NEW YORK, November 28, 2013 — Announcements of new title sponsorships for running and triathlon races all over the U.S. have been lighting up running news all year long. Now Michelob ULTRA wants a bigger piece of 13.1-miles.
Longtime running patron and Dutch bank ING earlier this year announced it was pulling all its race sponsorships, including the Hartford Marathon, Miami Marathon and New York City Marathon. The New York City Marathon in October announced Tata Consultancy Services, an Indian technology company that has been a consultant for the race since 2010, as the new title sponsor in an eight-year deal. The Philadelphia Marathon got its first title sponsor in 2013 with Gore-Tex, as did the Ironman World Championship, which is now headlined by GoPro. ASICS took over the L.A. Marathon earlier this year and New York Road Runners (a company I freelance for as host of “On The Run”) is the new title sponsor of the Millrose Games, a prestigious indoor track event in New York City.
But now, a new kind of company is getting into the title sponsorship running race. Michelob ULTRA will be the new title sponsor for the 13.1 Marathon Series of seven half-marathons around the U.S., organized by US Road Sports & Entertainment Group.
“Joining forces with the 13.1 Marathon Series is a great opportunity for us to continue supporting the running industry and the athletes that dedicate themselves to the challenge of competing in a half marathon,” said Michelob ULTRA vice president Lori Shambro.
Launched in 2002, Michelob ULTRA is a low-carb, low-calorie beer that owner Anheuser-Busch has marketed to runners, cyclists, golfers and other active adults. Its “Race to the ULTRA” campaign, started in 2004, brings the brand to 80 events nationwide every year. Michelob ULTRA is also the official beer of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.
As the new title sponsor of the 13.1 Marathon Series, which debuted in 2010, the beer may be hoping for an even larger market share. Anheuser-Busch already sells to retailers 47.6 percent of all beer in the U.S.
While running and drinking may not seem like an obvious fit, the two have a long history of running hand-in-hand. The Hash House Harriers, an international “drinking club with a running problem” with some 2,000 clubs in 185 countries, dates back to 1938.
Wine runs have proliferated too, with races themed around the alcoholic beverage taking place everywhere from Bordeaux in France to Marlborough in New Zealand and Napa in California to Walt Disney World in Florida.
The Michelob ULTRA 13.1 Marathon Series has races in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach and New York City, with an event in Los Angeles in the works. In addition to naming rights and a race-day presence, Michelob ULTRA will give runners, 21 and older, a beer at the finish, provided state law allows it.
Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ show about running. Her work has been seen in Newsweek, RunnersWorld.com, Active.com, ABC-TV in New York and over two dozen other outlets. She has finished seven marathons and four triathlons. Follow Karla at RunKarlaRun.com.
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