4 am alarm, pre-race meal, coordinating with buddies to reach the venue, never-ending conversation on pacing strategy, quick warms-up in the packed holding area…phew! All of it is making a comeback after two years this summer as Bengaluru opens its roads for runners running the TCS World 10K this weekend.
Having run this event on two occasions in the past as a participant, I can vouch for the unparalleled energy that this event offers to those who choose to participate. And after two years of missing out on this kind of vibe and meeting my ‘running tribe’, I am all set to be on the start line of this race yet again.
The excitement around this major on-ground event after two years of lockdowns is unprecedented. Vivek Singh, Joint MD, Procam International, says the registrations have been pouring in till last week. “In the last few days we have seen an upward trend in registrations. Keeping this in mind, we have kept registrations for a few categories open at the event expo which began from May 12 to ensure everyone gets an opportunity to be a part of the TCS World 10k. We are confident to see approximately 19,000 participants on the streets of Bengaluru this Sunday.”
What runners have to say
Tim Tim Sharma, 38, a popular runner from Bengaluru, shares how the excitement is already palpable, given that it is race week and many runners from across the country are in Bengaluru for the event. “It is going to be really great to meet all the familiar faces and welcome new ones,” she adds. “The TCS10k is a celebration of the sport of running. It is the day Bengaluru roads are shut and runners take over the streets for the first few hours of the morning. It is an initiation of thousands to the world of running, also a kick start to the racing season. It is a festival for the runners and I am proud to have run it two times in the past winning in my age category both times.”
Nithin B. Jawali, 48, who has participated in this event on five occasions in the past, says: “The run is #nammarace, the pride of Bangalore and is known worldwide. It has been a long two years and I can’t wait to see all the runners on the road again.”
Kshitij Sharma, a 34-year-old runner from Bengaluru, who will be running the event for the second time this year is also excited to meet fellow runners from different cities. “An event like this brings hope for so many recreational runners like me who get motivated to get back to training once they register for mega events like this,” Sharma says.
Another popular runner and running coach from Bengaluru, Ankita Gaur, who had taken a break from running races due to pregnancy, will be running the event this year. She has participated in this event six times in the past. She tells Storyboard18, “This race will be very special for me as it will be my first race as a mother.”
Thirty-nine-year-old ultra-runner Gunjan Khurana who will be travelling from Surat to not just run the event but also participate as pacer, helping many others meet their goals, is looking forward to running this marathon for the first time.
Brands in for the long-run
Shashank Mehta, founder and CEO of The Whole Truth Foods, will also be participating and he couldn’t hide his excitement. “Running is my first love. I started my fitness journey running, including a few marathons. This is the first large-scale running event since COVID, and I'm looking forward to running alongside some of the best runners in the country.”
Mehta's brand is also the official snack for the TCS World 10K. The brand has planned an activation with a contingent of 80-90 runners who will run for ‘The Whole Truth’. “We have a community of highly accomplished runners and fitness experts and we've got some of them together for this run.”And a congregation such as this after two years break has had many more brands excited.
Take IDFC First Bank, for example. This is the first time IDFC First Bank has come on board as the associate sponsor. From this year, the Bank is a sponsor of Procam International’s four running events; TCS World 10K being first in the series. “These events have grown in international stature and repute over the last decade. As a bank, we believe in offering great value to customers, and viewed through that lens, a participative sport like marathons helps us connect well with our audience,” says Naarayan TV, chief marketing officer, IDFC FIRST Bank.
As a special initiative, the Bank has announced a pledge to contribute to social causes on behalf of every participant completing the 10K run in 60 minutes at TCS World 10K Bengaluru. Naarayan TV says that this initiative aligns with the bank’s philosophy of being a force for social good and with the 10K Bengaluru’s theme of social inclusion. He says, “An association with a sport like marathon builds community spirit, promotes wellness and is a natural fit for our bank.”
There are many other brands who have jumped on the 10K bandwagon. Volini, for example, will be ‘Recovery Partner’. Its recovery zone is equipped with sports scientists, injury management specialists, doctors and physiotherapists facilitating instant pain relief and tending to tired muscles to all open 10K participants. A direct approach to showcasing their brand promise to the consumer.
