest person out there based upon you started first, you might have the opportunity to win a race. That’s where I think that you might be able to tie in. Instead of giving away the race fee, create some mechanism by which someone could “win” by taking time away based upon how much they raise.
That’s super interesting. We got signups but not near any of that I would like. Part of that is it’s pretty daunting when you look at that and say, “Essentially, I got to do at least 40 miles a week, and 30,000 is the feet of averting. That’s a lot. That scared a few people, so that’s good thoughts for next time. We will do that.
It’s something to consider. It might be able to bring in a wider range of people. Instead of people who are like, “I run 200 miles a month, no big deal,” or whatever. Be able to bring in some people and maybe get them off the couch so their fitness would improve. Their outlook on what competing might change. Thinking about all those different ways that you can engage people and allow them to play in the zone in which they are most adept.
That’s a great idea. We have one of the folks in our group. She’s one of these people. She’s a dentist in Michigan. She also runs a gym. In the mornings, she’s always got her crew out in the parking lot, swinging kettlebells and doing all these things. She signed up for it because she’s a trooper but she said, “I have no idea how I will ever get the vert because I’m in a flat place. If I have a hilly run, maybe I get 50 feet.” At 50 feet a day, she said, “It’s going to take me more ways.” Not everybody is totally willing to jump in it, regardless. They want some sense that they are going to achieve that. I like that idea a lot.
One of my friends, Alison Powers, was a national champion road racer on the Olympic ski team for a while. She runs a coaching service called ALP Cycles. She created some fun things where she would do a bingo card and create a whole bunch of stuff that you got to check off if you saw on your ride. The point I’m trying to make was this idea of trying to be inclusive where you can’t put snow on the list if this is running in June. You can put it on there but have something else on there like an alligator so that the people in Florida are going to be able to participate or whatever.
Those aren’t the best examples but the way she constructed the thing was to try to make it so that people all over the country or even the world, in theory, could participate in some fashion and make it inclusive. There were some goals on there, too. One of the squares was to climb a certain number of feet a day. Another one didn’t require climbing or would be difficult to attain if you lived in a hilly place. Maybe I don’t know exactly what that one was but trying to think through ways to make it super inclusive.
I love that idea. That’s one of our challenges anyway. Our name alone tends to draw in more of the hardcore. Finding ways to open that door and grow the community with others that aren’t the, “I do 500 miles a year.” That’s a big challenge for us. Finding ways to open that door and allow more people to come in are great thoughts.
There’s a real opportunity there. It’s hard sometimes to think this way but the person who’s running a three-hour half marathon is suffering as much as the person who’s running a three-hour marathon. They are out there the same amount of time.
I would almost say you are right, for sure. It’s harder for them.
Everyone can suffer better. Even if you are a 45-minute 5K person, you are doing it. I know that one of your tags is 110%. Enabling that in any capacity creates a real opportunity, particularly if you can mobilize some of the elites to be part of the mentoring group within your community.
That’s very true. I love that notion. We have this grant program and have given away a few. Our biggest challenge is raising the money, especially in 2019. One of the groups that have applied for one of our grants is a group that wants to start working with young kids and getting them involved in trail running, especially kids from challenging areas socioeconomically. Otherwise, even the notion of trail running is completely foreign. It’s that same thing and what we all need to do is grow our communities so that we are more inclusive of all of that. Anything we can do to do that is a good thing.
What are the challenges that you are facing there? Is it getting in front of the audience or is it getting them interested? What’s the main obstacle there, do you think?
People don’t always know how to give back.
Being visible enough to more people is our biggest thing. We don’t have a ton of money and a big staff. The mechanisms we use are our events and social media. It only goes so far. Our partners help us a lot but they are sometimes talking to the same audience in many ways. It’s why, for example, running Up For Air was such a great event is because everybody gets that.
We’ve found a lot of ways for people to participate in that without running. We got lots of interested volunteers who were interested, and they were from all over the place and in different groups. That helped to gather some awareness but our biggest challenge is getting bigger and rough so that we can do more than it comes right down to.
That’s the whole nonprofit marketing challenge. It’s figuring out how to expand that mission. It’s great that you have an understanding that there is opportunity there. Are you going after how do we increase that footprint? I know you have a mailing list because I’m on that. How many people are on that list, do you think?
