Syracuse Half Marathon Case Study

We have a series Customer Case Studies, in which we take your stories and share your challenges and successes as a learning tool for other RunSignUp users.  This Syracuse Half Marathon Case Study focuses on creating demand through a premium event, and customizing a race to encourage group participation and donations. 

View the PDF Version of the Syracuse Half Marathon Case Study

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The Syracuse Half Marathon and RunSignUp: 
The Syracuse Half Marathon focuses on event quality to build participation in three short years, and uses RunSignUp tools to support their sellout in three days.

About the Syracuse Half Marathon:

Picture3The Syracuse Half Marathon was created in 2013 as a joint venture between Leone Timing and Fleet Feet Syracuse, under the umbrella of Upstate Event Management.  The two companies teamed up to put together high quality races through their combined marketing tools & logistical strengths.  In year 1, they drew 1,137 runners despite opening registration a mere 3 months prior to Race Day; year 2 saw a sellout 1,500 runners in 95 days.  With 2015 registration selling out at an increased capacity of 2,400 runners in under 3 days, the race is looking at new options to accommodate area demand.

Giving RunSignUp a Chance

Leone Timing had been discussing RunSignUp with Sales Lead, Bryan Jenkins, and they felt he really knew his stuff, and had some interesting ideas.  Rather than take any chances with races they time for others, Leone Timing decided to give RunSignUp a chance with this race because it was their race.

Leone Timing was happy with the RunSignUp experience: they have found the system to have a lot of tools and flexibility, and the company to be open to new suggestions and ideas. Moving forward, they now have enough confidence in RunSignUp to introduce the company to other races that they Time, and work with RunSignUp more broadly.

Creating Runner Demand Through a High Quality Event

“We really made an effort to retain people, and people like quality.  We basically put every dollar back into the race to make people want to come back.” – Rick Streeter, Leone Timing

As a new event, the Syracuse Half Marathon had 2 major goals:Picture7

  • Offer unique amenities to differentiate themselves from other races
  • Create a special experience to ensure significant retention rates and a strong word of mouth

Some of the amenities & experiences that set them apart:

  • The race starts and finishes at the OnCenter Syracuse Convention Center, Picture6essentially “the best facility in Syracuse.” It was the first time the venue was used for a race, and provided nice toilet facilities and a warm up area.
  • They offer professionally catered food.
  • There is a live band and a festive atmosphere.
  • The Giveaway is a nice, high quality, long sleeve shirt.
  • They have a unique course designed as a large loop of Syracuse, highlighting the variety of the city – much like the NY Marathon is designed to highlight the boroughs of NY.

A Record Sellout and a Waiting List

Following their strong reception in the 2013 & 2014 races, Leone Timing expected the Picture52015 Race – even with the increase to 2,000 runners – to sellout.  The speed of the sellout, however, was a surprise to everyone.  They attribute the fast sellout to the product in previous years, and due to the sense of urgency created by having an announced Race Cap.

Within 2 days, 5 hours, the race had already hit 2,000.  The decision was made to allow an additional 400 runners; those spots were taken before the end of the third day.  They implemented a Waitlist to gauge the demand for opening up more spots to additional runners – while they are not yet sure if logistics will allow for adding more runners, the waitlist allows them to capture the information about potential runners while they explore their options for expanding.

“We thought it would sell out by February.  Hitting refresh on RunSignUp and just watching the numbers was…WOW.  We hit 1,100 runners in 12 hours.”  – Rich Streeter

Increasing Donations

The Syracuse Half collects donations for the Priscilla Mahar Animal Wellness Fund.  They set a goal to collect $5,000 for the organization, and with 3+ months until race day, they have collected 68% of their goal.  In addition to prompting donations during the registration process, they customized the generic “Donate” tab on thPicture4eir race page to show as “Help Local Animals”.  This simple change informs the potential donors of the cause instead of appearing to be just a simple request for money.

You can customize your Donation Tab on your Race Dashboard under Donations -> Setup.

Groups/Teams to Encourage Participation

Picture2Through their participation in local fitness communities, the Syracuse Half noticed that the area had a lot of active people who were not participating in local races.  However, a lot of those people enjoy the group aspect of their fitness choice, and like to participate in fitness activities together.  To encourage that sense of community, they set up a Group/Team option for Gyms, Crossfit Boxes, and Running Clubs to compete against each other.  The top 5 finisher times for each Group/Team will be compiled to declare a winner.  Offering team competition not only encourages members of each Gym/Club to convince each other to sign up, it also provides more marketing and cross promotion opportunities and helps build better relationships with area fitness centers.

As with the Donate Tab customization, the Syracuse Half customized the Group/Team Tab to Gym/Club to make it more applicable to their event.

Reports & Custom Questions to Demonstrate Event Value

Picture1One roadblock for the Syracuse Half Marathon was a Police Department that is inundated with events, and have a bad taste from the events that have not added community value.  To help demonstrate their value to the community, the Race asks Custom Questions about whether or not they are coming into Syracuse from out of town for the event.  This has 2 positive effects:

  • Promotes a local Hotel Partner
  • Provides data to give to the Police Department and the City of Syracuse to demonstrate their tourism value to the community, and encourage the City to work with them for the event.

The Takeaway

The Syracuse Half believes that the most valuable thing that they can do is to ensure that they have a sustainable event is to build goodwill among Runners, and maintain their good Runner relationships.  To do so, they focus on quality and positive experiences from Registration through Post-Race Party.

If you have a success story about your race, store or club, big or small,  email us
…we’d love to explore a Case Study on your topic!

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