Emslie back on the event launch trail with partners Stateside

Veteran event organiser Doug Emslie, chairman of Cuil Bay Capital and Raccoon Media Group in the UK, is back on the event launch trail and spoke exclusively to EW about the new project that kicks off in Palisades Tahoe, California on 26 June.

Emslie and two partners have announced the launch of TrailCon, a groundbreaking event for the trail running community.  The event  aims to celebrate, he says, the spirit of unity, innovation, and collective progress within the fast-growing sport.

Emslie, a keen amateur runner himself, says the idea is to create TrailCon as a “vibrant forum where passionate trail enthusiasts, industry senior executives, and visionary leaders converge to chart the course for an even brighter future”.

The project kicks off with a preview event, ‘A Taste of TrailCon,’ on 26 June, 2024. Emslie promises energetic panel discussions, networking opportunities, and he says the taster event will set down a marker for the main event, as TrailCon launches proper on 24-25, 2025.

Emslie explains that the plan is to position the event between the iconic Broken Arrow Skyrace and Western States 100, in order to harnesses the energy of these premier races to create a transformative experience.

Emslie is acting as co-organiser in his own personal capacity alongside partner Brendan Madigan, a local Tahoe resident and owner of the 49-year-old speciality retailer Alpenglow Sports, and who brings a wealth of independent experience to the TrailCon discussions as the event creator and race director of Broken Arrow.

The third member of the organising team is Dylan Bowman, pro runner and CEO of Freetrail. He is a driving force behind trail industry media and co-race director of Gorge Waterfall and The Big Alta events.

Emslie can also rely on his experience in this field, having  organised the Boston Run Show and the Boston Outdoor Show via his role at Raccoon Media.

He says that A Taste of TrailCon will begin on 26 June with panel discussions and insights from industry luminaries and be followed by a networking event. Confirmed speakers include, Craig Thornley, Sally McRae, Catherine Poletti, Tim Tollefson, Zoë Rom, and more. Emslie emphasises: “As our industry matures, TrailCon serves as a rallying point for all stakeholders to envision and create a brighter future for trail running.”

Brendan Madigan says: “Running Broken Arrow has shown me the power of our community coming together. TrailCon is our chance to shape the future of our sport through meaningful dialogue and collaboration.”

Dylan Bowman adds: “In a time of rapid change, TrailCon unites us in our shared passion for trail running. Together, we can overcome challenges and propel our industry forward.”

Although Emslie is known primarily for his exhibitions organising, and brokered the $1bn deal selling his Tarsus Group to Informa in 2023 when he was CEO, he tells EW the idea with TrailCon is to start as a “high-level conference debating where the industry is”, and then to look at plans to develop opportunities for products and ways of showcasing innovations in the sector.

He envisages TrailCon’s content being split into four categories: Firstly, examining how running events are staged, with sessions targeted at race directors and participants – both independent organisers and consolidators. Secondly, TrailCon will provide a platform for debate development involving media and all keen on discussing trail running’s evolution. And here Emslie believes there is a large audience, with some trail runs attracting over 10,000 viewers on live streaming currently. A third category, he picks out is ‘brands and athlete’s and how they work together, a stream that would involve social influencers too, he foresees.

The fourth category will be Retail and discussion of how that side of the trail running sector is developing. That would include issues around clothing and equipment, nutrition, etc, against a background, Emslie says, of an upturn in business being done by direct to consumer retail outlets of around 5%.

This year’s taster event preview is free to attend and more detail about the project can be found at: visit www.trailconference.com.