It’s under 2,000. They are all over the place. The majority are, at least, Colorado US but we have these weird little pockets, groups in, say, Western Europe and Australia. They are all over us. It’s interesting. For example, I have a call with a running non-profit in Australia to talk about how we’ve done things and how we can help each other. The mailing list is one thing. We’ve got almost upwards of 4,500 followers on social media. We try hard to be out there on that a lot. The challenge with those things is getting that to stick. Social media is great because somebody likes your picture but they don’t engage. That’s what we need. We need followers who get engaged and either come run, do things, and volunteer with us.
Do you have an ambassador program?
We did. It’s funny. When we first came out the door back in 2014, ’15, we had a pretty robust ambassador program, whether it was how well or poorly we managed is another issue. We had great people all over the country and were very thoughtful about who we picked and why. We had this stellar group but that didn’t seem to grow us. Partly back then, we didn’t have our events.
Now that we have our events, it might be worth revisiting them because now we will have something more tangible instead of a way of thinking that would attract people. That’s something we have been bouncing around with a little bit lately. One of the things we would love to do is do some fun little film about what we are doing that we could get out there. It costs money too.
It’s money or time, probably both but if you have a good concept and a good story, it doesn’t have to be a feature film. There are certainly a lot of opportunities to get those things in front of people. Now it’s more challenging because film festivals are struggling a little bit but I know that there are quite a few adventure film-type festivals or outdoor film festivals here in the state that are always looking for materials to screen.
That would be fun. The very best job I have ever had was as Film Festival Director of an outdoor adventure film festival back in the ‘90s. I love the whole idea of getting all these creative things and people together to share something. They are, in a way, magical in how they work. I look at what some of them have done between Telluride and BAMF and how they’ve survived over the years. It’s so impressive to me that I like the idea.
There’s a big enough market for it that is getting it out there. Leveraging partners as well, so you have a roughly 2,000-person mailing list. That’s a pretty good-sized mailing list. We could help do some things there that we can talk about. Leveraging the power of that extended network, where if you have something special, whether that’s an event or a piece of content that you’ve created like a short movie or even tips on things are valuable. Particularly if you have access to some of these people that have a ton of experience in the backcountry or ultra-running, or what have you leaning on those sponsors or partners that you have to get out to their extended lists because they often have a much wider reach.
We are connected with a lot of the big dogs in that universe. We should do more with that. That’s a great idea. Sometimes our newsletter is the perfect place to incorporate that stuff. Otherwise, the things we could share on social media that’s meaningful. It’s good calls on that, for sure.
Coming back to your lists, so one of the things that we’ve found can be helpful is to come at those relationships from a position of sharing the information, as opposed to necessarily asking for support. One of the things I’ve seen work well, Golden Gate 30/30 is held up here in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which is about 3 miles from my house. I’ve run it a couple of times. The race director was looking for ways to get people engaged the second time I ran it. She created a training program. I’m still on the list, even though I’m not running all that much anymore. In 2020, she had one of the elites she’s partnered with. He may also be a coach who came up with a coaching plan and gives that away alongside the registration fee.
If you signed up by a certain point or there was some exclusivity component to it, there was a training plan attached. She asked for volunteer help, and this is where I came into the picture since I live up here and was running on course pretty much every weekend anyway. She was like, “Can you lead some groups?” We started doing weekly runs on the course. That got a lot of people up here and engaged in the program and felt like they were part of this community.
It’s such a great idea. Megan, who is the Raised Director, is a friend. I am amazed. She’s done an extraordinary job. Those are killer ideas. When we can do our Up For Air Series, and if we offered people a chance to come up and run the course a couple of weeks before, I guarantee you that people would eat that up. I’m like you in a way that my stellar running days are slipping away. There are plenty of people in the gang that would probably more than happily lead groups. I can see us having faster ones, medium ones, slower ones, and the walk and talk ones.
For lack of a better description or phrase, that opportunity to rub elbows with some elites because there are lots of people who would love to start a run. It was with Tony Krupicka back in the day. If I had the opportunity to even start a run with him, that would be an amazing experience.
That’s about as far as it would go for me. Speaking of him, I saw something about him. He’s had injuries and hasn’t been running so much but I saw he posted something about how he took a quick trip down and did rim to rim to rim at the Grand Canyon. He was super excited because it wasn’t his fastest but he still did it in seven and a half hours. When you think about it, that’s unbelievable. That’s faster than I ever did. I love stuff like that.
Back when I used to run ultras and follow him, he had a couple of round trips faster than to the top. I wasn’t a great ultra-runner but I wasn’t horrible. His round trip on longs was pretty much the same as it took me to get to the top. In green mountain, at one point, he was running green every day or something. His round trip was basically what it would take me to get to the top.
