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Industry News:

Northshore and St. Paul Inline Promoters Launch Campaign to Draw Non-Skaters

Innovative Ad Campaign Targets Skiers, Cyclists and Runners

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

The two largest inline marathons in the United States have joined forces in a campaign to draw athletes from other endurance sports.

The unusual collaboration merges the resources of the Northshore and St. Paul inline marathons.

Officials of the two events worked together to plan and launch a new web site, called Skate a Marathon, which promotes the benefits and explains the nuts and bolts of marathon skating.

They also shared the expense of placing ads for the new site on four non-skate web sites devoted to other endurance sports.

"The idea was inspired by the notion that there are a lot of marathon and endurance athletes out there who haven't embraced inline skating," said Mike Cofrin of the St. Paul Marathon.

Both the Northshore and St. Paul marathons draw large crowds, but not as many as the big European and Asian inline marathons.

As far as registration goes, "we have plateaued at this point," said Chuck Carlberg, executive director of the Northshore Marathon.

Last year's Northshore, the ninth annual, drew 4050 skaters to Duluth, Minn., 186 skaters fewer than the year before.

Last year's inaugural St. Paul Marathon drew a healthy crowd of 1800 skaters.

This year's registration is on track to reach and possibly exceed that number. Cofrin is projecting 2500 skaters for this year's event.

The Skate a Marathon campaign targets athletes from other endurance sports that are popular in the Midwest, including running, cycling and, especially, cross-country skiing.

"There are a lot of cross-country skiers who are looking for something to do in the summer," Carlberg said.

Cross-country skiing is very popular in the upper Midwest and Canada. Last year's Birkie cross-country ski race in Wisconsin drew 8454 participants, twice the number of any North American inline marathon.

"That's a community we want to make friends with," Cofrin said.

Skate a Marathon ads have (or will be posted) on the web sites of Midwest Events, Silent Sport, Skinny Ski and Twin Cities Sports, Cofrin said.

Each of the sites has some coverage of inline skating. Even Skinny Ski, which is devoted to cross-country skiing, has a cover story titled, "My First Inline Marathon."

But the sites are dominated by other endurance sports.

The Skate a Marathon campaign may be expanded to include one or more other large marathons next year.

"There's no promotional entity out there taking care of the sport anymore. We're trying to fill the gap," Cofrin said.

(posted June 8, 2005)

(Talk about this story ... on the forum.)






Related reading

• The Skate a Marathon web site

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