Kiertzner has been the race director since 2005. Her last day on the job will be next Tuesday.
“I’m stepping down to kind of take a break,” Kiertzner said. “We’ve grown the race and taken on other races. It’s a physical job. I had an opportunity to step back and just take a break for a while. Also, Mike Hall, the assistant race director, is retiring. It was a good time for both of us to step back.”
When Kiertzner directed her first Crim in 2005, there were 11,640 entrants in all races and 6,309 in the 10-mile race. The event grew to a record total of 16,226 entrants for all events in 2010 and 10,371 in the 10-mile race this year.
“She did a great job,” said Mark Yonan, chairman of the Crim’s board of directors. “She came to the position without any experience in racing; she had not been involved in putting on a race before. She was a quick study and did a fantastic job.”
During Kiertzner’s tenure, the Crim was also contracted to direct the popular Brooksie Way Half Marathon in Rochester Hills and The Qualifier, a marathon and half marathon that will debut next May in Midland. The Crim’s involvement with the Brooksie Way ended after this year’s race, as Oakland County officials will direct the event in the future.
“The best thing about my job is what I can do for the city of Flint,” she said. “I’m a Flint girl. I love how the community pulls together for the Crim. I love race morning. I love working with sponsors and volunteers. My heart is definitely here. That’s been the best part of my job. I also enjoy the opportunity of helping grow the Crim brand.”
Kiertzner was the fifth race director, all women, and stayed on the job longer than her three predecessors. Lois Craig was the director from 1977-91. Laurie McCann became the first paid full-time director in 1992 and stayed until 1996. Anne Gault was director from 1996-99 and Sherlynn Everly was director from 1999-2004.
“Anne Gault joked that there’s certainly a shelf life to race directors,” Kiertzner said. “The burnout factor comes in. You become weary. As you become older, you find you have less energy to devote and put into it.”
Kiertzner said that directing the Crim is a year-round job, with much of the groundwork for the 2012 race taking place within the next month.
“People say, ‘Oh, race week must be an intense week,’ but it truly is 12 months,” she said. “This is when the planning process begins to design the logo, start calling sponsors, developing online registration. Leading up to race weekend, it’s nuts. We’ve got so many events. You’re juggling 1,000 balls. I can’t stress enough that Mike Hall, (race support manager) Janell High and (race operations manager) Don Gerow, they’re the ones who pick up everything. It truly becomes a team effort.
“Of course, for the month of August, I don’t even see my family. It’s pretty intensive. One of the things I look forward to is the opportunity for a summer vacation.”
Kiertzner had a background in broadcasting before joining the Crim. She said she doesn’t have another job lined up.
“A female broadcaster, there’s another job with a shelf life,” Kiertzner said. “You reach a certain age and along come the 20-somethings. I wouldn’t rule anything out.”
Yonan said the Crim Fitness Foundation has formed a committee to interview candidates and hopes to fill the position in the next month.
The Crim has posted an opening for a vice president whose responsibilities will include “overall strategic and operational responsibility for all program areas, as well as immediate direct oversight of race management and operations.”
“There was some thought as to whether that position should encompass the race completely or be supervisory,” Yonan said. “We’re still working through that. I think it’s been resolved to have a race director who is exclusive, as far as that position is concerned.”