Top runners like to compete. Marathon event organizers compete just as hard for their business. Today’s Thirtieth Annual Long Beach Marathon took place on the same day as the world famous Chicago Marathon and put organizers to the test to keep Long Beach a step ahead in the race for registrations. Professional management by the private company “Run Racing” showed a case example of sports event management.
The Long Beach Marathon went the extra mile to help runners keep up the pace. The program offered ten pace teams with very visible balloon clusters so that runners could pick a target finish time and follow with a group of equally competitive runners. This proved a dependable way to help runners achieve a personal best. And the pace team sponsorships by Clif Bar boosted the bottom line, too. Photo finish photos by the professional official photography services vendor Marathonphoto.com. added a professional image.
The option of an easier paced half-marathon reached out to a larger market. Together with a bike race on a nearby course, the multiple choices boosted total paid attendance over twenty-five thousand. Over fifty-thousand attended the affiliated sports equipment expo. Group sales to running clubs like L.A. Runners Club also boosted attendance and enthusiasm.
This quality product comes at a price. The registration fee this year was $125 for the full-marathon, a hefty thirty-nine percent increase from $90 just two years ago. Early registration discounts offering registration at $99 before February 28 of 2013 made the big jump a little easier to budget for, but out-of-state runners needed to budget at least $200 for the experience. The net result pumped over $20 million into the local economy.
South Dakota running enthusiast Kristen deBerg found it was well worth the trip. The scenery and sunny weather trumped Chicago. The free hotel shuttle provided by the Atlantic Avenue Holiday Inn made it easy to get to the start line and get home from the finish line. Other area hotels were also accommodating – the Best Western at the Convention Center offered race runners a special late check-out program so that they could freshen-up and change after running the race. UPS made it easy for local runners to get the most out of the race with a customized gear check and shuttle service. And since UPS does not normally deliver on Sundays, this creative extra use of its branded brown trucks was extra profitable.
Not every detail of the Thirtieth Annual Long Beach Marathon was perfect. The exception shows how difficult it can be to supervise a complex sports event as things come down to the wire. The official October 2013 press release had a noticeable “cut-and-paste” error. The text promoted the “the two-day Health & Fitness Expo – FREE to the public — at the Long Beach Convention Center, Hall C, open Friday, October 5, from noon-7 pm and Saturday, October 6, from 9 am- 6 pm. The Expo will feature more than 100 exhibitors, highlighting the latest in the running, health and fitness industry.” In fact, this year’s Health & Fitness Expo took place Friday, October 11 and Saturday, October 12, not on the dates mistakenly carried over from last year’s press release text.