History of the ING New York City Marathon
The New York City Marathon is a major sporting event that began in 1970 as a humble affair. In the beginning, it attracted only 127 participants who paid one dollar entry fee to run in a 26.2 mile race around the central park. Only 55 participants made it through to the finish line.
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The New York Marathon has grown from being a modest sporting event when it was founded by New York Road Runners and Fred Lebow as the co-founder to become one of the greatest marathons in the world. In 2010, the event had 45,103 finishers.
This sporting event takes place on the first Sunday of November and draws professional runners and amateurs from the entire globe. This popular event uses the lottery system to select athletes. In addition, New York Road Runners’ members are selected by merit usually from a recognized running club.
Nowadays, the mention of the word marathon brings into perspective the image of New York City. The event has transcended from the initial times when it had few fans to the present moment where it attracts over, “two million cheering spectators and 315 million worldwide television viewers” (The ING New York City Marathon par. 1).
Presently, the New York Marathon is conducted on a course that crosses through, “Staten Island through Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx to Manhattan” (The ING New York City Marathon par. 1).
The redrawing of the race course by Lebow helped to bring the New York City together, and elevate the sport to an international status.
“The New York City Marathon’s unique mix of athletics, neighborhood spirit, and international media attention soon attracted the world’s best runners to the annual fall race” (World Marathon Majors par. 4). The New York Marathon has acted as a blueprint on which many other marathons in popular cities in the world are organized.
The elimination of international sanctions against South African athletes and the subsequent participation of Willie Mtolo gave the event worldwide media coverage. Also, the breaking of the women’s record in 26.2 mile race by Tegla Loroupe in 1994 helped prove to the world that African women are equally competitive. Another milestone in the New York Marathon is the inclusion of the wheelchair division in the event in 2000.
This allowed people with disabilities to participate once again proving that, “disability is not inability”. “Now the ING New York city marathon has grown to become one of the most competitive wheelchair marathons anywhere in the world, with more than 140 wheelchair and handcycle athletes. This has attracted a wide variety of ambulatory athletes with disabilities to participate in the event” (World Marathon Majors par. 6).
Impacts of the ING New York Marathon to the City
Social and community impacts
The ING New York Marathon is an urban based race that attracts millions of New York residents and international spectators to watch it. The competition has a number of prizes, with the first runner ups winning 65, 000 dollars and the least, usually the fifth runner winning 7,500 dollars. There are also a lot of bonuses earned by the participants each year.
This sporting event has had a number of impacts on New York City’s public image. With the high crime rates and regular rivalries between ethnic factions in New York City, the event has contributed to changing these perceptions (World Marathon Majors par. 3). The event brings the diverse population together irrespective of cultural or ethnic backgrounds to cheer the runners.
The city residents, thus, use the event as the time to overcome the racial and ethnic diversities as they cheer the competitors. The participants who compete regularly in the New York race report that they get motivated by the crowds who are enthusiastic and friendly.
Compared to traditional sporting events like baseball, football, and hockey which are dependent on the local population, the New York City Marathon is globally determined, hence making the city an international destination. This is particularly highlighted by the role the event played in 2001, a few months after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre twin towers.
The marathon became the first international event to occur after the attacks depicting the city being open for business. At this time, the event attracted almost 30,000 participants and over 2 million spectators. This demonstrated that though the city suffered a lot, it was a city of hope and potential. The event played a critical role in healing a shattered city and country (World Marathon Majors par. 3).
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The ING New York City Marathon is organized and owned by the New York road racers club. The New York Road Runners club was established as a premier community with the objectives of promoting health, developing community and advancing desirable social change, besides providing opportunities for enjoyment (World Marathon Majors par. 4).
Towards this endeavor, the ING New York City Marathon has historically raised a lot of funds for charity causes helping empower the different communities in the city. In 2011, the ING New York City Marathon, “created an unprecedented charitable impact, raising $ 34 million for 190 nonprofit causes” (World Marathon Majors par.4).
Most of the funds raised are allocated to charity organizations based in New York City, while some of the funds are channeled to community programs and initiatives that help advance the health and lives of young people who often lack access to regular physical exercise. The event also helps in mobilizing funds for various charities such as helping stroke patients.
Besides the charitable impacts, the New York City Marathon is also credited for its impact on the community. Through the involvement of the wider community by programs such as, “Mighty Milers and Young runners school-based” (Tanser 235), the event promotes physical, emotional and educational capabilities through racing.
