Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What many Half Marathon Websites are Missing and Helpful Marketing Tips For Your Running Events

Industry Guidelines for Half Marathons (Managing, Marketing & Website Presence)

Marathon Events that include a Half Marathon Distance
Marathon websites that include a half marathon distance should list the event as Marathon and Half Marathon (or at minimum have half marathon clearly visible on the home page ..... not just the marathon). Half Marathons are a MUCH bigger market than the marathon, hence putting as much emphasis on the half marathon as the marathon is smart marketing.

Dates on Event Sites Should Include the Year the Event Date is Updated For
Websites should include the YEAR of the date they present on the website. Some websites have a date with no year, leaving it very difficult for runners and race calendars to determine if it is last year's event or the upcoming date.

Schedule Half Marathons One Year Out (this has become the expected norm)
If you cancel your event due to low participation, and didn't announce your date one year in advance, ... low participation is no longer an excuse. Let's call it poor planning. The half marathon industry and amount of runners out there is booming. Half Marathon events should identify and update their date for the half marathon event one year in advance. Ten months is so-so, 9 months is really pushin' it, and anything less than 8 months from an event date is unacceptable. For events that post their date less than 8 months away and wonder why their attendance is low, .... most half marathoners these days plan their event schedule a year out.

Be Proactive in Submitting Your Event to Online Race Calendars
Whether you are on top of the game, scheduling and announcing your upcoming race date a year out, or one of the procrastinators posting a date less than 8 months from event date, ...... at least be proactive and submit your updated dates to event sites like the Halfmarathonsearch.com Half Marathon Calendar. The sooner you get this updated, the sooner you will have visibility to your event(s), and draw in the runner's that like to plan ahead. This is also helpful for the race calendars that take a lot of time checking and re-checking to finally find your race date is updated.

Don't Change Your Website Link to Your Half Marathon 
Change the information on the page, but do NOT create a brand new page with a brand new link every year!  There are MANY reasons why you should not create a brand new page every year.

  • First, many people bookmark pages.  Ending up with a dead link to your event year after year, and having to go and re-search for you event is not a pleasant experience for the runners. 
  • It is not fun for online calendars to have to re-dig up your event every year when the link to your event stops working.
  • Creating a new page every year is bad for SEO (search engine optimization).  The longer a page is around, the more value it has, and the better it will do in search engines like google.
Don't Take Your Website Down when the Event is Over for the Year
This is just a hassle all around and similar to above, is frustrating for both runners, and online calendars.

Have at Least SOME all year round Online Presence
If you can't afford to create a website, create a FREE Blogger page. You can post pictures, announcements, date of event, etc, and have an all year round presence online. If you're an organization like a YMCA / YWCA, many notorious for the page and info disappearing after the event is finished for the year, it would be very helpful to create a page that would remain online all year.

List the City and State on the HOME PAGE.
There are many events out there that forget runners land on your half marathon website from all over the US and sometimes out of the country. It's critical to list your city and state on the home page, preferably right under the event name on the primary event home page. This includes some race directors assuming that runners know where some park is that you list on your site. Always design your content with the expectation that readers have no clue where you are located, and have no idea where your event is without the use of something like google maps or gps. List City, State, etc, along with full addresses to event site.

Build Relationships with Local and National Running Clubs
Be creative and give discounts to running clubs to create a great relationship with them. They will be more helpful than you can imagine, and can often get your event extra visibility. Not only that, but having relationships with running clubs such as national Fifty 50 States Half Marathon Club, can often bring you out of state runners in that may not have otherwise come out to your event, or even just great camaraderie. Not always immediate return, but in the long run, having those alliances can really go a long way.

Scenic Photos
It is very important to have photos on your home page of your half marathon venue if you want to truly attract halfmarathoners to your event. People are visual, and are attracted to scenic photos from your event course, in addition to photos of your bling, swag, and maybe even your post race party. This will help draw in runners from all over, such as 50 Staters looking for great events in other states and runners that are not from your community.