Bisleri, on the other hand, will be ‘Hydration Partner’ to the event and will have 6 Bisleri water stations on the course and one post finish. Fast & Up is on board as the Energy Drink Partner.
And then there is global IT major TCS who is on board as the title sponsor.
Spirit. Community. Brand Building.
In an exclusive conversation with Storyboard18, Rajashree R, chief marketing officer of TCS, says she is excited to have runners on the street, although in the past the brand had enabled the virtual organisation of the event. “Sports in general pushes human ingenuity to its limit and there is a core belief that every human can do better. We are actively working with organisers to make sure that this is the most technologically advanced. Whether it is the TCS World 10K or the TCS New York City Marathon, all these events use our app, they use our tech. Even when we went virtual we used Augmented Reality to give runners the virtual experience of running the event,” she says, adding how races like these not just help them engage with their key stakeholders but also be a part of the spirit of that particular city.”
According to the recently released Nielsen Global Sports Marketing report, sports sponsorship grew by 107% in 2021. And this growth is true for both spectator sports and participatory sports such as marathons and triathlons as well.
Plus, partnerships with major participatory events like running are cost-effective and highly strategic solutions for brands to position themselves in the marketplace and reconnect with its consumers. These races are not just about the run day. For example, training for endurance sports and events such as running, cycling or triathlon starts up to 16 weeks or more before the race weekend. This allows a brand the opportunity to get right inside the life of a runner over an extended period of time and authentically become part of the journey.
Sportswear brand ASICS is one such brand that has taken up interactive marketing approaches to create awareness and build curiosity for this event. The sportswear brand is running a local campaign ‘Bengaluru, Let’s have a Blast’ focused on educating the customer on its latest Flytefoam blast technology in shoes.
On the race day, top 950 finishers in the Open 10K category across men and women will be presented with a t-shirt as a token of appreciation for their effort and hard work.
Such an effort also provides means to continue the dialogue and build a relationship and portray them as a company that supported an individual’s accomplishment. And indeed, every runner loves to cherish the race memory with a finisher tee!
Creating brand experiences in a non-cluttered environment
Rajat Khurana, managing director, ASICS India & South Asia, who is an accomplished runner himself says that this event is important for the brand to communicate with the running community in the southern part of India about various innovations and technologies that ASICS has to offer.
“South India is an important market for us and we have 7 outlets in the city and 16 stores in the region. Through this partnership, we wish to enable runners across all age groups to push themselves to achieve new goals and experience the joy of running.”
Creating a sense of community in a non-cluttered environment is attractive to brands that don’t want to pay big-ticket major league rights fees for events such as the IPL and have their brand reside in a sea of logos on ground. Apart from this, a running strategy can also enhance a corporate culture by bringing staff together and providing an inclusive employee engagement activity around which they can rally for a specific cause or purpose. The title sponsor TCS has been doing exactly this for many years now across various events and will see a huge employee participation for this event as well.But, given the occasional peaks and valleys in the number of Covid cases in the country, the organizers have to play it safe as well. Organizers such as Procam work together with the government to ensure the safe return of outdoor mass participation events by collaborating on a range of protocols that ensure a Covid-secure environment.
“Every participant needs to be double vaccinated, there will be a temperature check upon entry, you can’t enter the venue without a mask, if you drop a mask we will provide you with one at the venue, such other protocols will be followed rigorously. Here is an opportunity for us to give courage to people and show them that things are getting back to normal,” says Singh.
For those who still have jitters participating in the physical event have an option to run the virtual race wherever they are located, through a paid participation. According to Procam, there are thousands who have registered for the virtual race and even these runners will get a t-shirt and a medal.Note to readers: Storyboard18’s new Month In Focus initiative spotlights themes and topics that are pushing marketers to reshape and rethink how brands interact with today’s customers. Our first theme is Just Sports, a special spotlight on sports marketing presented by Sports18. We bring to you stories of how marketers are harnessing the power of technology, innovation and creativity in sports to create powerful storytelling in campaigns that increase affinity and loyalty with audiences. From traditional sports platforms around cricket to emerging games and the rise of esports, we get leading voices from the marketing and sports worlds to give us sharp and fast insights into future-facing marketing practices. Also, tune in for analyses which will surface ideas and strategies that are helping brands to level up experiences and storytelling with authentic collaborations. So watch this space for Just Sports.