BOSTON - Marking a trend of continued growth, road runners and walkers raised $575 million for charity in 2004, USA Track & Field (USATF) announced Saturday. The figure marks a 2 percent increase over 2003 ($563 million) and a 10 percent increase over the inaugural study results for 2002 ($520 million).
The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego, Calif., has been named the 2004 USATF Charitable Race of the Year, while the American Heart Association Heart Walk was honored as 2004 Charitable Organization of the Year. The awards are an outgrowth of USATF's ongoing study into charitable running in the United States, begun in 2002.
Conducted internally by USATF - the national governing body of track and field, long-distance running and race walking - with the assistance of graduate students from George Washington University's Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, the study revealed that approximately $575 million was raised for charitable causes by runners in 2004. USATF gathered data from 20 national charitable race series/organizations and 273 running/walking races, including 24 of the country's 100 largest races.
"We began this study three years ago to attempt to put a number on what is an economic and social force in America," said USATF CEO Craig A. Masback. "The results speak volumes. Over the last three years alone, more than $1.6 billion has been raised by runners and walkers who are training and competing for a cause. Charity running continues to grow, even as competitive marathoners continue to raise the bar of elite performance. The marathon phenomenon has had a positive effect on American society, from promoting fitness to pursuing altruistic goals such as charity fund-raising."
Rock 'n' Roll Marathon fundraising success story
One of the most popular marathons in the country since its inception in 1998, the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon has made a name for itself as a hugely successful charity event, a world-class race, and a celebration of running. A record setting charity program, 47 bands playing along the race course, a major post-race concert,and 2,000 high school cheerleaders on hand helped make the 1998 edition the largest inaugural marathon in history, andsome 21,000 entrants areexpected in the 2005 edition of the race on June 5. It is the fifth-largest marathon in the United States and the ninth-largest in the world.
Teaming up with The Leukemia& Lymphoma Society, the race hosted close to6,000 runners who raised a net of $15.6 million for the charity in 1998 - a pace it maintained in 2004, with $15 million in charity funds coming it - making it the largest one-day sporting event fundraiser in U.S. history. The race will surpass $100 million raised in the course of the event's eight year history this year. Nearly 1,500 additional,sponsored runners also will raise money for assorted other causes at the race, and the event makes contributions to over 50 local schools and community groups.
"We're thrilled to receive this honor," said Tracy Sundlun, executive vice president of Elite Racing, which owns and operates the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. "We really market the charity side of things, and we're proud that our approach helped change the sport. We have to get a great elite field [course records are 2:08:33 for men and 2:25:05 for women], but the charity element is also crucial. You need every piece of it to be a truly great event. It makes what we do very, very worthwhile when we meet people whose lives have been saved by the research funded by this charity work."
For more information on the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, visit http://www.rnrmarathon.com. For more information on Elite Racing, visit www.eliteracing.com
Heart Walk makes strikes against heart disease, stroke
Unifying various walks around the country, the American Heart Association Heart Walk began as a unified, national effort in 1992 and annually features more than 600 walking events throughout the year, with more than 1.5 million participants. As the signature fund-raising event for the American Heart Association, the Heart Walk promotes physical activity and heart-healthy living in a fun, family environment. All monies raised go to save lives from this country's No. 1 and No. 3killers, heart disease and stroke.
In 2004 alone, Heart Walk events throughout the country raised more than $82 million to fight these diseases. Since 1992, Heart Walk has raised more than $489 million. The largest and most successful of the local and regional walks are those held in Detroit and Seattle, with both raising more than $2 million last year.
Participants traditionally sign up for the walks through their employers, which field fund-raising teams to participate in the walk. "Through the Heart Walk, participants raise critical dollars for heart and stroke research and community and professional education programs," said Elaine Speer, AHA communications manager. "The Heart Walk provides an opportunity for companies to get their employees involved in a heart-healthy community activity. As a result, companies experience fun and camaraderie while helping to save lives from heart disease and stroke."
For more information on the American Heart Association Heart Walk, visit www.americanheart.org
For more information on USA Track & Field, visit www.usatf.org
USATF Charitable Race of the Year: 2004, Rock & Roll Marathon; 2003, Marine Corps Marathon; 2002, Boston Marathon
USATF Charitable Organization of the Year: 2004, American Heart Association Heart Walk; 2003, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure®; 2002, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training