Target Veterans

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Veterans of war are an easy target. Everyone loves to say they support the troops. It’s a can’t lose message. I’d argue it’s the lowest common denominator in terms of something most American’s can agree on. The men and women within our armed services do our dirty work. They also do our best work in terms of taking our countries most valued principles and valiantly spread them throughout the world. Insert democracy here.

But do vets really get the respect they deserve? Politicians pull praise like it’s coming out of the back of a clown car like a never ending stream.. Imagine that, politicians and clowns in the same sentence. The stroking is so often exchanged and tapped that it starts to feel like a country song cliché. A thin veil of stunted recognition. Maybe it’s the NFL forcing coaches to wear military looking sweatshirts. Super cool right?!? And we will also make sure that 2% of all sales goes to Wounded Warriors if purchased from NFL.com. Gotta check that box. Maybe it’s our President flying in and out of IRAQ for 28 minutes. I’ve spent more time agonizing over the Whole Foods hot bar than Trump spent with the troops. Check the box my friend, and make sure you take credit, too. Maybe it’s all of our elected representatives deciding that our coast guard can go unpaid while they fight over their preferred type of border security. It’s a wall, no, it’s a barrier, no what we really need are some illegal immigrant drones. No sir, we need to get paid.

Then there are actual bad ass groups that rip that veil off the faceless soldier and ask our vets “what do you need?” The Pat Tillman Foundation is one of those organizations. Pat was one of those “give us your best” type of soldiers that was heavily celebrated by all. He actually checked that box. Patriot, check. And hundreds of thousands of men and women do that every day. Those are the people that the Pat Tillman Foundation continues to support through Pat’s legacy.

I’ve been thinking a ton about veterans this week. First, our San Jose 408k “Race to the Row” is coming up this Sunday. It benefits the aforementioned Tillman Foundation and specifically their military scholar’s program. It is our 8th Annual event this year and we’re closing in on $100,000 donated to the organization. Straight up, we’re proud of that. Pat was from San Jose and in his honor, we’ll have a Memorial Mile on the course. We invite local veterans to line the street and exchange enthusiasm with the runners and walkers.  For us it’s about showing the veterans our true appreciation. No more just checking the box.  

I’d also like to recognize my family members that have served. First off, my grandpa Pete Armstrong served in the Pacific Theater on an aircraft carrier. He was an airplane mechanic. He could fix anything. I still want to be like him.  My other grandfather, Bruce Service earned a Bronze Star in Europe in the Army infantry. This California kid gets himself into the Battle of the Bulge, then kills and captures a bunch of Nazis. I’m pretty sure the whole experience changed him forever. How could it not? His war never ended. Then there is my cousin Stephan Fernandez. We are separated by just a few months in age and grew up in lock step. After high school Steph followed in our grandfather’s footsteps and enlisted in the Army. He rose to Staff Sergeant, a proven leader, serving one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. Last week I visited him in Columbus, GA and he was gracious to share real war stories. He definitely saw some shit, earned his Purple Heart, never wanted to leave his crew and recently honorably rejoined civilian life. Total dedication to his country and his crew, checked that box.

So yes, our vets are an easy target. They’re an easy target because they put themselves in harms way. We too often check the box and thank them in political notations. I’m guilty of this and for years took this service as something that was for others to worry about. Yah, yah, but they get paid, Yah, they signed up for it. World War II was different. Thats why I don’t have to enlist. Was it though? True evil is still around us. As I get older I can see the field a bit clearer. I want to make every thank you count. Make it really mean something. This Sunday we’re just running an 8k for San Jose. Part of that day is about memorializing and raising money to support veterans. Big check, big check mark, look them in the eye, listen, smile, thank them, and mean it. They did.

To learn more and participate in the Memorial Mile please visit: www.run408k.com/memorial-mile

To run or walk in the 8th Annual San Jose 408k Brought to you by Amazon please register at www.run408k.com

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RUN LOCAL - Yes, we have an apparel brand.

We trademarked Run Local a few years ago and now we produce hoodies, shirties, tankies, and totes'ies under that brand. It's fun. Visit www.runlocalshop.com to get yours. 

Beauty and Tradition in San Francisco

Beauty and tradition still exist in San Francisco. Of course they do. They always will. Yes, it will change and people will complain and people will come and people will go. But beauty and tradition will always exist in San Francisco. Whether it’s a heated race between a half dozen mayoral candidates or a costumed frenzied trot amongst 40,000 at the Bay to Breakers; beauty and tradition are San Francisco. Beauty and freaking tradition ya’ll.

