With some 30,000 participants expected to take to the streets for its 40th edition this weekend, the third-largest running event in the west is changing the game on themed fun runs through strategic innovations–no luck required.
Pirates. Superheroes. Runaway Brides. Themed fun runs draw high-spirited participants across the globe, all year round. In addition to established series, novel new events are popping up faster than you can say “zombie dash.”
So, how can smart race directors set their events apart from the costume-clad crowd?
In this fast-paced industry, it goes without saying that you can’t simply spin out the same song and dance (and tutus and oversized shades) every year. A single word sums up the key to keeping runners coming back for a can’t-miss experience: innovation.
The Adidas Shamrock Run Portland is an ideal case in point. With some 30,000 participants expected to take to the streets for its 40th edition on March 18, the third-largest running event in the west is racing into the next generation with strategic innovations–no luck required.
The Shamrock Run rallies Portland around five different distances in honor of St. Patrick’s Day each year, including a 5K, 8K, 15K, half marathon and 4-mile walk. That’s three starting lines and two finish lines, to be exact–which might mean endless wait times on the big day, leaving excited runners cooling their jets.
Not on Motiv’s watch.
More than 224,000 people participate in Motiv Sports events annually, from regional favorites to full-on festivals. And as a Motiv event, the Shamrock Run utilizes race registration and management software from ACTIVE Network.
Mark Moore, Motiv’s Vice President of Technology, highlights IPICO UHF timing hardware that works seamlessly with ACTIVE On-Site and Dynamic Bib Assignment as key components of this event’s forward-thinking strategy. The solution enables on-demand bib number assignment while eliminating tedious manual processes and long waits for runners in pick-up lines. With a few simple clicks, race numbers are assigned on-demand, automatically syncing with the timing provider.
“We’ve been able to truly streamline the registration process,” says Moore. “There are no restrictions. You can sign up on your phone, your computer, anywhere, anytime and come in at your leisure to pick up your number.”
In addition to saving precious time for both organizers and participants, ACTIVE’s solution also means that it’s no longer necessary to cut off registration days or weeks ahead of the event due to administrative needs. Participants can keep rolling in up to race day.
“It gives us more opportunities to market the event,” says Moore. “I definitely think we’ll see an increase in participation because of that flexibility.”
And while he knows it can be an adjustment for participants the first time around, he’s seen Dynamic Bib Assignment win them over in a snap. “When they walk in and see how smooth the process is, any concerns and fears are immediately allayed. People wind up having a great experience because of it.”
Festivities are par for the course when it comes to themed runs, whether large or small in scale. Finish line fun is a big component of the Adidas Shamrock Run Portland, but what happens before the race is another way this event enhances the participant experience.
The two-day Shamrock Fitness Fair will attract 25,000 visitors to the Oregon Convention Center on Friday and Saturday leading up to race day Sunday. Bib and t-shirt pick-up are part of the event, streamlining the process as highlighted above, while showcasing goods and services from 60 vendors. The benefit is twofold.
First, exhibitors gain valuable face time with running and fitness-focused attendees. Presented by Moda Health, local and national brands at the fair represent food and beverage, health and wellness, apparel, automotive and more. A “Leprechaun Lane” area for kids, contests and special appearances are also part of the plan.
For participants, the Fitness Fair elevates the race by adding an element of exploration the whole family can enjoy. The fun of getting into character and celebrating an active lifestyle are carried throughout an entire weekend, creating even more memories and a greater sense of community around this much-anticipated event.
Over $1 billion is raised by running events each year for charitable causes, and philanthropy is a major motivator when it comes to participation. Couple this with the fact that millennials are more likely to do their homework on a charity and one-third of that coveted demographic has reported organizing charity events through their workplace.
The Adidas Shamrock Run Portland has donated more than $1.3 million over the past two decades, including gifts totaling $550,000 to its primary beneficiary, the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation. In addition, the Shamrock Super Team program offers the opportunity for company-sponsored or other special interest teams to receive rebates in the form of donations to the charities of their choice. Established in 2012, Super Team donations total nearly $150,000 to date, benefiting local non-profits across a range of services.
This forward-thinking fundraising option allows participants to support causes that resonate in their lives, while maintaining the Shamrock Run’s dedication to its primary beneficiary. When it comes to setting your event apart in an increasingly crowded space, count thoughtful fundraising options among the best ways to show potential participants that you care about what they care about.
Even the most well-established race–themed or otherwise–must keep innovating when it comes to marketing. With all the elements in place for an unforgettable 40th anniversary event, Motiv turned again to ACTIVE Network to drive demand for the Shamrock Run through digital channels.
“St. Patrick’s Day is one of the largest running days of the year, and as such it’s important to find ways to differentiate events,” says Kelly Pace, ACTIVE’s Senior Director of Product Management. “Motiv came to us with two goals: drive additional registrations to Shamrock Run Portland and increase engagement across their social channels.”
The ACTIVE Digital Marketing Services team customized a plan hyper-focused on these goals, incorporating social media and search engine advertising. Mixed media ads, videos, fun imagery and creative copy showcased the Shamrock Run for targeted audiences across the country. A course filled with waterfront views, creative costumes galore and a community of fun-loving, like-minded runners–who could resist?
ACTIVE’s digital marketing campaign was a huge success, generating over a 750% return on ad spend for Motiv, and accounting for 15% of the event’s registrations to date. Continuously monitored and optimized, the posts have received over 5,000 likes on Facebook, as well as 400-plus shares and nearly 300 comments. The event’s Facebook page has also accrued over 500 new followers.
When ACTIVE spoke with Motiv’s Vice President of Technology for this interview, he was gearing up for his trip to Portland. His wife and daughter will be running in full costume as he works the race. In conclusion, Moore says the technology and efforts of so many staff and volunteers ties back to a single mission: “Enhancing the athlete’s experience.”