Head Start

Spotlight: Boulderthon

August 23, 2023 Race Directors HQ Episode 63
Head Start
Spotlight: Boulderthon
Show Notes

Nestled in a valley in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder, CO, is often referred to as the fitness capital of the US. So it was a bit surprising to Phil Dumontet, a young East Coast entrepreneur moving to Boulder in 2017 to launch his smoothie bar business, to realize that Boulder, in all its glorious outdoorsy-ness and obsession with fitness, lacked a first-rate city marathon.

For most people, that would have been just a passing thought. But not to Phil, who made giving Boulder the downtown marathon it deserves a personal passion project.

Fast forward a few years and a pandemic later, and Boulderthon, as the race got to be called, has grown into Colorado’s largest fall race series. And today, with Phil’s help, we’ll be tracing Boulderthon’s remarkable growth journey, looking at the decisions and tactics that got it to where it is today, including the deliberate effort that went into creating alliances with local businesses and the local community, the insistence on including a marketing component to all partnership agreements with sponsors and external stakeholders, and Phil’s unrelenting focus on tracking ROI across the entirety of the event’s marketing spend, from online campaigns and podcast ads to distributing flyers and working with running influencers. 

In this episode:

  • Identifying opportunities in an over-saturated running event market
  • Planning an inaugural event during the pandemic
  • The importance of sustainable growth: capping participant numbers to preserve event quality and race experience
  • Winning over the city, businesses and the local community 
  • Managing the disruption of bringing a marathon to Boulder's busy downtown
  • Race marketing 101: starting with the product and leaning into your race's unique strengths
  • Using runner feedback to hone your race experience and marketing message
  • "Be where your runners are": promoting your race online and offline
  • Using coupons and dedicated registration links to measure ROI in grassroots marketing
  • Laying out year-round marketing campaigns on a marketing calendar
  • Seeking out and structuring win-win partnerships with local businesses, from gyms to cocktail bars
  • Cross-marketing: the secret ingredient in cash and in-kind sponsorships
  • Advertising on running podcasts and partnering with running micro-influencers
  • Making the case for race announcers
  • Including man-hours in your marketing campaign ROI
  • Attracting volunteer groups with branded aid stations

Thanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.