Support the Walker Friendly Community
A half marathon in this age is not all about the fast runners, but has become a great event to encourage healthy fun lifestyle, and has grown to be an event supported for both runners, joggers, and walkers (well not by all events of course). Walker friendly is a minimum of 4 hours to be considered an "official walker friendly" half marathon. We encourage your half marathon event to support the walking community and allow a minimum of 4 hours (fully supported) for walkers to finish. Also clearly making this visible on your website will help attract the walking community looking for walker friendly events.Halfmarathonsearch.com also uses a "W" symbol for official walker friendly half marathons on their site. If your event is "official walker friendly" of a minimum of 4 hours fully supported for half marathoners, make sure the "W" is listed by your event at Halfmarathonsearch.com and get the news out. For events that are trying to grow their field, promoting your walker friendly time allowed, and promoting your support for the walker friendly community, is a great way to draw in the growing community of half marathon walkers. Word gets out fast in the Half Marathon community!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Half Marathon VS Mini-Marathon - The Opinion of the Half Marathon Community - RESULTS ARE IN

Completely out of curiosity, we decided to reveal what the half marathon running community really feels about the push to call a half marathon a mini-marathon.

Taking a completely unbiased approach, we posted a poll to a half marathon community (an area that is made up of all half marathon runners across the United States).  We took a poll, February 2013, to see how the half marathon community of runners feel about the movement by some to change the commonly known identity of "half marathon" for the 13.1 distance, to Mini-Marathon.  Results show that 1% of half marathon runners like the 13.1 distance being called a mini-marathon.  One percent 1% said that it didn't really matter.  Approximately 4% said it didn't really matter, as long as the 13.1mi distance was CLEARLY identified in the title aside the name mini-marathon.  Fifty Four 54% of the half marathon running community identified that they prefer it just stay identified as a "half marathon" and 38% of the half marathon running community identified that they STRONGLY prefer it remain identified as a "half marathon" AND do not like Mini-Marathon at all.

The results overwhelmingly show the the feelings of runners across the US a clear dislike for the 13.1 mile distance "half marathon" being called a mini-marathon.  When it all comes down to it, I don't think it really matters too much, but from a business perspective, I'd probably side with going with the opinions of your target market, as 92% is an overwhelming percent that feels the distance should remain identified as a "half marathon." Just a food for thought for Half Marathon Race Organizers, as they ponder a new name of their event. 

Poll taken by Halfmarathonclub.com staff

Sunday, November 6, 2011

RUNNERS' PERSPECTIVE - Number ONE reason Half Marathon Runners PAY to Run in an Organized Event- 2011 Poll Results

November 6th 2011   -  By Nicole Blomgren - MBA, USAT, USATF member
Founder & President of Fifty States HALF Marathon Club and HalfmarathonSearch.com

The 2011 poll results are in Half Marathon Race Directors.  We decided to conduct a Poll to half marathon runners “What is the NUMBER ONE reason you PAY to run a half marathon?” The reason for the curiosity was encouraged due to a few recent very under-supported races quite a few members of our Fifty States HALF Marathon Club had experienced.  Some of these races were run with lack of water (one water stop aside from the finish line), lack of sports drink (none for some races), or lack of transportation back to parking at the end for all runners, and more.  The surprising factor was these races still charged a full somewhat pricey registration fee! We decided to see how many runners voted that the number one reason they choose to PAY for a race is for the water and sports drink support along the course, since this is the number one complaint we hear as an organization.

The results of the poll indicate that 54 percent of half marathon runners’ NUMBER ONE reason they PAY the fee for an official half marathon is because “running with others motivate” them.  Many comments were made as a follow up to this answer indicating many runners use the races as a gauge for their own performance improvement as well, in conjunction with the motivation of running with others.

The second most voted NUMBER ONE reason a runner PAYS to run a half marathon is for the water and endurance drink support.  The poll results indicated 18 percent of half marathon runners PAY for a half marathon specifically for the water and endurance drink support as their top reason they would pay to run an event.  Race directors, guess what, …... yes this beat out your great medal you give at the end of the race.  Most runners do not want to run with a water belt, hence the reason they specifically pay a fee to run in an organized event when it starts to get into the longer distances such as the half marathon or longer.

Next up was the medal.  Fifteen percent of half marathon runners’ NUMBER ONE reason they PAY the fee for an official half marathon is to receive a medal at the end.  The medal actually came in higher than Tshirts & Swag!

Lastly, 11 percent of half marathon runners’ NUMBER ONE reason they PAY to run an official half marathon race is for the swag, T-shirt, totes, hats, etc.

