High Five Events acquires Conley Sports – and some of Austin’s biggest races

Participants run in the 2015  Austin Marathon and Half Marathon in downtown Austin. Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Participants run in the 2015 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon in downtown Austin. Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The company that produces some of Austin’s biggest races, including the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, is hanging up its running shorts – for now.

High Five Events, an event production company owned and operated by Dan Carroll, Stacy Keese and Jack Murray, this week acquired Conley Sports Productions from John and Stacey Conley. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A spectator holds a sign during the 2015 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

A spectator holds a sign during the 2015 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“We’re extremely excited,” Keese said. “We feel fortunate they’re entrusting us with their baby.”

Conley served as race director of the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon for 19 years, and spent 20 years working with the 3M Half Marathon. Combined, more than 20,000 runners participated in the races this year, which brought an estimated $25 million into the Austin economy in 2015.

Conley Sports Productions will still put on the events in 2016, with High Five Events standing in the wings. Runners shouldn’t notice any changes for now, both Conley and representatives from High Five Events say.

But adjustments, possibly in the form of course changes, may be coming down the road, said Keese, one of the co-owners of High Five Events. “We’re still working on that,” Stacy Keese says. “We have to get approval on ideas from the city.”

“In general, having fresh blood and a different perspective will allow things to change,” she said. “We want to keep it in the same tradition as Conleys, and we want to make participants and Austinites happy.”

High Five Events started with a single triathlon in 2003. Since then it has produced a slate of events, including the Austin American-Statesman Capitol 10,000, Lifetime Tri CapTex, Ironman 70.3 Austin, Livestrong Challenge, Rookie Tri and FloTrack Beer Mile World Championship.

The fitness community also knows Murray and Keese through their shop Jack & Adam’s Bicycles, which merged with Bicycle World in March. Murray has worked with Conley Sports on the marathon for 15 years, doing everything from loading water stop supplies to coordinating bicycle escorts for the lead runners.

Conley, a retired registered nurse, says he and his wife will take time off to consider opportunities before deciding what comes next.

“We haven’t given much thought to what is next other than we love this city and are committed to this city and want to have some sort of presence here doing what we love,” Conley said. “We’ll continue to be a force for good – that’s always been our mission and vision.”

He says he’ll organize a passing of the torch ceremony at this year’s marathon to mark the changing of the guard.

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