Running & Cycling: Delivering Value to Brands in Unpredictable Times.

By Posted in - Cycling & Running & Sponsorship on June 4th, 2020

As I write this, I would be remiss if I didn’t stop and continue to reflect on the chaos that has been taking place over the last few days and the injustice over the last several centuries. Together, as true brothers and sisters, we can put a stop to this misery. There is no place in our world for any type of racism, hate, bigotry, and senseless violence. I challenge every one of us to do our part and do what is right so we can co-exist in a world about which we are proud.

I have been asked quite a lot (and I have asked of others), how are things going? What are your properties accomplishing during this time?

Running and Cycling are probably the two lifestyle activities that generate the most amount of dollars for charities in Canada. Canceling a single run can have devastating effects on a not-for-profit: who depends on this level of engagement to generate much-needed dollars. Over 200 charities alone benefit from the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon to the tune of millions of dollars each year from the one single race day. Events like the the Under Armour Spring Run Off and Under Armour Eastside will continue virtually to generate the dollars and engagement for runners, charities and the industry as we make our way through and past this period.

Unfortunately, at this time, running in large groups is not considered safe but the incredible team at Canada Running Series have worked tirelessly to provide value to the running community, their sponsors and charities through their virtual race offerings. 

First of all, the sponsors have been tremendous. Not one of them has backed out or down, understanding that the running community is a desired market and that the activity is an incredible tincture for mental health and well-being (a much-needed prescription during this time – and any time for that matter). I cannot say enough about our sponsors’ dedication to the community and to the property.

This move to virtual or digital has provided brands with new and interesting ways to reach runners in Canada through virtual race bags, This move to virtual or digital has provided brands with new and interesting ways to reach runners in Canada through virtual race bags, curb-side pick-ups, running webinars, bespoke spotify playlists, surprise & delights and so much more. There is nothing like a face-to-face experiential activation but at least we have been able to keep the conversation between brands and running moving forward.

Today actually happens to be Global Running Day. The day that was planned to come together to move across Canada. This intention, to run and move together, is as important as it has ever been.

While the community is encouraged to run, walk, or roll, runners are invited to reflect on what’s going in our world right now while you are moving. Running can be a meditative state and runners are also encouraged to use the kilometres they have pledged to ask themselves how we can do better as individuals and as a running community to combat hate, injustice and racism. 

In recent weeks, you’ve certainly noticed that cycling is booming across Canada this spring as more Canadians are staying active and moving around on bicycles. Bike shops are busier than ever, and more people are discovering this beautiful sport. Whether it be solo rides, exploring the city on bike paths and closed roads, racing and group riding virtually, or running errands, we are lucky to have our bikes and a collective opportunity to grow the sport in Canada.

Along with this boom, Cycling Canada has also upped their digital game. As the summer nears, Cycling Canada will continue to release new how-to videos, provide virtual race opportunities, challenges and contests and keep cyclists up-to-date with the latest news and information

Today also marks their first webinar called Cycling Chats Webinar Series presented by AFEX. This is a new monthly webinar series bringing together experts, athletes, coaches and cycling leaders from across Canada. The first episode will feature Curt Harnett, Leah Kirchmann, Michael Woods and Alex Stieda to discuss the evolution of road cycling. 

Cycling Canada has also created The Canadian Junior Virtual Race Series which was launched on May 24th on the RGT platform in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Cycling Association Performance Cycling Program. With the aim to keep Junior and U17 riders active and engaged, participants will get to race on courses across Canada every week and will be automatically entered to win a factory installed 4iiii Precision Power Meter.

The Cycling Canada Virtual Race Series presented by Argon 18 is coming to an end this Sunday, after four weeks of challenging rides all over the country. Participants who complete all four courses will be automatically entered to win an Argon 18 and Cycling Canada prize package.So, runners and cyclists remain engaged during this period of isolation and sponsors have come along for the ride (or run). Their importance remains high and our properties continue to look for and develop new ways to remain engaged with these very important demographics. Brands are challenged every day on how to further engage with their demo through sponsorship. These two properties continue to deliver value for their sponsors and community with an eye on more room to grow.