In its third year, the 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon has become a must-do event for runners from across Australia and a growing number of participants from around the globe. Atlas Multisports manages this world-class running festival, which raises funds for the Ronald McDonald House of South East Queensland. 7SCM attracts thousands of runners of all ages and abilities to its marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k and 2k. Atlas Multisports is striving to grow their event by attracting more participants from outside of Queensland, so they can give even more back to the local community.
Organisers were faced with the challenge of improving the event each year to ensure the marathon became a ‘must do’ in the event calendar, with participants coming back each year. The next frontier: attracting international participants to the beautiful Sunshine Coast while driving economic benefits to the local community.
Atlas Multisports started working with ACTIVE in 2011. Since then, they have succeeded in attracting 1,000 new participants to their event each year.
We recently spoke with Jason Crowther, Managing Director of Atlas Multisports, about the experience
Q: How do you ensure that participants get the best experience possible?
A: I think the major ethos with an event is that you can’t let anything slip and that’s where it becomes hard. Every year, you have to make every single part of your event better, whether it’s the volunteers, the course, the medals, the merchandise— everything has to get better. You have to keep reinventing the wheel. You can’t just do what we did last year because there are so many events in the calendar now; participants will choose another event. We have to keep making sure we make our events better and better.
We did a post-race survey and we had about 1600 people doing the survey. The number one reason people participate in the marathon is for the personal challenge. The next big reason is the experience. We have to make sure they have a good time and that they put us in the calendar for next year.
Q: How have you been able to grow your participation numbers? Are you hoping to attract more competitors from overseas?
A: I think the longer distance events are seeing a resurgence. Obviously, you need to run a really good event. If you run a good event and you have a “label,” you are going to attract numbers.
Our next focus is international participation. A lot of marketing dollars are spent attracting overseas athletes, but that’s where there is a real return for the local economy. ACTIVE’s database has helped us get exposure to those international competitors.
We have more international entries this year. A lot of them are from New Zealand. The only advertising we use is the ACTIVE database, social media, and running magazines. Those are the marketing streams that can be related to getting New Zealand athletes on the starting line.
Q: Have you seen direct results from using ACTIVE’s database?
A: Once the ACTIVE emails go out, we do see international competitors registering after those EDMs go out. Especially for the New Zealand competitors—we have seen a big increase from New Zealand this year.
Q: What benefits do you see from partnering with ACTIVE?
A: The sheer scale that ACTIVE has within the marathon world—being able to share those databases that ACTIVE has on the marketing side is excellent. Being associated with the biggest and most reliable online registration is paramount to us.
No one on my team is really tech savvy; we are not programmers. ACTIVE took our old registrations system and rebuilt a new one on ACTIVE Works Endurance. That’s been seamless. If we do have a problem, we can call and it’s fixed straight away.
Q: How has ACTIVE Works helped you improve the online registration process?
A: It’s just seamless. We don’t want registration to be too difficult for participants. We found that ACTIVE Works has a seamless and secure system.
Q: Overall, how would you describe your experience with ACTIVE?
A: It’s been amazing. I won’t be leaving ACTIVE anytime soon. It’s secure; we’ve never had a security problem. The marketing we get out of ACTIVE’s databases is excellent. Obviously, ACTIVE is always trying to get better and that’s important to me.