NEW YORK — When a pro runner changes shoe brands, it might merit a footnote on the message boards or Twitter feeds. But when it’s one of the world’s premier running organizations making the switch, it’s big news indeed.
Following on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that ASICS was ending its 25-year association with the TCS New York City Marathon, officials of the New York Road Runners—organizers of the NYC Marathon as well as dozens of smaller events throughout the year—announced that they’ll be partnering with New Balance for the next decade.
The deal, rumored to be worth $150-$170 million, is for more than just being the official shoe and apparel partner of the marathon, which goes into effect in 2017 when the ASICS deal expires. Beginning next year, New Balance, which provided shoes and apparel for NYRR’s Airbnb Brooklyn Half in 2015, will also become the title sponsor of the Bronx 10 Mile and the Fifth Avenue Mile, which coincidentally has been won four times by the company’s marquee runner, Jenny Simpson.
The following year, in addition to the marathon, New Balance expands its role year-round, sponsoring the NYRR Five Borough Series, Heritage Races (Mini 10K and Midnight Run) as well as the organization’s smaller weekly races. New Balance will produce all race shirts for runners throughout the year as well as manage NYRR’s e-commerce platform.
Perhaps the most concrete manifestation of the partnership will be the opening in mid-2016 of the NYRR running center near Columbus Circle, at the southwest corner of Central Park. Similar to the Boston Athletic Association/adidas Runbase in Boston, the center will provide number pickup for NYRR races, lockers for runners wishing to run in the park, and a New Balance retail section. As part of that agreement, for every New Balance shoe sold there, the company will donate a pair to New York City youngsters in need.
“When we were meeting with prospective partners back in the spring we had several criteria and ideas in mind,” said Michael Capiraso, President and CEO of NYRR. “New Balance said yes to all of them, so we thought we had a good match.”
“It’s kind of like being engaged,” said Capiraso’s NYRR partner, Peter Ciaccia, President of Events and NYC Marathon race director. “Sometimes you get second thoughts from time to time, but with New Balance we knew it was perfect right from the start.”
Ciaccia went on to say that the success of the Brooklyn Half, especially the pre-race party, showed NYRR that New Balance brought a unique energy to the partnership that merited an expanded role.
The agreement marks New Balance’s first sponsorship of a major marathon since 2007, when the company last sponsored the Chicago Marathon. It currently provides apparel for all of the Run Disney events. But the New York City Marathon, the largest marathon in the world an average of more than 50,000 finishers the past three years, is clearly a crown jewel for the Boston-based company.
“Certainly sponsoring the marathon is important and prestigious, but we wanted to do more than that,” said Tom Carleo, New Balance running division president. “Being able to work with the Road Runners year round, and with their youth programs especially, makes this an even better partnership for both of us.”
While the marathon is its most visible event, NYRR has made an increasing commitment in the past decade to serving the year-round needs of runners of all ages and abilities, reflected in their corporate motto “Run For Life.” Always an innovator, NYRR is once again at the forefront with a long-term agreement with a legacy American shoemaker that figures to elevate the level of the sport throughout the city.