Running. It’s a solitary activity. A sport for one. And yet, many running groups exist in communities around the globe. Some of these runners gather together just for the joy of being outdoors and for the chance to run together. Still others run for a cause. While some lone runners, like Mina Guli, run multiple marathons-for-a-cause, many more people are banding together in communities to run for a charitable purpose. So just how do these runners-for-a-cause garner awareness simply by strapping on a pair of running shoes? Read on to find out.
Using the Media
Most businesses know the power of garnering free media coverage. It’s a way to raise awareness for their business via a local news story. The same can be said for certain classes of runners as an article in The Star points out. A group of Olympic-level Canadian athletes drew attention to their cause by holding a series of six-minute walks around Canada.
These athletes, which included Andre De Grasse, met with the media to talk about raising awareness for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF.) The runners and walkers were able to get the media involved, in part, due to their Olympic/ World Champion status. They were also smart in that they planned on holding the walks all around Canada, which allowed more people to become involved with their cause. For them, it was a logical way to connect with their community and to spend their off-season doing something worthwhile.
Sometimes, runners take a cue from the marketing world by creating a large running event and then inviting local businesses to participate in the event. For example, there is a fitness run each year in Boise, Idaho in September called FitOne. There’s an expo dedicated to fitness and health that goes alongside it. Participants might meet up with local healthcare professionals like athletic trainers who specialize in star sprint training, wellness professionals, or even with non-traditional coaches.
The beauty of events like this is that the runners usually run on a team. While many do it as a way to enjoy some time outside with friends, still others put together teams to raise awareness for some worthy cause like epilepsy. By piggybacking their efforts onto a bigger event, they gain awareness for their cause that they wouldn’t otherwise have. They also don’t have to stretch their marketing budget very far because the collective money spent on these large events allows their own money to go further.
Additionally, most of these events have T-shirts and other printed materials with the sponsors’ names on it. The shirts are typically free to participants. However, there’s a method to this madness. On the day of the event and for sometimes years after, the people who participated will wear the T-shirt or use the complimentary water bottle that came with it and by doing so, continue to advertise the original cause or charity event.
Partnering With Government and Municipalities
Many times, runners-for-a-cause will get a big boost from local, national, and international governments and communities. For example, the European Commission held several running events in 2017 to raise awareness for climate change. These events usually coincide with bigger holidays or events like Europe Day.
Events like this allow public officials to acknowledge public health or safety concerns in a very concrete and public way. In cases such as these, the runners-for-a-cause start at the top and trickle down. In other words, it’s the government or municipal officials who organize the run and then other like-minded enthusiasts join in. And by holding these events on important holidays, it’s easier to raise awareness for the run in the community because people are already looking for something to do to celebrate the big day.
Charity running events can be a way for communities to raise awareness (and sometimes money) for causes like food scarcity, for diseases like diabetes, or for victims of natural disasters like floods or earthquakes. However, no run, however well-intentioned, will garner any support if these communities don’t also create a buzz around the running event. To raise awareness, communities of runners will hold press conferences, piggyback on bigger events, or rely on state and local governments to help advertise their cause. Truly, advertising and marketing these events is key, despite most of them being charity events. The communities of runners who can embrace this mindset are the ones who hold successful events that raise awareness for their favorite causes.