Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekly Spotlight: Dan Hernandez - Ledesma Rails to Trails 50K

Weekly Spotlight: Dan Hernandez - Ledesma Rails to Trails 50K

Update: We ran a random number generator to pick our winner for the free entry, and congrats to Kerrie F for winner the Comp Entry! Thanks again to Dan for all his efforts (along with Michelle Daniels!) for putting together what will become another GREAT Ultra event!!! 
My very first Spotlight is on Savannah, GA's newest Race Director, good friend, and Mr. "Savannah Running" himself Dan Hernandez and his Ledesma Rails to Trails 50K. The event takes place on Jan 12, 2013 in Savannah, GA and features a 50K, 25K and 5k. The first time event is to benefit the Savannah Rails to Trail with much needed Trail Maintenance and upkeep. Dan and I first met on Twitter almost 3 years ago and has been a runner, a volunteer and a photographer at several of our events over the years.

1. How did you come up with the Race idea?
I’ve wanted an ultra in the Savannah area for several years but I did not know how to go about putting one together.  Then, last Spring I ran into Tim Waz at the Shamrock 5k in downtown Savannah and asked him about doing an ultra in Savannah with the proceeds benefitting the Rails to Trails restoration which has been eroding at an alarming rate.  That started the ball rolling.  In the middle off this past summer, Michelle Daniels, began raising her concerns about the rapidly deteriorating Rails to Trails with the Chatham County Commissioners.  That’s when she and I teamed up in trying to find ways to raise awareness about the Savannah Rails to Trails.
By late August, Tim and I began serious discussions about bringing an ultra to Savannah for the sole purpose of helping in the restoration costs and maintenance of the Rails to Trails.
Here is where it gets even more interesting, - We approach Fleet Feet about putting on a race benefitting the Rails to Trails and what do they recommend?  Yup, you guessed it, doing an Ultra!
2. What is the estimate cost to get the Rails to Trails property repaired?
I do not have the expertise to answer that question but one of the Chatham County engineers told me the problem areas of the trail could be fixed from $25,000.00 to $30,000.00.  Mind you, this is a maintenance fix that would more than likely have to be addressed again in the near future which this engineer actually admitted to me.    
In 2009, the Rails to Trails was built up and restored at a cost of approximately $400,000.00.  In less than three years the trail is back to where it was before the 2009 restoration, unfortunately.
3. What kind of role has Social Media played in the role of advertising this first year event?
The short answer?  An immensely significant role!
I do not believe this race would be happening if not for Social Media.  Social Media has allowed us to effectively promote this race without any significant financial cost.  
Through social media we’ve been able to reach runners that have registered for the R2T 50k from as far away as New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, Puerto Rico.  
In promoting this race we’ve effectively used Facebook, Youtube, dailymile, twitter, Pinterest and web blogs.
4. What is your running background?
I’ve been a dedicated runner for the last twelve years.In that time frame I’ve run numerous 10ks and half marathons, 2 ultras, 1 marathon. One of my big highlights in running came in 2008 when I ran my first ultra marathon, the Boulder 100.  I placed second overall with a finish time of 24:07.  It’s funny but I made the leap from half-marathon to 100 miler.  I then, did the marathon afterward. The upcoming Delirium 24 hour race will be my next quest for 100 miles.  This time I hope to complete 100 miles in less than 24 hours.
5. As a first time Race Director what has been the largest lesson you've learned? 
Oh my gosh, how much I have learned!!  It’s difficult to decide on just the one biggest lesson learned because there are so many things I’ve had to learn and learn fast!  But, if I must answer what the one biggest lesson learned so far, I would have to say it’s the importance of being organized.  There is so much to putting together a race but it will not happen if you do not organize every aspect of the race.  You have to compartmentalize every aspect of this race and be ready to answer any and every question a potential sponsor(s), runners, government entities etc. ask.  And, believe me, you will be expected to know what you’re talking about and how you are going to make it happen.  
6. Where can runners find more details on the event?
There are several online sources where you can get information on this event.  
  1. Lowcountryultras is hosting the LSM R2T on it’s website:
  2. We have a Facebook page that gets updated daily:
  3. Fleet Feet Savannah also has a page for the R2T Ultra:
  4. Lastly, the registration site, ultrasignup.com

 Thanks Dan, we appreciate you giving us the additional insight on the race and look forward to the event!!! If you'd like more information on the Ledesma Rails to Trails 50K, please visit one of the links above.

FREE STUFF!!! Dan has agreed to donate a comp entry into the 2013 Ledesma Rails to Trails race to one lucky reader. Be sure to sign the Guest Book and tell us why you want to race for free!!!! I'll be pulling one lucky winner on December 8 at 8:00pm.

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