The conclusion is to recognize that runners are never going to complain that they ran with too few or too many runners.  Runners are going to complain about a poor experience when a race is under-supported with water and/or sports drink and wonder what their registration fee went to providing.  The results are apparent that having sufficient amount of water stops and sports drink (or at minimum water along the course) is a very important item a race should provide for the fee the runners pay. Our feedback from the Poll is really only intended to bring awareness to Race Directors, to understand what really matters to runners.  There are so many half marathon events that are absolutely awesome, well run, well supported and have already done their homework in this department.  I personally have been to organized events on both ends of this spectrum, from the most well run race, to running a race with one water stop and having no transportation back to the start at the end of the race, not exactly my idea of a well spent $80 for a runner.  I hope our poll and results provide an insightful perspective and encourage event organizers to really focus on water stops as a top priority when it comes to planning.  Thank you and happy running!

© copyright 2010 Nicole Blomgren & Fifty States Half Marathon Club



November 7th 2010

As new Marathons, Half Marathons, Triathlons and many other events continue to pop up all over like a spreading fire, the importance of knowing your audience is key. As Founder and President of Fifty States HALF Marathon club and being a key contributor to endurance runners and Half Marathon race calendars on the web, I myself couldn’t be more frustrated with an event website when I land on the webpage and can’t even find the city and state on the homepage of the event. Sometimes even the date of the event is missing from the homepage and you have to dig for it buried in other sub-pages.

Race organizers and Race Directors creating a website sometimes seem to create their website catering to believing that most participants are local and already know where the race is. The growing popularity of the traveling athlete, desire to travel to various states or countries to participate in events, makes information on the event website valuable to attain market share to the traveling athlete.



1) City & State (You’d be surprised how many event sites do not have this. Very frustrating for non-local participants and maintaining national race calendar sites)

2) Date of event (believe it or not there are a lot of sites that do not have this on their home page and participants have to dig for it)

3) The DAY of the event is also very helpful (ie: Saturday or Sunday).

4) ALL Race distances (Marathon, half marathon, 5k, etc) listed on “home page”, not buried in other links to figure out if there are various other distances in addition to the main event distance.


Most participants that are not local have to do a lot of extra work to find the location because event organizers do not put the address of the event location anywhere in the website. Participants like to use online maps or utilize GPS in their car or rental car when traveling, to locate the event, so I can’t emphasize enough how important a “full address” is of the event location.

6) And finally, having a “race date” planned well in advance, ideally one year ahead. Many traveling athletes plan their race calendar one year in advance. The sooner you have the date published on your website, the sooner it is updated on sites like our Fifty States HALF Marathon Race Calender , and the sooner athletes can add that race to their race calendar for their travel plans. We start looking for new race dates a year in advance when updating our website.


In addition to the “must haves,” social media and various websites definitely follow as “nice to haves” on an event website. Connecting with the running community, triathlon community, and other athletic event communities on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc. (where participants can read about feedback about the course, connect with others about their experience of the event in past years, and join the community of others who will be participating in the upcoming event and share the excitement of the anticipation), and partnering with Race Calendar (advertising your event where the community looks for the best race to attend), can all go a long way in increasing participants and giving visibility to your event.


For smaller local community events who do not keep an all year round web page for the specific event, like some of the YMCA’s, YWCA’s or events just starting out, this ALL can be accomplished at NO COST or very little cost. Race Organizers can create a one page Blog in Google Blogger to appear almost exactly like a website (kind of like our official blog http://halfmarathonclub.blogspot.com/ but “without the ongoing content added”, and leave this posted with all the above mentioned “must have” checklist” posted on the BLOG. This is FREE, and at least gives your event its own identity and a place for the public to look for the details of the event. You can then share your blog link via facebook or twitter, and with race calendar sites like ours. This can be a valuable tool to at least avoid your participants having to click on an expired Active event listing from previous years, with no event site to go to for future details. Another very inexpensive means for an ongoing event site is Yahoo business. It is inexpensive and you can create your own website within an hour with their easy to use templates, walking you through step by step how to set up your website, allowing your event to have its own domain you choose.
In summary, the number of events popping up will continue to grow and the market will remain competitive. Even though the trends show there is no shortage of participants in the ever-growing events such as marathons, half marathons, or triathlons, it is still important to be aware of the “user experience” you are providing your participants, starting from the very first step of when that individual visits your website and decides if it is an event they would like to add to their calendar for the year.

© copyright 2010 Nicole Blomgren & Fifty States Half Marathon Club LLC