Austin's marathon will take on a yellow hue starting next year.
Livestrong, the Austin-based nonprofit founded by seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and dedicated to providing support for people living with cancer, announced on Tuesday a three-year title sponsorship of the Austin Marathon & Half Marathon.
Livestrong officials declined to put a dollar figure on the cost of the title sponsorship. But the nonprofit's contribution will include in-kind donations from corporate partners including Nike, said Doug Ulman, Livestrong president and CEO.
The cost for title sponsorship of a marathon depends on a race's size and prestige, but ranges from about $150,000 for the Seattle Marathon, which draws about 11,000 runners, to $2 million to $3 million for the New York City Marathon, which draws about 37,000 runners.
Ulman said the sponsorship would help build awareness in the fight against cancer.
Livestrong and the Austin Marathon share the goal of encouraging fitness and healthy lifestyles, and the collaboration between the two will add energy to the event, race director John Conley said. The event, which includes a 26.2-mile full marathon and 13.1-mile half marathon, will mark its 20th running on Feb. 20.
"Livestrong and the Austin Marathon are both in the business of changing peoples' lives," Conley said.
The sponsorship could bring a surge in participation in the race, which now ranks as the 23rd-largest marathon in the United States. To date, about 130,000 runners from 50 states and more than 40 countries have crossed the finish line.
"When people think of Austin, they think of UT and football, South by Southwest and Austin City Limits," Conley said. "We want them to think of the marathon in the same way."
In 2011, race organizers will cap entry at a combined 20,000 runners between the full and half marathon.
Registration is open at www.youraustinmarathon.com .
"From an awareness standpoint, this could be as big as the Livestrong Challenge," Ulman said, referring to the organization's signature event, a fundraising bike ride held in October that draws cyclists to Austin from all over the country. "It's an opportunity to reach 20,000 more people and their families and friends."
The marathon already serves as a fundraising engine for local and national charities through its 26 Miles for 26 Charities program, which draws athletes to run for pledges and volunteers to man 26 water stops along the race route.
Organizers said the race has generated more than $90 million for the Austin economy and $6 million for Austin nonprofits since it was first staged in 1992.
"This marathon is an Austin institution, and Livestrong is an Austin institution," Mayor Lee Leffingwell said at a news conference.
Does the new partnership mean that Lance Armstrong will run the Austin Marathon?
Organizers would love to think so, but that depends on whether the cyclist is still racing bikes.