Each month we're featuring an interview with a local retailer or organization. Next up: Always Aim High Events.
Always Aim High Events was founded in 2010 by Tim Lloyd and Nigel 'Kenny' Kendrick.
Their first event was the now iconic Slateman Triathlon 2011, attracting just over 400 competitors (it now regularly exceeds 1,000), with a vision that included the Snowman and Sandman - the three events which now make up the Adventure Triathlon Series.
From that one event, Always Aim High Events now hosts 34 all-inclusive events over 9 weekends, with many more planned.
Social media handles:
Facebook: @alwaysaimhigh | Instagram: @aahevents | Twitter: @aahevents
How have you adapted your events to the current situation?
The Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has been without doubt, Always Aim High Events' biggest challenge to date.
With the restrictions placed on the events industry due to lockdown and social distancing measures, the majority of our events have been postponed until later in 2020 or 2021. We have had to rethink our strategies quickly and work hard to stay connected with our participants, fans, and the wider market.
We introduced multiple virtual events during the pandemic challenging participants to run, bike, walk, crawl, or climb their way to their goals. Each achievement was rewarded with a bespoke North Wales slate coaster, Superfeet AAHE socks, buffs, and other goodies. This helped our audience to keep active, maintaining their physical and mental health and well-being during the toughest months of the lockdown in the UK and beyond. Not only that, with 20% of all entry fees going to amazing causes we have raised thousands of pounds for charity just when they need it most. We are proud of the platform that our events give to raise money and fund the incredible work that the charities do.
What has the response been from athletes?
The response from our athletes has been one of disappointment but understanding in these trying times. The postponements of our 2020 events have disrupted the plans of thousands of our participants. We have engaged with our athletes, even adjusting our standard Terms & Conditions to introduce more options around entry transfers and deferrals so we can be as flexible as possible. We have worked hard to stay in constant dialogue with our audience, answering questions to ensure that they have as much peace of mind as possible. We have run outreach campaigns, offering added value and engaging content across all of our channels helping us to stay relevant with our audience and giving them something to help them through and see a light at the end of the tunnel.
As a result, from more than 8,000 customers affected by event postponements we have had refund requests from less than 1% and our early 2021 event entries are up more than 60% year on year. We are over the moon and humbled by the faith that our audience has placed in Always Aim High Events to navigate a way through this crisis.
What is your favourite race in the calendar?
Now that’s like asking which child is your favourite! We are incredibly proud of all of our events but there will be a special place in our hearts for the Superfeet Sandman & Slateman Triathlons as they were our first ever events. Both of these iconic weekends in the UK Triathlon should have turned 10 yrs old in 2020 so we’ve had to put the plans to mark the occasion on hold until next year - but rest assured, it’s going to be a big celebration!
What does 2021 look like for you?
2021 is looking very strong for Always Aim High Events. We’ve got extensive plans in place for how we are going to ensure that our events are as COVID-Safe as possible whilst not completely changing the event atmosphere. Entries are looking strong too with a lot of the UK endurance sport market showing a real desire to get back out into events as soon as it is safe to do so.
What is the best thing about running the variety events you have in the race calendar?
The variety is the best thing; no two event weekends are the same. A lot of the challenges that we need to overcome to stage an amazing event are the same whether it’s a running event or a triathlon but they’ve both got their own unique considerations. We love throwing ourselves at a problem and coming up with solutions that will bring real enjoyment and the chance for achievement to our athletes.
What tips would you give someone looking to do their first race?
Give yourself an achievable goal that can be extended. There’s no point gunning for a Middle Distance Triathlon if you’ve never completed a 10k or Half Marathon. There will be plenty of time for the longer distances later, set your sights on something you know you can do and then move your goal further on each time. Before you know it you be on the start line ready to smash an event you could only have dreamed a matter of months earlier.
But the biggest bit of advice is get in the pool or on your bike or get your trainers on, and JUST GET OUT THERE & HAVE FUN!