To attract newcomers to the sport and encourage participation by the entire family, the producers of the BMW Dallas marathon are diversifying the portfolio with new races and event concepts
The Dallas Marathon is Texas’ oldest, founded in 1971. And like other major race organizations around the country, it sees fostering continued participation and adding new runners to its ranks as a priority.
We recently chatted with Paul Lambert, president of the BMW Dallas Marathon, about how his team is diversifying its portfolio with new races and event concepts meant to appeal to runners of all ages.
“For many, running seems like a daunting hobby to take on. At Dallas Marathon we are trying to do what we can to make running accessible for all through creative programming,” said Lambert.
“Whether that means starting them young with children’s races, having events like the Corporate 5K where people can participate with their friends in a low-stress environment or even helping individuals set a fitness goal for the end of the year with our BMW Dallas Marathon Weekend, we invite all to join us.”
Read to to learn about the various ideas implemented in Dallas to grow a new group of lifelong runners:
The BMW Dallas Marathon has really ramped up recently, with sponsors, celebrity guests and special events. What's on tap for 2018?
Lambert: 2018 is proving to be a very exciting year for us. We recently partnered with Trinity Groves and Andrews Distributing to host our first-ever Corporate 5K, benefitting United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. It was great to see the Dallas corporate community come together for such a worthy cause. Also, we’ll be hosting an all-new family inclusive 5-mile event for the 4th of July benefiting the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas and will be continuing our Marathon Weekend Series in December. With an increased focus on full-family participation at our events, you can expect to see a wide array of new activities for kids, parents…and even pets!
Have you been impacted by participation declines, and if so, what steps have you taken to keep your runner numbers up?
Lambert: In order to combat the general ebb and flow of race participants that is taking place across the industry, we have added diversified events to our portfolio. And as a result, have increased our overall participation numbers. In order to reach new audiences, we have expanded the types of races we offer, adding shorter distances, adjusting event times and focusing on expanding our family programming.
You're also introducing a Fourth of July race this year. How did you decide on a 5 miler and what are the goals for the inaugural event?
Lambert: We are excited to once again expand our program calendar and grow our presence in Dallas’ running community and to benefit the YMCA. We have worked with the city of Dallas to develop a really nice five mile course around the Uptown area and hope that the mid-range distance attracts both seasoned and new runners.
The morning will be filled with events for every member of the family, starting with a 5-mile run at 8 a.m. The 5-mile course starts and ends at Klyde Warren Park in Downtown Dallas and will wind through the classic Uptown and Turtle Creek neighborhoods. The main event will be followed by a 2-mile pet and family walk starting at 8:45 a.m. and a 5-mile family bike ride at 9:45 a.m. Following the family bike ride, there will be kid’s races of varying lengths, including 100m, 400m, and 800m. We hope to see whole families, pets included, participating together in what’s sure to be a memorable Independence Day experience.
Texas seems to have truly embraced its identity as a state where a lot of people run. How do you see that manifested in Dallas?
Lambert: It’s really incredible to see the running community grow over the past few years. Locals are starting to understand that the city of Dallas is a prime place for runners. From the events we host throughout the year, to the world-class running locations like the Katy Trail and White Rock Lake, people are putting on their sneakers and discovering all this city has to offer on foot.
With two new events on deck for the spring/summer, anything else up your sleeves for the fall?
Lambert: We will be bringing back our five BMW Social 5K Runs this fall in the weeks leading up to Marathon Weekend. Held in cities around the greater D-FW area, the races are great opportunities for us to connect with runners in surrounding communities.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Lambert: In addition to creating outstanding experiences for our guest, race proceeds for all of our events go towards organizations that enhance the lives of many in our community including the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, the United Way, the YMCA and the Dallas Independent School District.