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Moe Johnson — Running with Moe

Running with Moe: Why sponsoring local races can be a worthy investment for companies

Saturday, July 23, 2022

I started putting on races over 40 years ago and learned through many mistakes and trials to eventually get most of it right. There is more to putting on a race than most runners realize. When I asked a runner to follow me through the process of organizing a race most of them are amazed by the details and so-called little things that go into putting on a race. One of the hardest tasks is finding sponsors to help cover the cost of putting on a race. Without sponsors, any organization putting on a race to earn some money for their group will be lucky to break even or make a small profit. The T-shirt for each runner, the awards, the refreshments and advertising are not free. Then the cost of the timing system that runners expect today is also a cost. The difference between the costs of putting on a race and the fee the runner pays to run the race is a difficult decision for race organizers. If the fee is too little the group does not make a profit. If it is too expensive the runners will not come to the race and once again the group is fortunate to break even. This is why sponsors are such an integral part of organizing a race.

The request for funds from a sponsor is a critical part of covering the cost of the race. For a small 5K or 10K race with a high-tech T-shirt, a nice award, refreshment, and race timing can run between $2,000-3,000 or more. A race organization can cut the cost down by providing cheaper quality race T-shirts and small awards to age group winners. By limiting the number of age groups and only giving one or two awards to runners, the cost can also be reduced. The problem with cutting costs by providing low-quality T-shirts and awards is that runners will not come back for a second race. If the organization wants to make the race an annual event, it is better to give the runners a reason to want to come back to the next race. Good quality shirts and awards will increase the cost of putting on a race and this is where sponsors are needed.

Looking at the race from a sponsor’s point of view and what benefit they can get out of donating funds to your organization to make it worth their time and money is an answer they need to know. The usual practice from the race organizers is that the larger amount of funding the bigger and more prominent their company and logo are on the shirt and advertising. Much of this often comes from the size of the city and the number of runners that will be in the race. Smaller communities often do not have large companies with a nice advertising budget. In smaller cities, businesses are often bombarded with a large number of requests from local organizations and groups for help with their requests for funds to operate. Most of the groups use the money raised from the race to help fund non-profit organizations or scholarships or charities that are needing funds. Sponsors need to know where their funds are going and if it will be helpful for the community they do business in.

The donation of funds to an organization for a race has its logo put on the back of the race T-shirt and on advertising for the race. How does a logo on the back of a race shirt compare to an ad in the newspaper, a billboard or a bigger sign on the front of their building? A small race will average anywhere from 100-400 runners depending on the race. Runners will wear that race shirt to other races, wear it around the town and to events they attend. When you think of 200 runners wearing the race sponsor to 25 events or races, that means roughly 5,000 times the race logo has been seen by others.

One other benefit for a sponsor is that if the race shirt is well-designed, that race shirt is worn for more than one year. I have race shirts that I wear that are 10-15 years old. I saved the first race shirt we put on when the Cinco De Mayo 10K race was run in 1979. The fact that the shirt is still wearable for special occasions shows how well a sponsorship can be a long-term investment in advertising for a company. The T-shirts for the Better Half Marathon that McCoy’s Building sponsored in 1983 for eight years are still seen at races. ARA Radiology was a sponsor for several years — the race lasted 33 years and had several thousand runners over the years wear the race shirt. Subway of Central Texas sponsored the race for the last five years as the only sponsor and those race shirts are still being worn for people to see. Sponsoring a race for a business often makes good sense.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666