I do not notice any increase in people entering our store, or in sales immediately around FL XC championships - but its a little tough to tell since the holidays are approaching. I'm in college and have been working at FL since junior year in HS part-time. I'll be there this afternoon! Anyhow - I don't think FL gets real advertising return on this XC investment. We sell a good deal of running shoes, but mostly to people over 30 years old or really young kids. Maybe sponsoring this race helps bring these types in the store as well, but I doubt most of them even know that the race exists. I know that most of the fast HS and post-college runners in our area go to a couple local running specialty shops for their shoes, or just order online.
FL seems to make most of their money selling overpriced branded t-shirts, baseball hats, basketball shorts, and basketball shoes. I have fun working there, but I would not be surprised to see FL fold-up shop in a few years, in which case they will stop sponsoring the race. If so, this will all be a moot point, as we will only have NXN unless another company chooses to pick-up the sponsorship after FL.