“I love events because you have to execute,” observes marketing grad Lucy Diaz ’01. “They have built-in timelines that drive your activities.”
Diaz is vice president of brand marketing for Tough Mudder, the organization that presents obstacle course races around the country ranging from 5k challenges to the 24-hour World’s Toughest Mudder. She took on the role in January, when the company was coming out of a year of cancelled races and gearing up to restart events safely in the spring.
“I participated in our first event in Atlanta, which was a blast,” Diaz says. “You get out there and see such an endearing side of humanity—people will actually turn around and come back to offer to help you get over an obstacle. Tough Mudder is definitely more about the journey and experience than the results.”
Diaz explains that while the operations side of the organization was handling the nitty-gritty details of putting on safe events that incorporated all the requirements of the state and local governments where they were happening, her marketing team had to figure out new ways to communicate to participants that they should sign up.
“Our message really evolved to be, we want to see you back out there in the mud—people are having fun and you need to be a part of it!” she says.
Diaz’s journey to marketing participatory events like Tough Mudder has taken her through a variety of roles with athletic and fitness organizations: She was
previously CEO of RPM Events Group, best known for its annual Colorado Classic, the western hemisphere’s sole women’s standalone professional bike race. “As an executive, I view myself as a change agent on behalf of women,” she says. “There’s a huge disparity between opportunities for men versus women in sports. Fortunately, sports can be a terrific catalyst for change.”
Before RPM, she was in charge of marketing strategy and its implementation at Denver-based JackRabbit, which owns 68 running specialty stores. Earlier, she was vice president of advertising with Competitor Group, which orchestrates endurance and sporting events, and was event manager with Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio, which does the same for marathons and half marathons.
“My passion is endurance sporting events, both as a participant and as a business,” emphasizes Diaz, who is a four-time marathon finisher, daily runner, and fitness junkie. “That mindset, I believe, places me at eye level with the customer.” As a student at UMass and Isenberg, she favored marketing and management courses for their creativity. “But I owe just as much, perhaps more, to my experiences on the varsity field hockey team,” she says. “It helped me to improve skills like time management and teamwork.”