February 13, 2013
USA Track and Field (USATF) announced today in New York that it is getting into the road-racing business.
Staring this year, USATF will own and operate the season ending road-race to the USA Running Circuit (USARC). The race will be a 12k*, will be named the .US National Road Racing Championships, will have $100,000 in prize money (with $20,000 to the winners according to Jim Gerweck), will be a mass participation event. USATF does not know where or when the event will take place.
The event is possible because of a three year sponsorship agreement between USATF and Neustar, the administrator of the .US domain (you can have a letsrun.us domain). USATF says its “biggest single-event sponsorship in more than a decade.”
The full press release is below. A few thoughts:
The Good: 1) USATF owns a road-race.
One of the problems track faces is the governing bodies – whether the IAAF internationally or USATF in the US – have little real power as they don’t control the events. Most events are locally owned. As people like Toni Reavis have said, the only hope for track to somehow make it big-time is if the “local control of events” somehow ceased or is at least greatly reduced so there can be a mandated season. As it stands now, the entire indoor season is like watching pre-season football – you have no idea what’s really going to happen as people may or may not show up as no one is in charge.
(editor’s note: Some at LRC are not nearly convinced USATF owning a race is a good idea. There are other ways to get athletes to participate without ownership, see the PGA tour for example. Having a governing body asserting some leadership is good).
2) USATF and new CEO Max Siegel brought a new sponsor into the fold.
3) A group that cares about pro (Olympic level) competition is getting involved in road racing.
4) $100,000 more in prize money will go to USA distance runners this year.
More Thoughts/TBD: 1) How do you have a road-race without a date or location? Perhaps the idea is to get cities to bid for the event. If Neustar and USATF are going to cover all the prize money, then it probably won’t be hard to get a few bidders.
2) $100,000 may sound like a lot of prize money, but in the world of sports it’s nothing. In running it’s something, but not ground breaking. The US Half-Marathon Champs have $77,500 in prize money and the US Marathon champs $145,000. And neither of those events gets to make themselves the final event in the USARC or give themselves triple points in the USARC. (For a point of reference in the larger world of sports, the smallest event on the Web.com tour (2nd tier golf), the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, has $550,000 in prize money.)
3) The potential exists to make the USARC much bigger than it is with a season ending event that means something (ie like NASCAR where Max Siegel comes from).
4) What will current races that partner with USATF think of USATF now owning a race? Will the current model continue to exist or will USATF eventually try and fully own the series?
5) TV/TV/TV. Every sporting event in the world that is successful has TV coverage in today’s media landscape. We’re a long way from getting that with this, but don’t forget the big picture. Badminton and ping-pong and anything else (letsrun.com for that matter) you don’t care about can be on the internet. The distinction between tv/internet still matters big time.
*Why 12k? For one reason, there already exists a US 10k Championship at the Peachtree Road Race.
USATF Press Release below:
USATF launches .US National Road Racing Championships
NEW YORK – In its biggest single-event sponsorship in more than a decade, USA Track & Field on Wednesday announced that it will launch the .US National Road Racing Championships in the fall of 2013. The announcement marks the beginning of a three-year partnership between USATF and Neustar, the administrator of the .US top-level domain, to initiate and grow a national-championship, mass-participation road race.
The 12-kilometer (12 km) event will be a season-capping race to the USA Running Circuit (USARC), a series of races that annually provides nearly $1 million in prize money to American runners. The .US National Road Racing Championships alone will provide a combined $100,000 prize purse for men and women.
The .US domain name is the official country code for the United States. Neustar, an information and analytics company based in Northern Virginia, offers over a decade of experience providing domain name registry services and critical infrastructure services and policy expertise for .US on behalf of the United States Department of Commerce.
“The .US brand is a perfect fit with USA Track & Field,” said USATF CEO Max Siegel. “We have been impressed by the organization’s commitment to our sport and, especially, this race. They are eager to engage all segments of the long-distance running community, from lifestyle runners to our elite athletes. We thank them for their support and for helping us launch this exciting new event.”
“As the administrator of .US, Neustar is proud to support the .US National Road Racing Championships,” said Alex Berry, senior vice president of Enterprise Services at Neustar. “With this partnership, we envision all national enthusiasts, such as USATF members, running clubs, elite athletes, and the running community having their own .US website. Runners can track and share their training routines, race times, upcoming races, network and more with .US – America’s top level domain.”
The .US National Road Racing Championships mark USATF’s first wholly owned-and-operated road race and will be overseen by USATF. The race will crown national road racing champions, but will also embrace non-competitive fitness devotees to share in the excitement of a truly national running event.
“Of the 14 million road racing finishers annually in this country, the vast majority are running for something other than prize money or Olympic medals,” Siegel said. “This race is their race, and USATF is their organization. With the support of Neustar, we will be able to reach out to a full cross-section of runners like never before.”
“This is a very exciting day for professional runners and weekend warriors alike,” said Deena Kastor, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon and a two-time USARC overall standings champion. “Having partners with a broad vision like Neustar is so important for the vast community of runners in the United States, and I look forward to a long legacy of success for this race.”
The .US National Road Racing Championships will include an event website, beginners’ training program, community outreach and a national webcast.
Race date, location and course will be announced in coming weeks. The .US National Road Racing Championships will be the overall road running championship race, and place-finish points will count triple toward USARC standings.
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world’s oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the country’s #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States. For more information onUSATF, visit www.usatf.org.
.US is the country code domain name for the United States of America. .US is managed and operated by Neustar, Inc. (NYSE:NSR), an information services company, on behalf of the United States Department of Commerce. Neustar operates the .US global registry in the public interest and provides critical infrastructure services. Visit www.about.us for more information on .US, and visit www.neustar.biz for more information on Neustar.