Don’t pass up branding opportunities at your next 5k run/walk event.

A growing trend in marketing is hosting and sponsoring a sporting event to gain brand exposure. If this is your first-time hosting or sponsoring a race event, perhaps a 5K is the place to start. More people than ever are challenging themselves in running races for fitness and fun. It’s a valuable demographic to reach: Mid-thirties, college educated, men and women who engage with your brand whether sampling your products or seeing your logo on a race shirt, hats, signs, etc. It’s a great way to get brand exposure with welcome giveaways and support.

Race Organization and Development.

Timing the Event is a large part of your budget, so getting the right one for your needs is important. Pick a timer with good experience and decent technology. Send out a bid request to several timers in your area and include: pricing, read rates on the chips, and references.

The location where the race will be held is determined by locating an area where a good portion of your prospective runners live. Create a Race Course that is engaging and unique experience, such as gradual down hills, challenging up hills or flat, with scenery and landmarks. A flat course with little to no uphill climbs usually draws more participants.

Select a Race Name that represents its personality and experience. “The 10K Milwaukee Madness” feels different in intensity, then “The 5K Toledo Bunny Hop.” Races are traditionally named by the town/city, length, course or a theme.

Design a Website to provide race and registration information, such as: pricing, deadlines, course maps, hotels, race date/time, etc. Contact a web savvy friend, hire a web developer, or use a free site such as

Online Registration increases if it is a simplified online process. Choose an online provider utilizing easy checkout, and that doesn’t require accounts for runners. For cost, compare top race registration providers’ rates and benefits.

Open Race Registration early for greater participation. The more people that sign up early, the more they spread the word and refer others to sign up. Annual events open registration for next year’s event immediately after this year’s event ends.

Advertising the Race focuses on your Target Audience: Runners. Include: race name, date, time, location, registration site, as well as entertainment, food, giveaways, etc.

Advertising could include: Posters to put in running/athletic stores, ads in running magazines and websites, in local papers, on the radio or cable, and even at other races (your flier in runner’s race bag).

Sponsorship involves contacting local business to provide products or services (e.g., coupons for gear, free food samples, etc. for race bag.) or even contribute money for sponsorship. Permits are secured from local government. You will need to provide insurance coverage to receive a permit. Coverage will protect your company and those responsible for event.

Racer Support and Appreciation

Race Bags are given to every registered runner. It’s a great opportunity to get brand activated products/services into the hands of every runner.

Inside each could be:

  • A Race Shirt (see below)
  • Custom runner’s bib, safety pins to put on the runner’s bib that holds the time chip, (unless another technology is being used).
  • Product samples, e.g., protein gels, health bars, sun block, etc.,
  • Coupons for services, e.g., car wash, trainers, dentists or from any other business.

Enticing products include:

Race Shirts are given to every runner. It’s usually a dry fit = shirt with the race name/logo on front and sponsor logos on the back. Order shirts a couple weeks before the race, with a follow-up order a couple days before the race for late registrations.

Aid Stations and Hydration provide plenty of water and electrolyte beverages to runners. Consider the weather conditions in your area and the length of the race to determine how many stations. Avid Food high in protein should be available in the finish area. Often you can find a local market or restaurant to provide food for your race as a sponsor.

Medals are given to participants when they cross the finishing line for longer races or for youth programs. Medals can also be used as placement awards (see below). In your first year, you may want to make your medals locally so you can order closer to the race date.

Awards are given for best times by age division, first to third or even fifth places. Some races award money, others provide sponsored gift certificates or medals.

Featured Products

Crowd, Course and Clean-up Logistics

Portable Restrooms need to be available to accommodate runners with one located at the beginning of the race at minimum, and at the finish if possible.

Volunteers can be found at: student volunteer organizations, businesses, scout troops, youth organizations and other race volunteer lists to name a few. As appreciation for their service volunteers receive a “volunteer” T-shirt that’s different than the racers shirts.

Event Safety coordination involves the police and security for the race, ensuring that you have proper traffic safety devices like cones, and crowd control barricades.

Medical Considerations for 5K’s runners usually don’t need much attention, but longer races can require more needs. Consult a sports medicine professional to determine the specific needs your event.

Course Clean Up requires a fresh crew of people specifically dedicated to the task. People working the race all day will be too exhausted.