 

And come on, this has been going on around here for centuries. You have to believe that in the 1850’s just after those Wild Bill 49ers started to rough up San Francisco, there was a group of locals just like you complaining about all the hullaballoo going around town.  In their mind, San Francisco had changed for the worse and it would never be the same. Levi Strauss was hawking denim and the railroaders couldn’t spend it fast enough. Or maybe it was 1967 and new locals were hippi-shaming the flower children and their irresponsible everything’s. Stupid hippies, right? I mean am I right?  Who’s next?  I’ve only been around San Francisco since 2006 and half the time I hide in Santa Cruz. During that time, I’ve denounced just about every change that San Francisco has to offer. From the tech nerds to the rental market and now the motorized-everything’s. One-wheels, boosted skate nerds, and scooter bumpkins that just came off a boat from Chicago. Every generation fights the change. BUT…even the crustiest dongle from the Avenues knows that there is something sweet about the tradition of change in San Francisco.

Beauty and tradition. Three years ago my band of Bay Area misfits acquired the opportunity to produce the Across the Bay 12k (formerly Houlihans to Houlihans formerly Emerald Nuts 12k and now technically we call it the Across the Bay 12k & 415k. Technically.). We got this gem of a running race from one of the original local race directors- a legend named Mr. Dave Rhody.  I think Dave and his band of Bay Area misfits had been producing the event for 31 years at the time and decided they would prefer to see another crew suffer through the next 31.  I reckon that’s about where we came in.

It’s just a simple 12k from Sausalito across the old Golden Gater out to Hopper’s Hands and over to Aquatic Park.  

Point A: That is a freaking gorgeous route. I own the event and there is nowhere else I’d rather run.

Point B: There is the tradition of an eclectic after-party.  Few may know that Mr. Joe Montana made an appearance at the first after party in 1983.  He had a few beers and handed out the awards. Impressive? Yes. And while Cool Joe won’t be joining us next week, maybe we’ll invite Jimmy G.  One thing we have confirmed is a partnership with the new Ghirardelli Square Festival for a guaranteed, good ol’ time. I’m talkin’ music, beer gardens and craft coffee kinda good ol’ time.

 

One of San Francisco’s most storied traditions is innovation. From the Castro to SoMa. From the gold rush to the crypto.  From Rhody Co. to Represent Running.  Yes, we’ve added new elements to the Across the Bay 12k. Yes, you can now run just a 5k or even participate virtually. But at the heart of the event we’ve kept the beauty…just like San Francisco. Just like those dirty hippies in 60’s and that nerd falling on his electric skateboard in the middle of Market St. In SF, some things don’t change. 

Postal Nationals | HOKA ONE ONE

August 2014 - Present

In conjunction with HOKA ONE ONE we brought back the concept of the Postal Nationals. The intention of the project was to expose the high school aged runners to an up and coming shoe brand. We took an old school concept and added new school digital elements, social media, video, and virtual results to create the largest high school aged championship across any sport. HOKA ONE ONE Postal Nationals consists of five live events, 60 local events, 100+ team time trials, and over 500 participating teams annually. In its 5th year the program will have directly reached a total of 15,000 athletes.

From the Founder:

The challenge was to take an unconventional shoe brand and gain authenticity amongst high school runners and their coaches. We developed a program that brings a democracy to the national championship and thus attracts teams from all 50 states. Further, the incentive to post results also creates a shoe seeding program for local high school coaches. Getting HOKAs on the shoes of local high school coaches is the perfect way to impact awareness at the grassroots level.

Global Genes

January 2017 - Present

Adding Global Genes as a client is one of the most exciting new projects at Soul Focus. First, the upcoming "Rare in the Square" activation presents us with a new a challenge to create a meaningful experiential moment outside of endurance sports. While Soul Focus spearheaded numerous initiatives at the 2018 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, next year it will be leading the Global Genes education, marketing and celebration activations in association with one of the most important healthcare conferences in the world. This important pivot confirms Soul Focus is ready for any direction in the future.

From the Founder
The challenge consisted of working in a new perceived environment and industry. However, the same rules of creativity, planning and execution still reign in all event planning. Not only have we done extensive research on similar past activations, but we also brought a new "uber local" perspective to the client. This gives the industry a new look and a solid crew.

