New York Road Runners: Run for Life


New York Road Runners is an organization committed to providing runners all over the world the means to run, and an opportunity work towards a social cause while doing so. The growth that the organization and its insignia event- the New York City Marathon-  have experienced are a testament to the proper alignment of its strategic and operating models.


Who are the New York Road Runners?

NYYR started out as a club 50+ years ago where New Yorkers could meet and organize informal running events in Central Park. Over the years it has turned into premier organization for runners of all ages and experience levels around the world by organizing running events and programs. The club’s success has indisputably been built upon community building among runners and their supporters, as well as the effective management of its membership and donors.


What is NYRR’s value proposition?About Us

Their community consists of runners from beginner levels all the way to professional. Races are held around the five boroughs of New York throughout the year and cover various distances, from 4 miles all the way to a full marathon (26.2 miles). Along with races, NYRR provides training programs which include online tracking systems and running classes for people who want to improve their times. Runners can also obtain nutrition and injury prevention tips to further enhance their training experience.

In addition, NYRR attempts to help young kids across New York to lead an active lifestyle and get inspired by running. Through programs like the Might Milers, NYRR provides parents and schools and way to set mileage goals for kids. Kids get rewards based on milestone achievements, while schools receive funds to spend on sports equipment, supplies, or healthy snacks and books.


How do they generate revenue?

NYYR’s funds come from a number of sources, including individual and institutional donors.

The first source of revenue are actual races, as participants are charged a registration fee. Fees range based on the popularity of a race; for example, a 10K in Central Park may cost $20, but the NYC Marathon costs up to $347 for international participants.  For the NYC Half and Full Marathon, charities can become “partners” with NYRR and for a price of up to $995 per entry they are guaranteed spots on the race to allocate for participants fundraising on their behalf.

running in CPNYRR also collects funds via sponsorships. In return for their donations, institutions and corporations are able to showcase their company logos at events and, importantly, can even tie their name to a particular race.

Finally, the club obtains money by charging a membership fee (typically $40 for a year) for all runners who want to be come official members. NYRR provides exclusive benefits to its members such as reduced race entry fees, usage of facilities in its NY headquarters and guaranteed entry to the NYC Marathon once the runner has participated in other races.


A closer look at race operations- New York City Marathon

What does an operation strategy look like when it is deigned to provide an unforgettable running experience? Lets’ take a closer look at the NYC Marathon:

The race is the largest and one of the most iconic marathons in the world, attracting more than 50,000 runners and close to 2 million spectators across the course.

On race day, runners are assigned different start times based on their category. Wheelchair competitors start at 8:30am followed by handcyclists at 8:55am, professional women at 9:20am and professional men at 9:50am. The rest of the runners start the race in four staggered waves, in increasing time intervals where the fastest runners are placed in the first wave, the slightly slower in the second, and so on to prevent fast runners from being held up by slower ones. In addition, there are pacers with assigned finish times that complete the race, which runners can choose to follow.


The course itself it marked by clocks with color coded signs which correspond to different waves to help runners keep track of time, and by yellow kilometer signs posted every 5 kilometers. To assure that finishers complete the full course, checkpoints are installed and running mats are placed every mile after mile 8 that record a runner’s time through a chip that is found in the numbers that they wear.

The race is also designed to provide runners with the most comfortable and safe experience as possible.  Medical aid stations are located approximately every mile and medical volunteers wear red T-shirts for easy identification. Water and Gatorade are provided every mile to keep runners well hydrated, and fruit is available on miles 20-23 (at this point, the body needs carbohydrates to sustain its energy exertion).  Finally, portable toilets are located at the beginning of the race for runners to take advantage of before they start running, and subsequently every mile.

Crossing the finish line is one of the most gratifying moments for a marathon runner. At this point, many want to celebrate with their relatives and friends. Spectators are actually placed in corrals at the end of the course by alphabetical order (per their runner’s last name) so that they can easily be found.

Overall, the organization of the race serves it purpose to truly enhance the running experience, as is scalable to serve this many runners. At the same time, charities receive funds and NYRR obtains revenues that are used to pursue their mission.




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Student comments on New York Road Runners: Run for Life

  1. Great post!

    I was always interested how such organizations in different cities manage administrative issues with local government. For example, does NYRR pay to the city in order to block central streets for several hours? Who identifies when and where the event will be held? What public authorities are involved? How risks are separated between public authorities and NYRR?

  2. Very interesting post about NYRR! A few things that I would like to know about NYRR are:

    1. It seems that NYRR is able to scale up or scale down based on the popularity of the event from a participant and spectator perspective. I wonder if there is an ultimate capacity that NYRR can hold. Where do they draw the line on the number of participants and spectators and why at that point?

    2. It is my understanding that the NY Marathon was cancelled in 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy and that this was very upsetting to its customer base. Has NYRR established guidelines or precautions for best dealing with these types of scenarios going forward? How does NYRR determine whether a race will continue in light of a potential threat or unpredictable weather?

    3. As they continue to develop as an organization, how is NYRR adapting both its operating and business models? Will they begin to charge more as they become more popular? Will they aim to make their processes more efficient as technology becomes more prevalent? Hopefully they continue growing and evolving with the times to continue being the strong organization they are.

  3. Very interesting post! Are there any obstacles NYRR encounters that are unique for New York? Has the NYRR model be implemented in other cities? How much of the success of the organization depends on its relationship with local government? How do members rate NYRR compared to running organizations in other cities?

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