Event:17 March 2013
From helping organise the Laureus Sports Awards, to presenting a sportive in Wiltshire; Emma Slevin has gone from big budget, high heels and sparkling dresses to lycra, cleats and tan lines in four short years, hosting a premium experience at Longleat house.
Describing herself as a cyclist first and a businesswoman second, Slevin’s first impression of sportive organisation was one of a simple world. But in 2013, with the third edition of her Lionheart event two weeks away and a second event in the planning stages, her appreciation of how to deliver a quality event is greater than ever.
Growing from 500 entrants in 2010, to a capped 1500 in 2013, increases come from riders who take part, go home and bring back two friends.
But the year-long process to cater for those who keep coming back to the event set in 900 acres of landscaped gardens – one Slevin describes as “brilliantly exhausting”, was a long way from her first impression of sportives.
“Coming from corporate events where the budget and staffing was almost limitless to sportives which, on first impression I couldn’t believe how simple they were. But once I’d looked at it there were so many aspects to making a brilliant sportive and that’s what I’ve concentrated on in the last couple of years; identifying the small things that make a sportive special.
“For us every rider is personal and their safety is paramount. Part of what we do is to involve British Cycling in every aspect of the event and if I could put a tracker on every cyclist on my event I would do it tomorrow.”
Today, taking inspiration from events in France, Slevin aims to go beyond ensuring quality and value for riders, looking instead to the area playing host.
Overflowing with passion for the sport, she barrages Parish notice boards and county magazines to excite the local community in wake of the depart of the Tour of Britain from Frome, which received great support in 2009.
“We are totally grassroots, we are all cyclists. I genuinely want the people in the villages to feel like something exciting is happening. France has a great sense of community and to grow that in the UK, to have the UK villages get involved would be great. And I am seeing the result from it.
“It’s impossible to say whether that’s coming from us, or more likely the cataclysmic summer when people have taken cycling into their hearts and got onto their bikes.”
With hopes to extend to a second event in the north-west of England late-2013, Slevin is satisfied her model of sportive organisation works and expansion can follow.
“The Lionheart was created by cyclists for cyclists and as an event company we’re really young. Yes, this is the only sportive we do, but I’ve spent a year researching other areas and there will be others, but the biggest thing was to get the model of the Lionheart right before driving it forward.”
Entries for the 2013 Endura Trek Lionheart sportive are sold out, but exclusive details of Emma’s latest venture will be published on British Cycling’s sportive homepage.