JT Service to Be Keynote at AC Road Summit

JT Service to Be Keynote at AC Road Summit

J.T. Service founded Soul Focus Sports in 2011. Prior to that Service was a 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier, is still a member of the California Bar, a USATF Authorized athlete’s agent, and the creator of the SF Bay Area based Represent Running Series featuring 15,000+ athletes annually.

The 2017 edition of the Athletics Canada Race Director’s Summit will be held in Ottawa as part of Race Weekend and Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations!

Give Love, Get Love

Give Love, Get Love

Define Love. If we are to give it, first we must define it. It’s everything. It’s yes and it’s also no. It is affection and it is resistance. It is god for some and simply faith in the good of humanity for others. For me, work on this subject began after the results of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Most attention was focused on the incredible divide between so many people across America. This division felt greatly out of our control, on both sides. My focus returned to the question, “What can I do?” My answer was that I can control how I treat others.

Cut the Cord(s)

On New Year’s Eve I came home to a disturbance. Apparently the dogs had lost their minds while I was away. The main culprit was my dog Roscoe aka the singing dog aka @roscoe_champion aka my squish and finally aka my boo. Roscoe has developed a healthy fear of fireworks. I am aware of this fear and thus I locked the dogs in the house upon my departure.

Run for the Oceans | Adidas/Match MG

June 2017

In conjunction with Match MG and our partners at Silverback Pacific we created a unique running activation in New York City for Adidas/Parley. The purpose was to highlight the new Adidas products utilizing recycled ocean plastics that were being turned into shoes and apparel. The event would include a completely sustainable 5k run for Adidas Global athletes, influencers, ambassadors, media and a limited consumer experience. The event was highlighted by a night run, synced light bands, sailing themed start/finish, massive hand painted murals, and a surprise performance by Hip Hop performing artist Pusha T.

From the Founder
The challenge for Match MG was to create a fully sustainable, high profile and premium event for one the hottest footwear brand sport. Silverback Pacific and Soul Focus were there to create the running experience, support the fabrications and the art installations. We met this challenge by turning the middle of NYC into a blue themed running wonderland.

 

Stanford Summer Scamper | Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health

June 2011 - Present

As one of our first clients we are incredibly proud of the legacy created by the Summer Scamper. The event celebrates the patients at Stanford Children's Hospital and raises over $500,000 annually around a 5k, 10k, and Kids' Run on the Stanford Campus. Our job was to create a solid platform for the event through detailed planning and operational execution. Beyond the race basics it has been a true team effort between the client and our team to grow the event both in terms of fundraising and participation.

From the Founder

The challenge for Summer Scamper was cutting through the saturation of charity endurance events and establishing success. The Summer Scamper has done an excellent job of concentrating on the local peninsula community, keeping a laser focus on corporate partnership and inspiring sincere peer-to-peer fundraising. The playbook is not unique, but the execution is dialed. You don't always have to re-write the plan, but instead a well worked plan can move mountains. 

San Francisco Giants Race Series | Giants Enterprises

June 2010 - Present

The San Francisco Giant Race Series has expanded from the original San Francisco Giant Race to currently include the San Jose Giant Race, the Sacramento Giant Race and the Scottsdale Giant Race. Soul Focus co-founded the series with Giants Enterprises, consults on each event and fully produces both the San Jose & Sacramento locations. In total the Giant Race attracts over 22,000 runners annually, raises over $500,000 for its charity partners and expertly extends the Giants brand outside of AT&T Park.

From the Founder:

The challenge with the Giant Race was taking the idea of an existing modest 5k and expanding it to rival major running events across the nation. By starting solely with the love for a major league franchise we were able to ignite that passion; first into a weekend of activities and now into a year long journey from Spring Training to the Big Leagues. All of our events finish on the field of the local host team and now the fan has become star every time they cross that finish line. These mixed feelings of team spirit, individual achievement and pure fun have created the most successful professional sports franchise endurance event series.

 

JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge - San Francisco

The JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge is the gold standard for company running competitions. Under the agency leadership of On Board Experiential this event provides a fantastic experience for the elite and the "once a year warrior" alike.  This run attracts over 10,000 runners in the Bay Area and our job is to make sure the event works. 

Our job at Soul Focus is to serve as the technical directors. From the start to the course to the finish we uphold the high standards set by JP Morgan at all of their international events. We crushed it. 

On the downside, during last year's event J.T. Service, our CEO & Founder, cut his finger to the bone with a sharp knife and now he's not allowed to use sharp objects without adult supervision.  Fortunately everyone else, including the runners, finished without injury. 

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