Sponsored runs aren't just for elite runners, and finding a company to sponsor you can offer many advantages. You may not be able to earn a paycheck from a sponsorship, but some companies may pay your entry fees, provide fueling products, or even give you apparel to wear during the event.
Don't let the big company names fool you, there are many running vendors who are actively looking for runners to help them improve the visibility of their products. Finding a sponsor means that you need to find people to give you swag or money. This guide will show you our 5 top tips to do just that.
Tips for Finding Marathon Sponsors
Below are our best tips to find a marathon sponsorship:
Local Running Stores
Although it's true you'll need to be finishing in the top 2-to-3% of your age group to get a national level sponsor, that's not the case for local sponsorships.
To score a local sponsorship, it's generally helpful to be relatively competitive in your age group, but it's far more important to be active in your running community. Whether that means you belong to a local running club, or you're a familiar face at local events, if community members know you, a retailer may want to capitalize on your popularity.
Of course, being a regular customer at your local running store never hurts when you hit them up for a sponsorship.
Check with your local running store to see if they're interested in sponsoring you. They may be willing to provide you with a pair of running shoes or other apparel. They also have a wide variety of gear such as hats, sun glasses, hydration gear, safety vests, and lights they may want to provide you if you begin working together.
Some local running stores may even contact the manufacturers of running gear to help them offset the cost, and depending upon the circumstances, the manufacturer may be interested in sponsoring you directly for local events. This is true especially for smaller manufacturers.
If you're an active marathon runner it's a good idea to get in the practice of posting selfies on your social media. Take a photo of yourself in front of a banner or something else that identifies the race you're running.
Even if you're not currently sponsored, you'll be able to show your potential sponsor the coverage they'll be getting by supporting you. Let them know you'll tag them in every post and that they can share your posts on their social media too.
Check Product Websites
Many sponsorship opportunities are advertised on individual product websites or through their social media. Often you can sign-up for the companies newsletter where they'll keep you updated with specials, upcoming new products, and possibly sponsorship opportunities.
Although, keep in mind this method may be a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. If you don't want to pack your primary email with newsletters, you can always set-up an account specifically for this purpose.
Many employers offer sponsorship opportunities to their employees. They may be willing to help cover your training, entry fees, and maybe even some travel expenses.
Employers are often looking for ways to encourage their employees to be active. Some may pay based on specific criteria, such as miles run or the number of monthly active days. Or others may be willing to sponsor you outright and share your journey with their other employees as a way to inspire them to become more active.
Talking with employers is frequently an overlooked opportunity, and it's definitely worth checking out, especially since studies have shown that being active improves your productivity!
Although, not really a sponsorship, becoming a gear tester can not only save you some money, but also be a lot of fun. Many company's want to get feedback on their running apparel before they release it as a full fledged product to the general public.
Once you sign-up they'll send you something they're testing. You'll be expected to wear it a number of times and do a brief survey, then mail it back.
I once tested a running shirt for Nike. I wore it eight times, washing it between each wear, and answered 4 or 5 questions. Packed it up and returned it to Nike, where they inspected the garment to determine if it met their quality standards.
A friend of mine worked for Nike and was a marathon runner. She ran marathons all over the world. Nike provided her with shoes, sweats, shorts and shirts. She would wear them for the race and return them to Nike for inspection. She always had new gear and it was fun to see what Nike was working on.
These types of programs can be a lot of fun and provide valuable feedback to the manufacturer. Most manufacturers offer some sort of gear testing program, you can find the one from Nike here.