When event organiser Sarah Ratzlaff was searching for a spot to host one of her ZOOMA Women’s Race Series events—a women’s only race weekend typically held in sunny resort locations—the executive knew exactly where to turn. “Bermuda is a world class destination,” says Ratzlaff, who as owner and Chief Inspiration Officer of ZOOMA creates empowering running events for female athletes. “It was only natural that we took an experience like ZOOMA, which is very unique and very special, and brought it to a country that is exactly the same.” In fact, the three-day weekend was ZOOMA’s first international event—what turned out to be the ultimate active girls’ getaway featuring a half marathon, 10K, two-mile lighthouse run and a host of island-inspired activities to keep its competitors busy when not running.
“The best part about Bermuda is that you can use the natural beauty of the island to create these really unique experiences for your guests,”
"The best part about Bermuda is that you can use the natural beauty of the island to create these really unique experiences for your guests," says Ratzlaff who kept her athletes engaged with the destination by planning beachfront yoga sessions, excursions to iconic attractions like the Crystal Caves and the Royal Naval Dockyard and hosting boisterous post-race parties sponsored by legendary Bermuda Goslings Rum. “It’s not easy to plan an international event, but I felt so supported as the race organizer,” says Ratzlaff. “The entire island is turn-key.”
In fact, it was her ongoing collaboration with the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) and its many stakeholders that made her experience organizing this year’s ZOOMA event so seamless. “When we were searching for potential sponsors, no one had to explain the legitimacy of who I was, which I spend a lot of time doing domestically,” she says. “With the BTA’s help, we were able to develop a variety of partnerships to support what was one of our most anticipated races,” says Ratzlaff. “It’s just one of the many reasons why the Bermuda leg of the ZOOMA Women’s Race Series was so successful.”
Another reason? With two-hour flights from most east coast gateways and an impressive lineup of full-service hotels and resorts, Bermuda is well-positioned to host large groups and events that rely on its significant tourism infrastructure. Just take it from Vail Ross, a ZOOMA Bermuda competitor who consults for the hospitality and tourism industry from her office in Nashville, Tennessee. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that Bermuda is very easy to get to,” says Ross, who flew to the island from Atlanta and returned via nonstop service through Boston. “As compared to other beautiful destinations that can sometimes take all day to fly to,” says Ross, “getting to Bermuda was a breeze.”
Another positive according to Ross, was Bermuda’s wide range of accommodations, since she and her group of five women wanted to stay in a private home with a pool, where they could cook for themselves. Thanks to a recent collaboration with Airbnb, Bermuda now boasts over 500 registered hosts, making the island perfect for all types of group getaways. “The entire event was well-executed,” says Ross, “and ZOOMA did a great job working with the destination and its vendors to ensure that all of us who came for the race had fun while we were there.” That’s chiefly due to the hard work of ZOOMA owner Sarah Ratzlaff and the dedicated BTA team helping her on the ground—but also thanks to Bermuda itself because of course, a destination is only as brilliant as its local population.
“There’s just something really special about the people of Bermuda,” says Ratzlaff, who sings the praises of the island’s tourism sector including the taxi drivers, hotel workers and restaurant staff who keep the island’s many visitors happy. “Everyone wants you to have a magical day,” she says. “It’s such a welcoming and embracing culture.” So will the ZOOMA Women’s Race Series return to Bermuda? “100%,” says Ratzlaff. “Bermuda was the main reason why we put on one of the best events we’ve ever done,” she says, “and I can’t wait to come back and do it again next year.”