Thanks to Eddie Wooten up at the News & Record in Greensboro for allowing me to share with you his recent blog entry about how the N.C. Marathon organizes plan to reshape and refocus the event next year:
N.C. Marathon focuses on the runner experience
The best goodie bags. Organized cheering groups, flanked by pep bands or drum lines, giving shoutouts to runners all around the course. And a professional race announcer calling out the names of finishers as they cross the line.
Melissa Fourrier, the director of the North Carolina Marathon, says her organization is focused on the runner experience as preparations continue for the event March 20 in High Point. The race's slogan is, "Put some fun in your run at the N.C. Marathon."
"Last year we were focused more on getting the course squared away, course safety, water stations," Fourrier says. "This year that’s in place, so we’re looking more at fringe benefits for the runners."
The race was in Greensboro in its debut in May 2008, then in High Point in May 2009. The March 20 date on the 2010 calendar will fall about six weeks earlier and most likely in cooler weather.
The cheer zones will be a new feature, Fourrier says. Fourteen are scheduled to be spread around the course, and Fourrier is inviting community and school groups, including pep bands and drum lines, to get involved, to scream and to make signs to encourage runners. There’s even prize money: $500 to the charity of the winning cheer zone’s choice.
And Fourrier has recruited Creigh Kelley, a longtime race director, consultant and announcer nationally, to work the event.
"Just stepping it up a notch," she says.
The goal is to get 4,000 runners registered for the marathon, half-marathon and 5K, Fourrier says.
Other highlights related to the race:
TRAINING SCHOOL: Liz Lindsay will coordinate a training school for the three races. A registration event is set for 6-8 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Deep River Recreation Center, 1529 Skeet Club Road, High Point.
THE STARS ARE OUT: Endurance runner Charlie Engle of Greensboro will be the honorary chairman. Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek, a Greensboro native, will be grand marshal and will judge the cheer zones.
TITLE SPONSOR: UnitedHealthcare is back as the title sponsor, which means $50,000 in cash from the company to race organizers and $15,000 in in-kind contributions, Fourrier says. The race’s budget is $170,000, which will be met with additional sponsors and registration fees, she says.
FOSTER FRIENDS: Foster Friends of North Carolina, for which Fourrier is the executive director, is the race beneficiary. If the race meets its financial goals, Fourrier says, that means $75,000 for the Foster Friends program, supporting sending children to camp, buying them yearbooks and eyeglasses and also supporting a mentoring program.
GETTING THE WORD OUT: Race promotion will be important for organizers. Fourrier says that means getting the word out in Runner's World, Running Times, Marathon Guide and Marathon & Beyond; radio advertising; use of Facebook and Twitter; emails to runners and volunteers from previous years; and community partners.
Have you run the N.C. Marathon before? Thoughts on the changes? Or do you have other general feedback?