By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
October 4, 2013
ST. PAUL — Twin Cities in Motion, the running and fitness not-for-profit which owns and operates the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and other events, reaffirmed their support for elite athletes here today, two days in advance of hosting the USA marathon and masters marathon championships on Sunday.
“We have four pillars in our mission and the sport is one of those pillars,” explained executive director Virginia Brophy Achman in an interview with Race Results Weekly. “We’ve had a long-standing position since the 80’s when we began supporting post-collegiate athletes.”
Brophy Achman estimated her organization’s annual spending on elite athletes to be about $300,000, not quite 10% of the organization’s overall budget. Most of that money is spent on elite athlete prize money, travel and housing support for their own events, but some is used to support directly an elite middle and long distance running club based here, Team USA Minnesota, coached by Dennis Barker (the club also receives support from New York Road Runners and other sponsors). She said that supporting athlete development was an important part of what event organizers should be doing, saying that such funds “were very well invested.”
“I think we also play a part in the developmental niche, if you will. We have a lot of up-and-comers in our own backyard. We just really feel that it’s important to give back to the sport.” She continued: “It trickles down, right? If you have great role models and great athletes for the kids to aspire to, it gives them a reason to get out and run, too. I just think it’s the right thing to do.”
Meghan Peyton, who won the national 20-K title in New Haven, Conn., last month, lives in nearby Richfield, is part of Team USA Minnesota, and will be running Sunday’s marathon and hopes to win it. The Saucony-sponsored athlete said that Twin Cities In Motion’s financial embrace of her club has been extremely important to her success.
“Twin Cities in Motion really provides tremendous support for Team USA Minnesota,” Peyton said speaking exclusively with Race Results Weekly. She continued: “I depend on the team day-in and day-out. Having Twin Cities in Motion there to support our team really means a lot to us.”
This weekend’s event is Twin Cities in Motion’s biggest of the year, including 5-K and 10-K runs on Saturday (walkers are welcome in the 5-K), then the Medtronic TC 10 Mile and Marathon on Sunday. Organizers said here today that some 28,000 participants are registered across all events, including 12,000 in the marathon. The marathon has a total prize money purse of $145,000, and the male and female winners will each receive $25,000 and the distinction of winning the national marathon titles. Only the winners of the marathons in Boston, Chicago, Houston and New York will receive bigger marathon winner’s checks in the United States this year.
“We’re very fortunate to have a board of directors who feels as strongly as I do and the staff does,” Brophy Achman said of how she is able to maintain support for elite athletes. “It’s a big puzzle, and it’s one piece of it, and it’s a really important piece.”
Brophy Achman doesn’t see a conflict between supporting top athletes while encouraging ordinary adults and children to become active and pursue their own fitness goals. Indeed, the organization raises $750,000 annually for “youth, wellness, charities and the sport of running,” according to the organization’s website.
“It’s so important for kids to have positive role models,” Brophy Achman intoned. “Running role models are the best. Our sport is a good opportunity for kids; it’s accessible to all kids. So, why not give them that athlete to look up to?”
Nick Arciniaga, a 2:11 marathoner who lives in Flagstaff, Ariz., said that Twin Cities in Motion’s support for Sunday’s race was very important to him, and provided an additional incentive for him to give back to the sport, too.
“A lot of the elite athletes I know are very involved with their communities,” he said at a press conference here today. “It matters a lot to me. It has a trickle-down effect.”