Behind-the-Scenes of a Major Marathon: Eli Asch on Directing Big Races

A curious trend happened this year. Amidst a global pandemic, more marathons have been logged than before, despite nearly zero official races being held.

marathons in a pandemic

Not only are people running more, they are running faster! At least that is what the 2020 Strava statistics indicate: 3 times more marathons were logged in 2020 than 2019 and 55% of users set personal best times for the standard race distances.

I’m in awe of the running community. We’ve talked a lot about the challenges of running through a pandemic with pro runners Madeline Strandemo and Molly Huddle. But despite the difficult times, our combined successes have surpassed anyone’s expectations.

Who runs a solo marathon, anyway? Turns out a lot of people do! I look forward to seeing where that momentum takes us in the years ahead.

Surely, races are coming in the not-so-distant-future (fingers crossed). For those of you who have felt sidelined by the lack of goal events, you will find glimmers of hope in today’s conversation.

We recently covered what it takes to put on a virtual global race and today we’re looking at the ins and outs of planning a major city marathon.

Eli Asch Steers the Marathon-Planning Ship

Eli Asch is currently the Race Director for the Twin Cities Marathon. Prior to this role, he directed the California International Marathon (CIM), which hosted two USATF marathon national championships. Under his direction, CIM was the fastest-growing major marathon in America.

Eli also served as the Logistics and Operations Manager for the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon events. He holds an MBA in Sports Business from San Diego State University and a BA in English from Whitman College, where he was captain of the cross country team.

I wanted to bring Eli on the podcast to share the details of what it takes to put on a major marathon race. He isn’t shy about sharing insights from a race director’s perspective, as you can hear in this clip:


Eli and I cover many other topics, including:

Enjoy my podcast with Eli and rejoice in the knowledge that races are, in fact, coming back!

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