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The voice behind the microphone: What it’s like to host a race

This week, our blogger Noel Paine is telling the story of a runner from the east coast of Canada who he’s had the privilege of knowing for many years. 

Mark "Running MC" Stein in action.
Mark “Running MC” Stein in action.

Mark Stein

Mark Stein, with a voice familiar to many, always seems to have been at Nova Scotia running events. He’s a single dad, a real estate broker and well known as a runner with the microphone. He lists his passions as running, cycling, kayaking and backpacking but another should be public speaking – he does that well.

The running MC started running back in 1985. He ran his first marathon in New York in 1994 and ran Boston in 2007. After many years of hitting the roads and crossing finish lines he has amassed a respectable list of personal bests: 19:21 in the 5K, 42:10 in the 10K, a 1:30 half-marathon and a 3:35 marathon.

Always actively involved in the running community, Mark made his talent for public speaking more than just a side thing. In 2011, he started a side business. He named his enterprise, “Running MC.”

“Being a runner myself, I know how hard we all work while racing,” he says. “I have been told that when I start my music and start talking, I turn a race into an event.”

Mark continues to run and emcee and has expanded his race talk to New Brunswick and even to multi sport events. I asked Mark a few questions about his work.

NP: What does a good voice bring to race in your opinion?

MS: It’s important to give the lead runners all their due at a race for their powerful talent and accomplishments, but there is nothing better at an event than to feel the spirits lifted of the bottom half of the race and especially of those participants who are new to the sport and struggling just to finish.  I’ve been told that my encouragement to those people are what motivates them to come back.

NP: What does it take to be a good at it? 

MS: Being spontaneous with comments, not yelling into a microphone and keeping the participants engaged for sometimes six to eight hours takes a tremendous amount of energy.  The night after an event, I’m exhausted but feel satisfied that I actually might have made a positive difference in someone’s life. I truly love doing what I do.

NP: What is one of your best memories from a race?

MS: The best memories are seeing the faces of the back-of-the-pack runners who physically and emotionally struggle to complete their event. The difference it is to them to finish, regardless of their time and to hear the MC call their name is awesome. I’ve had numerous people finish their race, barely able to stand and make a point to come over and give me a sweaty hug and say “thank you” to me.

You can also catch me at runningwriter@hotmail.com, on Twitter @NoelPaine or on my personal blog ‘No Paine, No Gain.