Briston Rains Reflects On A Successful First Year Of Race Directing

At just 19 years old, Texas-based race director Briston Rains has successfully completed his first full year of race directing. In 2021, Rains founded his own race directing company, Texas Outlaw Running Company, which included six races across Texas. Rain’s race series included a variety of distances and race styles including a half marathon, marathon, 5-kilometer, 50-kilometer and Last Person Standing competition. In addition to his races, Texas Outlaw Running Company produces apparel, a podcast and provides personalized coaching.

In the following article, I speak with Rains who reflects on his first year of race directing and plans for building a stronger Texas trail running community.

Asher Hamlin and race director Briston Rains (right).

[TAYTE] When putting on your first race, what was one thing harder and one thing easier than you expected?
[BRISTON] The hardest thing is the amount of physical labor that goes into putting on an event. Course marking, setting up aid stations, carrying equipment to and from checkpoints is all very demanding. For one race this season, I had to carry a table almost a mile up a cliff!

Once all the pre race preparations have been made, the easiest part is simply starting the race. From that point on, I hold my breath, hope runners go the right way and envision everything going smoothly for the rest of the day.

[TAYTE] What are some obstacles that stop younger people from pursuing a career in race directing?
[BRISTON] When I was 15, I wanted to put on a race. One thing that held me back was the idea that there was so much upfront work and things I didn’t know in order to start. It seemed overwhelming. There is so much work at the beginning of putting on an event: getting permits, finding a venue, producing bibs and swag, etc. I learned that you just have to press on and do the work, even when you don’t know everything. You don’t need a college degree or special education to put on a race. I found everything I needed to know to get started on the internet.

Start of a Texas Outlaw Running Company event.

[TAYTE] “If you want to learn to swim, jump into the water. On dry land no frame of mind is ever going to help you.” ― Bruce Lee. This strikes me as an attitude that may resonate with you. Did you have any prior experience as a race director or volunteer before starting your own company?
[BRISTON] Transitioning from high school to college, I didn’t have much time to volunteer at races or spend time around race directors. I jumped headfirst into my career in race directing. I had zero experience and many crazy ideas for races that never came to be, yet in the end I made it work.

[TAYTE] As you continue to direct more and more races, what gets easier?
[BRISTON] The more I direct races, the calmer and more confident I feel. The race day nerves get easier to deal with. I still get butterflies before putting on a race but now much less.

[TAYTE] Is it important to you to work with or find inspiration from other race directors?
[BRISTON] Race directing is a creative pursuit and I like to compare it to painting. Painters copy other painters and develop their own style through a combination of these other artists’ styles. In the same way, as a new race director, I looked at large race directing companies (Aravaipa, Spartan Trail, etc.), and took things from their style that I liked and added my own personality to it. Now, I have my own style.

The Backland, a Last Person Standing event.

[TAYTE] Do you have a favorite type of race to direct?
[BRISTON] My favorite distance to direct is the Last Person Standing. The atmosphere was unlike any other race. We had a great community of volunteers, fans, and runner’s crews who gathered around a campfire late into the night cheering on runners pushing themselves to their limits. It felt like a camping, running party! It was also interesting from a race director point-of-view as I had no idea how long I was going to be out on course directing the event.

[TAYTE] Looking back after a year of race directing, what do you think is something you learned that you’ll take with you into your next year of race directing?
[BRISTON] The first year putting on an event, not everything will be figured out. There will be grey areas in pre race planning. In the second year of an event, many of those gray areas become uncovered. Events can become more professional each year. Everything that you miss as a race director the first year, you have the opportunity to fix and make the event that much better. You learn from last year’s mistakes and fine tune your event every year.

Texas Outlaw Running Company awards.

[TAYTE] What are your goals for the future of the Texas Outlaw Running Company?
[BRISTON] The future is so exciting (and the past is awesome to look back upon!). Firstly, I am expanding to more locations. We’re having our first race outside of Texas, held in Arkansas, as well as expanding into Southern Texas. We’ll be adding more races and adding more distances to existing races. I am currently still in college, so I’m only able to put on events between semesters. As soon as I graduate, I’m going to double the amount of races I put on. In 2022, I’ll be putting on nine events and I hope to bring that to eighteen events in 2023.

I also have the goal to put on an iconic “Texas” 100-mile race. I want it to capture what Texas is all about and create a 100-mile race that will stand out amongst the other Texas 100-milers. Another idea: I currently have the East Texas Ultra, but I would love to someday create West, North and South Texas Ultras. I would put them all together to have a Texas Ultra Championship with top finishers from each of the four regions. These are my big, grand ideas and we’ll see where they go!


Briston greeting a finisher of the Texas Diablo Marathon.

Want to learn more about how Rains founded the Texas Outlaw Running Company as a teenager? Read Tayte’s story about Briston on our website. See all of Briston’s races on our event calendar.

You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you liked this article, read even more of Tayte’s articles on our website.

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