TRACS organizes, promotes Marathon

TRACS organizes, promotes Marathon

By Derek Hawkins

For the throngs of spectators who crowd the streets every third Monday in April, the Boston Marathon is a one-day event. But for employees and volunteers at TRACS, Inc., a Massachusetts-based sports marketing and event management firm, preparation for the world-renowned race lasts all year.

Since 1985, TRACS has played a major role in organizing and promoting the Boston Marathon. In 1989 TRACS teamed up with John Hancock Financial Services to create the John Hancock Elite Athlete Village, a hosting program that provides housing and other services to the top 25 marathon runners two weeks prior to the race.

This year Northeastern students play a key role in the process.

Northeastern co-ops Emma Oberlander, Lisa Chazanovitz and Danielle Ossher have worked since January at TRACS, where they have assumed responsibilities like recruiting volunteers, promoting the race and hosting the John Hancock-sponsored athletes.

“This is the world’s oldest marathon and some of the top runners from all over the world will be here,” said Oberlander, a sophomore communications major. “Our job is to make them feel welcome and keep up the reputation of the marathon. I’ve never been part of such a world-class event, so I’m excited to be doing this.”

The three TRACS co-ops and Anna Millhiser, a junior communications major who co-oped at TRACS in 2004 and is currently an intern, will spend the next week living and working at the Elite Athlete Village, in the John Hancock Conference Center.

Leading up to April 16, they, along with 75 volunteers, will provide the athletes, and their coaches and families with TRACS services. These include transportation, meals, course tours, health care, hospitality and escorts to and from the race.

“They represent the event, the company, the sponsors, even the country,” said TRACS founder and president Fred Treseler of the co-op students. “They accept a lot of responsibility. They do well because they’re invested in this.”

Prior to working at the Elite Athlete Village, TRACS co-ops were assigned other duties to help prepare for the marathon.

Oberlander helped recruit high school students to participate in Race SpotWatch, a TRACS program that provides WBZ-TV, the only local station covering the marathon, with second-by-second reports on runners’ positions during the race.

Chazanovitz, a middler communications major, helped organize Adopt-A-Marathoner, a program that introduces the culture and lifestyle of Kenyan runners to students at Elmwood Elementary school in Hopkinton, where the marathon begins.

“It isn’t just something special for the kids, but for the athletes, too,” Chazanovitz said.

Ossher, a sophomore journalism major, was in charge of recruiting hosts and scheduling volunteers.

Millhiser, who has volunteered at the Elite Athlete Village every year since her co-op at TRACS, will be in the WBZ studio during the race, along with Treseler, Oberlander and Ossher.

“People come back because they love it,” Millhiser said. “These two weeks leading up to the marathon are so different than the rest of the year. And when the race happens it lasts a few hours, but it feels like only minutes.”

The 111th Boston Marathon will be April 16, beginning with the wheelchair race at 9:25 a.m. The course begins on Main Street in Hopkinton, and ends on Boylston Street in Copley Square.

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