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Heather Dolan: Making Magic Behind The Scenes

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Jan. 1, 2013
  • Updated May. 30, 2013 at 12:04 PM UTC
Dolan, right, hangs with World Cup Soccer Star Brandi Chastain and colleague Cassidy Runyan at a recent Rock 'n' Roll event.

Meet the Competitor Group’s registration manager!

Customer service can be a tough job. It typically involves skillfully dealing with upset people on the other end of the phone and responding to numerous email and customer complaints.

It’s oftentimes a stressful, thankless job that can wear you down, regardless of your line of work.

But speaking to Competitor Group Registration Manager, Heather Dolan, one would never get that impression. The 29-year-old maintains a continuous smile on her face and a chuckle in her voice. Her job entails managing six support specialists that assist the 500,000 runners who take part in the now worldwide Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. And when she’s not doing that, Heather is helping out herself, often setting up registration at the various race expos or coordinating logistics on race day.

“We work really hard at this,” she admits. “We sometimes work 14 hours a day for six days a week with real deadlines when we are on the road. Many runners don’t realize what it takes to put on a Rock ‘n’ Roll event. And when they find out that we are the same group of people from California that travels all over with pretty much the same gear that we have to set up and break down, they are amazed.”

Heather says she loves her job and that because of it she’s getting to visit parts of the country (and world) that she never thought she’d see. Of all the cities she’s been to, she admits that Nashville is her favorite. “It’s funny, because I’m not a country music fan,” she says with a laugh. “But Nashville has this energy. There’s live music playing everywhere and everyone seems so talented.”

When she has free time, Heather likes to play on Competitor Group’s co-ed indoor soccer team at a local YMCA. They’re good, and recently won the league championship. Heather also runs, and growing up in Newbury Park, Calif., she says that her mom signed her up for track when she was just six years old. In high school, she did everything on the track from the 4 x 100m relay to the 400m. She’s completed six half marathons and admits a lot of her training comes from just being on her feet all day.

Perhaps her most rewarding physical experience, however, took place last November when she joined her mother, aunt, and cousin in the Komen 3-Day Walk to fight breast cancer. The event, which entailed walking 20 miles three days in a row, was especially poignant as her mother is a breast cancer survivor and has been in remission for 20 years.

“My feet are pretty tough from standing up most of the day on the job, so they held up,” Heather says. “Surprisingly, I didn’t get any blisters. Completing it was one of the happiest things I’ve ever done. It was so incredible to do it with my family. We all motivated each other.”

Stress and deadlines aside, there are some light-hearted moments that occur during Heather’s work day. Not all of the emails and phone calls she receives are from angry customers. In fact, she recently received an email from a man who asked if he could wear a giant panda suit on race day.

“He even sent us a picture of it,” Heather says with a chuckle. “I thought it was cute, because he was going to wear it to impress his girlfriend who was a panda lover. That one was easy to respond to.”

Along with the travel, Heather contends that the biggest appeal to the customer service job is the bond that she has with her fellow co-workers. “We’re all like touring roadies for a band,” she says. “We work hard together, but we also get to hang out and have fun together.

Heather doesn’t just consider her co-workers colleagues — to her, they’re friends. “This job can be really stressful and there’s not doubt that I work here because of the amazing people on this team.”

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About The Author:

Duncan Larkin is a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released in July.

FILED UNDER: Features / Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series TAGS: /

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