experiential marketing and events

155: Michelle Duffy, Life Time

“And what, what felt so off or or wrong for us for me was emotionally, yes, these are running races or cycling events, but we’re creating life-changing experiences.”

– Michelle Duffy


Michelle Duffy, Director of Off-Road Events and Marketing for Life Time leads a small and mighty team with huge hearts and a huge commitment to their event athletes. If you are a long-time listener of the podcast, you have likely heard me talk about my love for Leadville and other events that the team at Life Time puts on annually. If you haven’t heard me talk about it, episode 100 recaps the significance of the 2019 race for me personally and introduces Kimo Seymour, SVP of Operations at Life Time. Understanding my own personal love for the events they host, it was obviously unfortunate that almost every single event was cancelled due to the pandemic this year. 

What I am most proud of though in working with Michelle directly and Life Time as a client of Verde Brand Communications throughout the year, is that their team did not shy away from the public, they didn’t climb into the figurative holes each of us likely considered, even if just for a second. No – Life Time’s team immediately found ways to stay connected to their target consumers. They offered challenges to all groups of people to participate in, they rebranded in the midst of a pandemic, they raised unbelievable amounts of money for foundations and organizations within their racing communities and pivoted in so many more ways than you’d believe.

I cannot wait to see what the Life Time team does in 2021!


Michelle Duffy

Michelle Duffy is the Director of Off-Road Events and Marketing for Life Time.


2020 Event Pivots, Event Management in a Pandemic, Virtual Racing Events, Cycling, Life Time Events, Dirty Kanza Rebranding, Unbound 2021, Emporia, Kansas, Bentonville, Arkansas, Leadville 100,000 Challenge, Leadville Racing


And what, what felt so off or or wrong for us for me was emotionally, yes, these are running races or cycling events, but we’re creating life-changing experiences.”

“…And always like, whatever we’re doing is contributing positively. Whether that person holds on to the event experience, it’s just another like notch in the belt for them, or it’s something that changes their life for the entirety of their life. We’re always providing something euphoric joy, a point on the calendar that you, your family, your loved ones, your coworkers know you’re trending towards. And to then cancel, that was, it’s not just like you’re closing a store down for a short time and you’re not able to go get your groceries at the store. You’re used to going to go get your drink at the bar. You’re going to, this is like we’re dream makers. And we became dream breakers. And that was really hard for us because it’s so foreign to crush people. Usually our courses are what’s crushing people, but not the, the ability to have the event. So that was emotional, I think, for the whole team and for our communities.”

“…And a hundred thousand feet is ridiculously hard in an area like Florida or Ohio, but we came out with different content pieces or suggestions on how you, okay. You live in Florida, we’ll find a bridge and figure out how, what the elevation gain is on that bridge and go and do it as many times as you need to, until you hit a hundred thousand feet. And we had people do that and we had people manipulate their treadmills to add even more vertical gain on their treadmill so they could accomplish it. Or they spent a lot of time on the trainer. And we also launched a relay option, which was really successful particularly for families. So children haven’t been able to participate in our events but they could do this challenge…”

“I mean, it’s {Dirty Kanza race re-branding to Unbound} supposed to represent the feeling that people feel out there, like these roads, these, the Prairie, it feels limitless. And you’re kind of stepping away from all of reality when you’re out there riding 50, a hundred, 200, 350 miles of Flint Hills gravel. It’s also, it’s pretty unforgiving out there and yeah, so we’re excited and no rebrand is easy, you know, I’ve joked like how do you rebrand Pepsi? Or how do you rebrand Nike, and while I understand we are not Pepsi or Nike, we are in our space.”




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