WHAT YOU DO: Think executive with pom-poms and a dustpan. Joel Heath, president of Untraditional Marketing and producer of the Teva Mountain Games, says he's everything from CEO to janitor. Boston Athletic Association's executive director, Guy Morse, splits his time between rallying staff and sweet-talking sponsors. "We're asking 7,000 people to volunteer, and you have to keep them coming back." Why is that awesome? The thrill of being completely in charge on race day. Jim Birrell, whose Medalist Sports runs the Tour de Georgia and the Tour of California, says, "It's an unbelievable rush when you see it all come to fruition."
WHY NOW: More and more communities are trying to cash in on the racing craze. Running USA says finishers in U.S. road races have more than doubled in two decades, up to 8.5 million, and USA Cycling reported a 45 percent membership increase in the past five years.
THE NUMBERS: A third of organizers work for free, but at least a quarter earn more than $50,000. Birrell, who begins his day at 4 a.m. so he can be home in time for dinner, says you can make as much as $150,000 directing major events.
BREAKING IN: Race directors come from all over, but they share a passion for their sport and a no-job-is-too-small attitude. Keep yourself educated on your sport of choice, start volunteering now, and check trade-group sites like Road Race Management (rrm.com) and Running USA (runningusa.org).