When considering the economical impacts, the ING New York City Marathon has been dubbed as, “the biggest one-day economic sports event in the new York city area” (Weiner par. 3). According to the New York Road Runners club, the economic impact of this yearly sporting race is estimated to be around $ 250 million. This makes a very considerable economic impact on New York City.
For instance, in the year 2009, the race attracted close to 40, 000 runners from different parts of the world. The runners, their families, and fans, therefore, had to make travelling and accommodation arrangements in New York City.
Some people had to drive, take a train or a flight into the New York City airports. In addition, the travelers had to dine in local hotels and use local means of transport. This event, thus, helps in generating income and boosting the economy of New York City.
According to Weiner, data from the New York Road Runners club also shows that in 2007, “marathon participants and spectators spent $ 71 million on hotels, $ 45 million on food and beverages, $ 42 million in retail merchandise, over $ 16 million on entertainment, $ 14 million on transportation, and $ 11 million in running and fitness gear at the New York City Marathon Health and fitness expo” (Weiner par.5).
Most of the participants in this race have been shown to have an income exceeding $250,000, and come from abroad, residing in New York for almost one week. These participants perceive the New York Marathon as celebratory event, and thus they probably spend a lot of money as compared to ordinary tourists.
Impacts of the ING New York Marathon to the United States Sports Scene
The apparent success of the New York City Marathon has resulted into advancement of sports throughout the United States and the world at large. This is exemplified by the way many modern city marathons are modeled on it. Currently, other cities such as Boston conduct major marathons, which also impact greatly the communities in those cities both economically and socially.
In spite of the beneficial impacts associated with the New York City Marathon, the event also impacts the community negatively. This is especially related to the environment since a lot of waste is generated during the event. For example, in 2010, the New York Department of Sanitation is said to have, “collected 114.29 tons of litter, 6.34 tons of paper and 2.98 tons of metal, glass and plastic after the marathon” (Patch par.1).
The event is also reported to generate a lot of plastic bags and other wastes. This raises issues concerning environmental sustainability.
Business and Sponsorship strategies of the ING New York City marathon
The New York City Marathon is a sporting event that is organized by the New York Road Runners and sponsored by the financial group ING. The ING is the official sponsor of this sporting event. In addition to ING, other partners are, “Asics, Subway, United, Timex, Coors, Dunkin’ Donuts, Motorola, Gatorade, Foot Locker, Nissan, Poland springs, PowerBar, Emerald Nuts, Tiffany, Ups and Unilever” (Reed par.3).
The success of the New York City marathon is as a result of vibrant marketing strategies. These clever sponsorship strategies have led to an annual increase in popularity of the event. The sponsors benefit as the event helps in establishing a more intimate contact between the consumers and the products. By incorporating many sponsors, the event organizers reach many consumers, runners and viewers.
The success of the New York City Marathon event is, therefore, mainly as a result of the existence of strong partnerships that stratify the mission of New York Road Runners.
The partners facilitate the establishment of dynamic and powerful relationships with stakeholders through a, “commitment to running, community and giving back” (NYRRR par.1). In promoting the event, the organizers rely on social media, digital and mobile communications. The New York Road Runners also engage domestic and international travel agents in encouraging many people to participate in the event.
The New York City Marathon is designed in such a way that it attracts many sponsors through provision of an engaged and passionate audience. The organizers also offer the sponsors some cost saving fees for creative and active involvement besides offering the sponsors opportunities to demonstrate corporate social responsibilities.
For instance, Subway which is a fast food restaurant, uses the ING New York City Marathon to, “promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle by encouraging customers to commit to fit” (NYRR par. 4). The event made Subway increase the scope of its sponsorship and the runners, hence attracting a wider audience.
The popularity of the event also emerges from the New York Road Runner’s mission of enhancing health for all people through the power of running and fitness.
As such, the New York Road Runner’s approach to races, community activities, instruction and learning facilities, and youth programs to the population plays a vital role in inspiring, imparting knowledge and encouraging people to participate in running, and maintaining the practice in their entire lives (NYRR par. 2).
Another strategy that helps in marketing the New York City Marathon is the commitment of the organizers to the future runners. The New York Road Runners are passionately involved in the delivery of youth fitness programs that help in enlightening and motivating thousands of kids from marginalized communities in the United States and the whole world. These programs are carried out in schools, communities or online.
