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RunAustin campaign aims to lure runners to Austin

Pam LeBlanc

Editor’s note: This article was originally published August 14, 2013

When the world thinks of Austin, it thinks of music, technology, food and weirdness, right?

The company that puts on the Austin Marathon and other events wants to expand that collective idea of our city. That’s why it’s launching RunAustin, a marketing campaign to let people around the country know Austin is a great place to run races.

“We need to blow our own horn, let the world know that we have some of the best running events - not just great trails, a fit population, great running stores and terrific training programs,” says John Conley, owner of Conley Sports. “The part of message that gets left out is ‘Look at these terrific, iconic running events.’”

The campaign, unveiled today, includes a video plus local, regional and national ads to sell Austin as a running destination. The goal is to put the city on the map for serious and recreational runners nationwide.

The campaign promotes five races - the 3M Half Marathon, Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, IBM Uptown Classic, Paramount Break-a-Leg 5K and the Statesman Capitol 10,000 - all organized by Conley Sports, the sole financial backer for the project. Conley says he hopes to expand the campaign to include additional races in the future, “but we have to start somewhere.”

If all goes well, the races eventually might pool resources to buy barricades, toilets and other equipment needed to put on events. That would result in cost savings race organizers could pass on to runners, Conley says. In coming years, they might even create a RunAustin series of races.

Runners won’t be able to directly register for races at the platform’s website,, but they’ll be able to find updated information about each race and links to their websites and social media platforms.

Matthew Payne, executive director of Austin Sports Commission, a division of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the bureau will help promote the city as a running destination.

“We’ve got a great buzz in visitor segment. So many people want to come to Austin,” Payne says. “We’ve got a strong heatlh and fitness community here, and I think RunAustin is a brand we can embrace and sell.”