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The Man Behind The 408K: J.T. Service

posted by Brandon
The Man Behind The 408K: J.T. Service

Remember J.T. Service from the Olympic Trials Marathon 5 years ago? If not, watch this video. Service has gone from putting himself on the start line in great shape to putting 5,000+ people on the start line. As the founder and president of Soul Focus, Service can be found behind the scenes of The Giant Race, The Kauai Marathon, and The 408K ‘Race to the Row’. Keep reading to learn more about a man leading the way for the next generation of race directors.

1. Give us the elevator speech for your event…

You would need a really long elevator ride to get a proper explanation around the San Jose 408k event.  But basically it’s an 8k in the 408.  San Jose people love them some San Jose and we’ll have 5000 registered in 2013 to prove it.

2. Is Race Directing a part-time gig for you? If so, what is your ‘day-job’?

I’m a full-time race director, full-time entrepreneur and part-time lover.  Footnote Stevie Wonder.

Service in the lime green on the right at The Olympic Trials

Service in the lime green on the right at The Olympic Trials

3. What inspired you to become a Race Director?

Actually I tried to avoid being a race director at first, but once I started getting into the race production world I wanted to be in charge.  I wanted creative control, course control, and a number of other control issues that forced me to become the director.  I have a problem.

4. How involved is your family in your event?

My family is incredibly supportive, but I try not to give them too much work.  However, they have served as registration workers, aid station captains, street marketing team and cheer leaders.  They’re nicer than I am.


Creative Marketing 101

5. What is the biggest challenge you face as a Race Director?

The details.  I’m strong with the concepts, the marketing, and the feel.  However, I have to force myself to drill into the details and that is where the magic is.  The magic is in the boring little details.

6. What is the most rewarding part of being a Race Director?

Three-things come to mind.  Standing in front of the start line and realizing that on some level you brought all of these people here.  There is a quick sense of calm and that is rewarding.  Second, when an event just flows perfectly and the runners are full of praise.  That feels good.  However, recently the best part has been watching my race team gel.  I have the best team in the business.  Marketing, course management, and volunteers.  My team could beat up your honor student.

7. How do you choose your charity?

We chose the Pat Tillman Foundation based on local relevance, they support a cause that I’m passionate about (veterans scholarships) and they’re just good people.

8. Do you have a hard time delegating tasks?

This used to be my biggest challenge, but now I’m delegating machine.  Remember the team mentioned above…they do everything.

9. How do you celebrate a successful event?

Beers, Henry’s Hi-Life Steaks in San Jose, more beers, and a then press release. Too often in that order.

10. What do you believe incentivizes a person to run your event?

There are number of elements including clever marketing, solid branding, a “fun feel” and then they keep coming back if we do our job right.  Our job is deliver what we promise, and at its core that promise is simply a good experience.



Service knows how to inspire

11. What do you predict for the future of Road Racing?

The Color Runs and Mud Runs are bringing us all fresh meat.  Hopefully those events don’t ruin the people’s expectations before they get to the roads.  I hope they know I’m not going to throw a bunch of paint at them.



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