In January of this year, the city of Portland announced Brooksee won the bid for 2019 Marathon. I read through the 15-page RFI Brooksee sent to the city of Portland. I must say, it all sounds pretty great. But can they breathe life into an event that has seen abysmal attendance, route issues, and even corruption over the past few years?
Brooksee is a Utah-based company that believes, with strategic marketing practices, it will be able to turn the Portland Marathon into an enormous event.
One of my main concerns with this is that this company is not Oregon-based. However, after reading through the document provided by Brooksee, I understand the need for a large company to come in and oversee the event if we hope to improve our local marathon.
Brooksee laid out its plan to use as many local Oregon companies and vendors as it can during the extent of the marathon.
Brooksee states it will attract at least 20,000 participants by 2023 and up to 35,000 participants by 2030—that seems pretty high when the most attendants the Portland Marathon has seen in the past was fewer than 9,000. However, looking at the list of swag that will be handed out, I am ready to sign up for my first marathon. The swag list includes a drawstring bag, a featured item, blanket, gloves, ice towels, and tattoos.
In its RFI to the city of Portland, the company claims its vertically integrated company will be able to handle what needs to be done to stand up next to the big guys such as the New York Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, and the Boston Marathon.
Brooksee hopes to catapult the Portland Marathon into a hugely popular marathon. To do this, the company will rely on Facebook and Google ads, as well as a large number of runner fans who participate in Brooksee’s other events. If the company can pull this off it will mean big things for the flood of out-of-towners who will travel to Portland, stay in hotels, eat a lot of food, and potentially do a little shopping and sightseeing while they are here.
And while this would be a boon for our city’s pocketbook, that also means more congestion in our streets—making an already frustrating situation into complete gridlock. Hopefully, with Brooksee’s large marketing budget, the company can see that the citizens of Portland are well prepared for the chaos.
One of the best things I saw within the RFI is Brooksee’s transfer/withdrawal/deferral policy. The group states that runners can transfer their race entries to other runners, defer until the next year’s event, or withdrawal from the event with a full refund. This is huge. How many of us have injured ourselves before a race and had to eat the race entry cost anyway? If only every race was able to do this.
The real question is: Will Brooksee be able to pull off its lofty expectations for a race that has been in steady decline for the past few years? We shall see. I for one hope Brooksee succeeds and we are able to give the other big-name marathons a ‘run’ for their money.