Adam Zocks: Master Obstacle Clearer

Zocks (pictured here with his wife Jeanine) will oversee his 14th consecutive St. Jude Country Music Marathon in Nashville on Saturday.

Meet one of the Competitor Group’s operations gurus. 

When he was a high school runner, Competitor Group Vice President and General Manager Adam Zocks was jumping over hurdles.

Not much has changed since then.

Zocks, who is responsible for the operations and staging of the nine Rock ‘n’ Roll Series races that comprise his “Team East,” spends much of his day solving complex problems and trying to orchestrate chaos. He’s got an enormous task that requires perseverance and a boatload of patience.

“This job is all about providing the proper guidance,” he says. “It’s also about forming important partnerships and creating trusting relationships with every possible city agency that is involved in our races—from police, to fire, to even the big casino hotels on the Strip for our Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas race.”

The 43-year-old Zocks has eight direct reports and the added challenge is managing them while living on the opposite coast. “They’re in San Diego,” he says, “and when I’m not with them at the events, I’m at my home office in Livingston [New Jersey].”

He pauses.

“Suffice it to say, I’m on the phone a lot.”

In fact, Zocks is a born-and-bred New Jersey man. And he chuckles when he admits that his wife of 15 years, Jeanine, is from Queens originally. “After living in Queens with her for seven years, I somehow convinced her to move to here. Most people from Queens don’t do that.”

Zocks is a family man with two children, a five-year-old boy Matthew, and a three-year-old girl, Hannah. He met Jeannie, who is currently a VP with Foot Locker, after he graduated from William & Mary and was working in marketing. It was in that job that Zocks began to take an interest in managing running events. He eventually ended up with Elite Racing.

Sports run deep in Zocks’ veins. He says he enjoys a good game of basketball and swinging either a softball bat or a golf club. And fitting with the Rock ‘n’ Roll-themed races he spearheads, Zocks admits that he loves music. “I fiddle around with a guitar when I can” he says with a grin.

Also true to his job, Zocks is a runner. In high school, he competed in the 400m hurdles. As a college freshman, he walked on to the highly competitive track team at Division 1 William and Mary, and though he didn’t keep at it, he continues to run when he has the chance. For example, at the 2006 edition of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon, Zocks, who was working at the start line that day, decided on whim, to jump into the last corral and take on the 13.1-mile distance with those in the back of the pack. It was a win-win for him, because the race served as a long training run for the New York City Marathon he was training for at the time; it also allowed him to see what it was like to run a race that he had helped organize. “That was a great experience,” he recalls. “I got a perspective that I never had before. It helped me understand what our runners go through.”

Zocks admits that though he puts in incredibly long hours and spends much of his week traveling, he enjoys what he does. “Success to me is about building a strong staff,” he says. “Without them, you cannot execute great events.”

But in the end, Zocks says that it’s all about giving the runners what they deserve: a well-orchestrated, fun experience.

“We are always doing what we can to keep them trusting in us,” he says of the hundreds of thousands of Rock ‘n’ Roll participants each year. “That’s always our top priority.”

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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 2012.

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