Growth of Maryland running events impacting profits

There is no shortage of running events in Maryland.

Triathlons, fun runs, marathons and 5ks are just some of the activities going on every weekend.

Such a high number of choices can sometimes leave a runner perplexed as to which event to participate in.

It can also cause longtime events to lose money.

In the last two years, the state has seen an uptick in running events throughout the state, making it hard for some organizations to make a profit.

Lee Corrigan knows that notion well.

As the president of Corrigan Sports, Lee Corrigan said work to diversify the Baltimore Running Festival is constantly evolving.

“One thing we do is send out a survey after every race,” Corrigan said. “That way we can figure out what is working and what needs to be changed.”

Growth is important to The Baltimore Running Festival, because competition is growing.
In the last two years, Baltimore City has received 120 permits for running festivals. There have been 54 in 2014 alone.

“This doesn’t count the number of parades that are also in the books,” said Caron Brace, spokesperson for Baltimore City Government.

That number, she added, didn’t reflect the running festivals that took place in the city’s parks.

Corrigan said understanding the importance of marketing and costs for an event is also key in drawing participants.

He added that’s where many of the new running events fail to attract a loyal following.

“On any given Saturday, there could be five races to choose from,” he said. “Question is, how effective is the event being run.”

Howard County Government spokesman Dave Nitkin said the county has 36 scheduled events left for the year, but saw a decline in a few events that used to draw big crowds.

“Just looking at the three big events, there has been a decline in the number of registrants of about a third,” Howard County Parks and Recreation Deputy Director John Marshall said.”

Marshall said the county canceled the Celebration Triathlon, usually held in June. Another event, the Columbia Triathlon almost closed, after organizers ran into money problems.

Participants of the Columbia Triathlon, which was held in May, were in limbo as to whether the event would occur. The Ullman Cancer Center eventually came in and took over the organizing.

As a result of the event being in limbo, participants of the Columbia Triathlon were granted an option of participating or taking part in the event the following year.

Even with the competition of more running festivals in Maryland, Corrigan isn’t worried about losing participants.

“As long as we are open to change, we will make each event better,” he said. “That will keep racers engaged.”

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