MARCH 2018

Mass participation sports events on the rise.

Mass participation sports events have become a buzzword in recent years. But what is it exactly and why have they become so popular? Why are they such a big attraction for brands?

Mass participation sports events are commonly associated with large participation numbers, usually in the tens of thousands. From traditional events such as marathons, triathlons and cycling events to the newer formats of obstacle races such as Spartan Race and themed events like Hello Kitty Run and The Color Run, these races are regularly attracting participants en masse. As a result, these events are a large-scale operation, requiring careful planning and good infrastructure especially considering it requires the closure of public areas and roads.

Mass participation sports events have really kicked off in Asia in the past decade or so, with races such as the Hong Kong and Singapore Marathons regularly attracting tens of thousands of participants. Over the years, mass participation sports events have also caught on elsewhere in the region; by some estimates, Malaysia had around 800 running events in 2016, in 2017 the number had increased to over 1000, and by the end of this year, experts estimate that more than 1200 running events will have been held in the country. A similar trend is seen in China, which saw around 400 marathons last year, according to some estimates.

Why have mass participation sports events become so popular? There are many reasons, according to Chris Robb, Founder and CEO of Mass Participation Asia, Asia’s leading annual mass participation sports conference. “I think in Asia mass participation sports events have grown largely as a result of an emerging middle class becoming more active and health conscious combined with greater awareness of mass events through social media,” he says. “It’s the opportunity to be part of a community, to be involved in an active and healthy lifestyle, and the satisfaction of the achievement of finishing an event – again aligned with social media which presents the opportunity to share the achievement. It’s also not just about the event but the journey to get there – the weeks and months of training – alone and with friends, the joy of getting the right gear and gadgets and the impact that it makes on the participants’ health and wellbeing with change of diet, weight loss, improved self-esteem, better productivity and so on.”

According to Chris Robb, the rise in mass participation sports events also coincides with a growing middle class across Asia with more disposable income and awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Many incorporate their passion for running, for example, with a passion for travel, attending events in several countries throughout the year.

The nature of mass participation sports events naturally makes them attractive marketing channels for brands, giving them an opportunity to reach sometimes tens of thousands of participants in an engaging and dynamic environment. “Mass participation sports events present a great opportunity to engage with existing and potential customers over an extended period of time in the lead up to the event, on event day and after the event,” explains Chris Robb. “The benefits to governments and cities are significant with the likes of reduced health costs, national pride, community engagement and tourism.”

The Sponsorship Experts are proud to manage sponsorship and partnership marketing for some of Thailand's premier mass participation sports events, including Bangsaen21, BANGSAEN42, KhaoKheow10, Laguna Phuket Marathon, Scenic Marathon Series and TRI-Factor Series Asian Championship. For more information, click here.

Paul Poole (South East Asia) Co., Ltd. is an independent marketing consultancy based in Bangkok, Thailand specialising in commercial sponsorship and partnership marketing, working with both rights holders and brands - acting as a catalyst by bringing them together and maximising the relationship.

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