SBD/March 18, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NYRR Facing Issues Such As Declining Entries, Search For New N.Y. Marathon Title Sponsor

Wittenberg has been working to repair the marathon's image and finances
Questions about the future of the N.Y. Road Runners “persist, including whether its dominance has started to erode because of rival race organizers and disaffected runners,” according to Belson & Lehren of the N.Y. TIMES. Some of the group’s local races have had “a striking decline in finishers compared with numbers from a year ago.” Critics of NYRR said that the decline “indicates that runners are heading elsewhere.” The group “abruptly canceled” last year's N.Y. Marathon, “angering many participants.” Since then, NYRR President & CEO Mary Wittenberg has “tried to repair its image and finances.” She “negotiated an insurance settlement that allowed Road Runners to take the extraordinary step of offering refunds to entrants in November’s race.” She also has “re-emphasized the group’s charitable efforts to try to rebuild its brand in the city and among runners.” Of the 30,000 who chose a guaranteed spot in a future race after the cancellation, 20,000 “opted to run in this year’s marathon, an influx that is certain to crowd out other runners in the already competitive lottery.” The impact of the guaranteed entries “will become clearer next month, when registration opens.” Runners have also “complained that the quality of the food, medals and T-shirts" at NYRR races has "diminished in recent years as the races have grown.” Races put on by the Competitor Group -- which runs the rival Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Series -- and NYCRuns have “received high marks from runners, who have cited smaller crowds and better bagels, hot cocoa, T-shirts and other amenities.” ING also is “in the last year of its title sponsorship” of the N.Y. Marathon, and NYRR has been “exploring alternatives if ING does not renew.” It is unclear whether a new company “would pay as much as ING did” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/16).
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