Marathons generate billions for companies, businesses

CCTV News

Marathons generate billions for companies, businesses

It used to be a curious hobby for fitness fanatics signing up for long distance races. Now, it’s a nationwide craze in the United States.

Nearly 600,000 runners finished a marathon in 2015, up from just 25,000 in 1976. And as CCTV America’s Roza Kazan reports, the corporate world is catching up.

Marathons generate billions for companies, businesses

Marathons generate billions for companies, businesses

It used to be a curious hobby for fitness fanatics signing up for long distance races. Now, it's a nationwide craze in the United States. Nearly 600,000 runners finished a marathon in 2015, up from just 25,000 in 1976. And as CCTV America's Roza Kazan reports, the corporate world is catching up.

Road racing has gone mainstream. More than 30,000 running events last year, 17 million people, and big business getting in on the action.

Marathons have always brought big money to host cities like Chicago. Last year, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon generated $277 million to the local economy.

Organized road racing is estimated to be a nearly $1.5 billion and growing industry in the U.S.

And that, said director of strategy at this sport marketing firm in Chicago, is attracting sponsors beyond traditional advertisers like makers of running shoes and energy drinks.

The sport is looking more corporate than ever. Last year, China’s Dalian Wanda Group bought the Iron Man series of triathlons for $650 million. A private equity group bought the organizer of the Rock ‘n’ Roll road running series for $250 million in 2012.

Usually household decision makers, and more than 70 percent college educated, experts said they’re likely to stay loyal to the brand, introduced at an emotional time of high personal achievement.