It’s those people and guys like that. What I love about them is it looks so effortless for them. They are designed for that. I love that they figured out that’s where it goes. It’s like Phelps as a swimmer. The guy was designed to be a swimmer. Fortunately, somehow, he ended up being one. We talked with HOKA, one of our great sponsors, about starting up a run club with them because they have the same thing.
They don’t have enough bodies to be everywhere. That’s interesting to us as well. We’ve started working more closely with a local nutritionist. She’s going to be adding content to our newsletters. Going back to your thoughts about adding valuables stuff, as opposed to asking and she wants to do a regular piece, which is super great for us because nutrition is one of those things that can make or break your day. She’s great. She lives up in Jamestown.
In that same vein, one of the things that you might try is instead of sending out a monthly newsletter that has eight things in it, send out more frequent value-driven single items, and you could segment your list. You could ask people if they would be interested in either running or other endurance nutrition tips and try to peel people off into specific categories. Are you more interested in running? Are you more interested in distance cycling or wherever your categories fall?
When you do that, do you send them almost a poll when you send it out? Do you send one out that says, “We are going to start doing this, tell me what you want to hear about,” and go from there? Most people would always respond.
There are a variety of different ways that you could tackle that problem. The first one would be to start sending out more frequently. If you have access to the nutritionist who’s willing to put some content together, if you send out once a month now, once every couple of weeks, maybe send out a nutrition-specific email, that’s like, “We have been trying to create more value for our community, and this person is onboard. Here’s a nutrition tip.” After you’ve done a few of those, you might be able to send out a survey that says, “What other stuff would you be interested in?” That way, your list can help you create content or understand more about where their interests lie?
Yeah, great idea. We have been thinking about that a lot and trying to figure out how to make sure that we are giving something useful always. There are enough give review places that we wouldn’t do that probably but providing training advice or other ways to get involved. One of the other things we want to figure out how to do is get more people involved in the trail maintenance to step up and join that effort somehow. Sometimes, the perception is that we all go out and play a lot but we don’t give back on that score.
There’s a new program from COMBA, Colorado Mountain Bike Association, called the Single Track Collective, which is all about getting a variety of trail users to step up so that it’s not even branded COMBA. It doesn’t look like it’s a mountain bike thing. It’s a trail users thing. That’s an interesting thing that we’re going to get more involved in coming up.
Trying to give people knowledge about things is the first step. Some communities tend to do a little better job with the volunteer piece. If you can create the knowledge and the understanding, I would say that’s the first step. The second step that I like is to give people a variety of different ways to participate. I know that ultrarunners and distance runners, in particular, are pretty finicky about their days off because they have a plan. They are sticking to it. It’s a little tough sometimes to get them to think about taking time to give back in a time capacity but a lot of them could give back in a monetary capacity.
Being very inclusive in terms of opportunities to spread the word is the other thing that is a potential opportunity. Running and cycling are very community-based activities. Even though you are burning a lot of miles by yourself, you usually have a crowd around you that you would latch onto or talk to regularly. You are encouraging people to donate either time, money or both. If they can do that, share and get involved that way. Share that messaging and that mission with their bigger groups.
There is much conversation about the “community.” That being the community of trail runners and they tend to be good people who are invested in the outdoors. Often, it’s the same old story that people don’t always know how to give back in that way. For us to find other ways for them to do that is a good thing. I love that idea.
It comes back to that you don’t know until you know. If you can create a mechanism by which that knowledge is being distributed, and you are making it easy to share and get to that information, that’s the first step.
Pay attention when you’re out there. Pick something up if you’re on the trail.
I keep telling myself, “I can’t do all of those things. I can’t do this and do that.” If I can help introduce other people to some of those things so that ultimately what needs to get done gets done, that’s the win. People love being part of that. That’s solid and good stuff.
You are building this community of people who are enthusiastic about the outdoors’ and activities. Many of them are very enthusiastic about very extreme activities outdoors. You are taking that one step further, which is how you can give back a little bit to this activity or the places you enjoy, whether that’s doing a trash day or a trash jog or plogging. Encouraging one day a month of the slowdown it’s going to be good for your training anyway. Go out and do the trash run.
I don’t know about you but I have yet to have been on a trail run where I didn’t see something that I ought to pick up. It’s the nature of it these days.