Examples are the, “Mighty Milers, Young Runners, Youth Jamboree and a Running Start programs” (NYRR par.2). The Mighty Milers program is a running activity designed to encourage kids to be involved in running in order to prevent obesity and other diseases. The program helps the participants to develop their self image and learn to work on their individual goals.
The organizers of the New York City Marathon usually give logistical, financial and training support for the implementation of the program at various settings.
Another program that has helped in marketing the New York City Marathon is the Young Runners program, which is an activity that employs a team-oriented framework to assist kids in developing skills in setting goals and integrating running in their daily lives. The students get mentored by experienced coaches to participate in races between 1 to 6.2 miles (NYRR par. 3).
The New York Road Runners also use developmental track and field programs to increase the popularity of marathon. These programs target kids who are enrolled in New York City public schools. The program helps the students develop active lifestyles through running and other sports.
The New York Road Runners works in conjunction with the city’s Department of Education and the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation to implement the developmental track and field program. The organizers help in the provision of expert training, youth mentorship and spots for students to participate in marathon races (Reeds, par. 4).
Through another program called Team for Kids, the New York Road Runners also helps in mobilizing adult runners across the world to raise funds for New York Road Runners youth service through running. The runners in return are granted entry into sporting events such as the ING New York Marathon.
The funds raised help the organizers to offer free or cheaper health and fitness programs to young people who often have limited access to regular physical exercises.
The Team for Kids program also targets the corporate world by encouraging companies to initiate team building and promotion of health and wellness of employees. The organizers provide incentives such as guaranteed entry into the ING New York Marathon and training (Reeds par. 5).
The success of the ING New York City Marathon arises from marketing strategies that are based on web, e-commerce, social media, apps, training, and education. This helps in expanding the audience and drawing a large number of participants. The use of the web as a marketing strategy helps in facilitating registration for the race while providing a more detailed coverage of the event.
To attract more sponsors into this sporting event, the ING New York City Marathon aims at providing sponsorship packages that offer means so the sponsors can market their products (Robbins 147).
This helps the partners to gain from their investments in sponsorships, hence promising positive financial returns to the sponsors. In order to register for participation in the New York City Marathon, the majority of participants use social media tools such as the customized organization website NYCMarathon.org.
This site is a significant asset to the New York Road Runners as close to 98% of the runners register for the sport through it. The organizers have, therefore, exploited this to attract sponsors who in turn benefit from the high traffic that is seen.
The site, therefore, helps the sponsors market their products. The New York Road Runners also attract sponsors for the sporting events by adding value to the sponsors through marketing their products using other channels (Robbins 196).
Future Challenges of the ING New York Marathon
The major challenge the New York Road Runners have to deal with in the future is the trend of ambush marketing during the sporting event. The ING New York City Marathon has always been an avenue for unofficial marketers and retailers to market their products. As compared to a stadium where marketing can be regulated, in the marathon race, it is almost impossible to regulate marketing.
Ambush marketing infringes on the rights of the official sponsors, thus negatively affecting their investment in sponsoring the event. This is likely to cause the organizers to lose many sponsors who may feel that they are not profiting. This may reduce the revenue source for the New York City Marathon while impacting its important programs such as charity events (Robbins 200).
Another challenge that threatens the future of the ING New York Marathon is the massive amount of waste that is generated during the event. As mentioned earlier, the event leads to accumulation of tons of plastic waste. Moreover, there is air pollution due to increased traffic during the event as visitors and fans travel using the various means of transport.
If not addressed, this is going to pose a huge challenge in sustaining the environment. This works against the mission of the organizers, which is founded on promoting the sport of running, advancing health and fitness, and attainment of community needs (Patch par. 4).
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NYRR. Our Impact. New York Road Runners. 2012. Web.
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Reed, Chris J. Partnership Marketing Grows the NY Marathon. BrandRepublic. 2011. Web.
Robbins, Liz. A Race like No Other: 26.2 Miles through the Streets of New York. New York: Herpercollins.2009.
Tanser, Toby. The Essential Guide to Running the New York City Marathon. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group. 2003. Print.
The ING New York City Marathon. About the ING New York City Marathon. November 4, 2012. 2012. Web.
The ING New York City Marathon. History of the ING New York City Marathon. 2012. Web.
Weiner Evan. New York City Marathon is Area’s Biggest One-day Sports Event. newjerseynewsroom.com. 2010. Web.
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