by: Pat Fellows
As the year comes to an end, there’s ample to be thankful here at FJRWHQ. It’s been a year of big change, many team miles completed, milestones big and small, and fifteen races produced. Over 35,000 runners and triathletes graced our starting lines, and for that we thank you. As I was contemplating the contents of the last newsletter of the year, I thought I’d take the time for a proper introduction of our team, what we do, and our year in review. Well, review first then intros!
2019 started as it always does, with The Louisiana Marathon. This was our 8th running and it was eventful. After a Saturday morning that saw us with our first ever cancellation due to severe weather, our Governor, John Bel Edwards, would not be outdone, and ran with Ainsley’s Angels, around the State Welcome center, to finish the 5k. What a testament to getting it done. Sunday saw a brisk day and a completion of the half and full with no more rain and an Olympic Qualification by our female champion and friend of the race, Rachel. What an incredible moment to be a part of.
The spring came at us fast and furious with the Mardi Gras Mambo, Amazing Half Marathon and Tuscaloosa Half Marathon as well as our team’s second trip to the Skyway 10k in Tampa Florida, a race we will now be producing for the Armed Forces Families Foundation. Triathlon season would be on top of us, right after the Huey P. Long Bridge run, a New Orleans favorite.
This year we took the time to spend 3 days doing a company retreat of sorts. All the team members met in Bay St. Louis for planning and discussions on how we wanted to progress as a company. After some back and forth we decided to merge two companies, FRESHJUNKIE Racing and Wattigny Enterprises. Without too much complication, the team just made formal, the working partnerships of the previous 3 years and a much larger group was formed. For the second half of the year, the team would take on expanded roles as partners.
Since our inception in 2013, FRESHJUNKIE Racing has gone from two guys mostly coaching triathletes and runners, to one of the most respected race production companies in the nation, with a little coaching on the side. For the last six years we have slowly built a team that is mostly self sufficient for all the needs of race production. The team is:
Jonathan Dziuba- Race director and head of financing. Likes long walks on the beach, puppy breath and bubble baths Dislikes mean people.
Patrick O’brien- Video production, Course director, part time PT. Has 19 kids and the coolest banana yellow 72 Travelall.
Jennifer Macha- Creative/Marketing director. Dance contest and boomie producer extraordinaire. City girl who says she lives in the country, but who only kind of does.
Mike “on the mic” Wattigny- Communications director, World renowned race announcer, nicest guy on our team, former drug pusher.
Patrick Fellows-Retail director, Ops, Coach Slightly above average long exerciser, the old man.
Whoa Nely Ward- Athlete Support and Volunteer Coordinator. AKA The glue that holds all of the above together. She’s the best.
Craig Sweeney-Sweeney Enterprises- Sponsorship Director for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon and Louisiana Marathon as well as FJR events. Ultimate glass is half-full guy.
This band of merry makers went into July ready to attack the second half of the race season with renewed energy and a singular focus on making our races the best in the industry. We didn’t have to wait long until we put on Baton Rouge’s version of the St. Jude Walk and 5k. This was our second year helping produce this event for this incredible charity that raised over $600,000 for St. Jude this year.
In October, we headed to Mandeville, LA and the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain for the tenth running of the Northshore Half Marathon. This run through Fountainbleau State Park and beautiful Old Mandeville is a not to remain hidden gem of the race season with mild temps and moss covered oaks.
November is for the FJR team, SHOWTIME! We started with 2000 runners converging in Mobile, AL for the Battleship 12k, a run to honor those who served. This unique point to point event runs from Spanish Fort, AL along old Hwy 98 and ends at the USS Alabama. It coincides with Veteran’s Day week for a great celebration of those who served in all of the branches of the US Military. We follow that with two turkey trots on the same day in two different towns (Baton Rouge Turkey Trot and Tammany Turkey Trot). From there it’s a long weekend, and December hits with a bang.
This years third running or the Tiger 10k was sweet indeed, with the LSU Tigers winning the SEC Championship on the day before and the number one seed in the College Football Playoff announced post race on the jumbo tron at the after party. To say it’s a great time to be an LSU Tiger is an understatement! To finish in the shadows of the greatest stadium in the world is as unique a running experience as you’ll find. In 2020, we plan on being back on the 50 yard line (as well as hoping for a national championship)!
As I complete this story, our team is recovering from the final race of 2019, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon. Held in my home town(s), this race is the best kept secret in the marathon space. A scenic point to point race with the Gulf of Mexico to your right the whole way, racers get to soak up the run with us every year. Our fourth year was our best to date and we can’t wait to go back.
If you’ve stuck it out this long, thank you. Your time is valuable to us and we are honored to have you run with us. As we slow down for a week before the launch of 2020, we look back with pride on what we’ve accomplished this year as well as what’s to come. Thanks for everything and as always. Hugs and high fives.