There’s an education component to that. We are trying to think about that Venn diagram of all of this overlap and figure out where those sweet spots lie where all of us are in the outdoor, both environmental and playing as a community. If we can figure out where those overlaps occur, that’s where there’s going to be a lot of power.
I feel like it’s pretty essential. I’m sure it’s true where you are too but I have never seen the trails as busy as in 2020. It’s overwhelming in a way. I get it because it’s one of those things we can all do to clear our heads and find something normal. We are going to love it to death if we don’t start taking some of these steps that we all need to do so that my kids and their kids get to enjoy and appreciate the same things.
The first show I did was with Anna from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. They have a great trail building and maintenance program. They also do community gardens and some neat things like that. One of the things that she said, and I may have my numbers wrong a little bit here but they were pretty much this dramatic that 90% of Coloradans self-identify as outdoor people, and less than 1% volunteer to do any trail work. There’s a huge opportunity there.
You can get wrapped up in those numbers and be sad about that or say, “How low is that bar?” If we could get 5% of the people to give back or 10%, those are not big numbers to hit. There’s so much opportunity there. It does start with education and letting people know don’t cut switchbacks. It’s all of these things that you don’t know until you know.
I’ve always liked that keep it single stupid. It’s like, “Why are you going over there to go around me? Stop? What are you doing?”
Step off the trail, let people pass, and step back on the trail. Certainly, a big challenge these days as people is trying to social distance. Those are great content ideas for your newsletter and your blog. Getting that message out, maybe you could do a quick video of five trail tips and show how to and not pass somebody on the trail. Hopefully, it starts a conversation and gets people thinking about it more.
That’s one of those things that would be fun and somewhat useful. I like that idea a lot.
This has been super fun, Peter. I’m glad you were able to join me here.
You and me, I’ve got a bunch of great tidbits that I’m going to play with and figure some new things out. That’s exciting for us.
What were your top 2 or 3 takeaways?
New ways to engage the crew and get some new content out there. Find other ways to offer educational pieces or switch the newsletter up a little bit. The other thing that came from this was that it wasn’t a direct thing but it also made me realize that it goes back to what you and I do as part of COBA. That is that there are a lot of businesses that do care about the outdoors but that aren’t directly engaged in the outdoors. It tells me that I ought to be talking to more of those people. In some ways, it’s that same old story.
If you are only talking to the same people that believe in what you believe, you’re not changing much. I can potentially see them as sources of volunteers and other kinds of support that would be super interesting. That came out of that conversation of opening some doors and wanting to be more inclusive and inviting. That took a little root there. That’s good for them.
How can people find your organization? What’s the best way to get in touch?
Follow us on Instagram. We are @SufferBetter go to our website and sign up for the newsletter. There’s one of those ubiquitous pop-up forms. If you sign up, you don’t see it again. That’s the beauty of that. I’m easy. I’m Peter@SufferBetter.com. If you got a question, you got something you want me to know, or ways can think we can do something different, I’m always happy to get an email.
I love our conversation. I like talking about things but I also want to try to foster some action. What action would you want people to take after reading this?
A couple of things. Pay attention when you are out there, pick something up if you are on the trail, follow the rules, and the etiquette’s super simple. Be nice to each other. Remember that we are visitors here and treat what’s out there with respect and fellow trail users nicely. Run with us. What the heck? We would love to see you. If you do this, Ride n’ Tie, come run and ride with us if we do this. That’s the best thing. Those are fun.
That sounds like a cool event. I’m excited to learn more about it.
I will expect to see you at the start line, my friend.
We will see. I need to get my running chops back up and stop falling off my bike. Thanks for coming on. I appreciate It. Go outside and have some fun.
It’s always nice to talk to you anyway. I appreciate the time and your thoughtfulness. Those things make a huge difference to me, and it’s appreciated.
It’s my pleasure.
There you have it, another great episode of Relish This. Thanks for reading. If you would like to learn more about how to apply the audience engagement cycle to expand your organization’s mission, there are two things you can do. You can go to MissionUncomfortableBook.com to download a copy of my book. While you are there, you can get your purpose-driven marketing score to see where you can unearth some gold for your organization. If you would like to go back to past episodes of the show or sign up to be a guest, go to RelishStudio.com/podcast. That’s it for this episode. I will be back for another great episode.
- Suffer Better
- Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance
- Protect Our Winters
- Up For Air Series
- ALP Cycles
- Run in the Fall
- 14ers Challenge
- Strava Club
- Single Track Collective
- Anna Zawisa – Past Episode
- Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado
- @SufferBetter – Instagram