RaceCenter NW Magazine has had you covered for accurate and insightful runners news in Central Oregon and the entire Northwest for the last two decades. Keeping a go-to sports periodical magazine strong and topical in the digital age is a challenge editor Brook Gardner understands all too well.
Gardner, the Bend-based editor and advertising director, publishes the in-print magazine and online news site. It’s owned by AA Sports Limited, based in Beaverton, who actually produces the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival held the last weekend in June. RaceCenter NW is a treasure chest of training and diet tips, detailed event schedules, accurate results and informative editorials around the runner’s sporting realm.
“The magazine began back in late 1992 as a newsprint publication distributed at running shoe stores, GI Joes and other sporting outlets in the Portland region,” said Gardner. “It consisted of an event calendar and a way to get the word out for AA Sports-owned races they were producing for the Portland market.”
In that five-year span before Gardner came on board, they expanded to include the Washington, Idaho and basically the entire Northwest region with regular columns and user-generated articles.
“It began to evolve into more of a legit magazine than simply a region-specific event newsletter. In 1998 they upgraded the cover stock to a glossy paper on the outside and newsprint inside.”
RaceCenter NW now covers running and triathlons in the Pacific Northwest, providing a comprehensive event calendar and region-specific content geared towards both novice and veteran athletes. They’re the official publication of USATF-Oregon Long Distance Running and the magazine of choice for endurance sports athletes for the entire Northwest.
Gardner took over production of the magazine in 1999 and it’s now run as a separate business.
“I had just graduated from Oregon State with a degree in marketing and exercise science. I lived in Portland at the time and was a triathlete and dropped off my resume at AA Sports and there was an opening for an advertising rep for RaceCenter and the owner hired me on the spot. Five months later the current editor left and the magazine, lock, stock and barrel, landed in my lap.”
When Gardner took the reins, circulation of the magazine was close to 10,000 copies, six times a year.
“In 2001 we revamped the distribution model and continued to offer paid subscriptions but became more aggressive with events distribution and discontinued in–store sales and allowed our carriers to offer it to their patrons at no cost.”
RaceCenter NW officially launched a digital edition in 2011, providing complimentary online access.
“I originally had a webmaster in 2000 but took it over and started curating the site myself, posting articles and keeping up the online calendar,” he said. “I went to school in an era where web publishing was part of the curriculum due to Hewlett-Packard providing equipment to the OSU business school so luckily we had access to several computer labs.”
Being able to post web content in a timely manner was vital to stay fresh and up-to-date and those demands continue to multiply.
“We became a hub and vital portal for all event info and the definitive resource in the region for pre-race and post-race information. Today, it’s a prime tool for endurance sports and runners throughout the region. In the grand scheme of things, we cover four states and I think we’ve done a very good job to proactively reach out to all those event promoters and race directors to encourage them to list their events on our online calendar.”
Staying relevant in the ever-changing world of sports is sometimes difficult.
“It’s just me, I’m a one-man army but we’ve got twenty years of history behind us and we didn’t get here in a day. It became very evident to me from day one that establishing a robust digital presence was important. The print publication is now up to 22,000 copies four times a year, plus a 55,000-issue annual edition, so those are impressive numbers.”
In the coming years, Gardner wishes to expand his online territory in the Northwest and getting more users to flock to the site.
“We have an email data base of over 30,000 e-newsletter subscribers and a growing social media presence. We used to be a two-legged stool and with social media opportunities we now have more avenues to expose our advertisers and increase the number of vehicles to reach our audience.”
For Gardner, commanding the helm of a major sports periodical is a daily labor of love.
“I made my hobby my career in a few words,” he said. “I was an athlete with a passion for endurance sports and it gave me the chance to move to Bend and start a family in 2002. Who wouldn’t love to do that?”
RaceCenter NW Magazine publishes five issues per year including an annual Event Guide. Print subscriptions are available online for $18 for two years or $12 for one year.