What #10YearsRunning has achieved for the Royal Parks, runners and sponsorsLast Sunday saw a capacity field of 16,000 runners from around the world, plus tens of thousands of spectators, celebrate #10Years Running of the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Reaching this milestone year, with the Royal Parks Half now firmly established as a must do event in the sporting calendar, at Limelight Sports we can now reflect on what has been achieved over the past 10 years.
Limelight was introduced to what was The Royal Parks Foundation in 2007, a small but hugely ambitious charity that wanted to create an event that raised annual, sustainable income for The Royal Parks and hundreds of other UK charities. Together we developed and launched the Royal Parks Half Marathon in 2008, a 13.1 mile run taking in the best of London - iconic landmarks and four of the beautiful Royal Parks.
But from the outset we wanted it to be more than just a run – we wanted to take our participants on a fully supported journey from the moment they registered through to race day; to create a fun day out for runners and their friends and family; to offer a platform for our event partners to really engage with our audience in an authentic and valuable way; to celebrate the millions of pounds being raised for charity.
10 years on, the results have blown us all away:
- The Royal Parks Half is an annual, sell out event and the second biggest half marathon in the UK. A public ballot was introduced in 2010 to manage the demand for entries and create a fairer process. The coloured, wave starts are based on estimated finish time and participants are pulsed out at timed intervals to ensure the best possible race experience. Over 128,000 runners have taken part since the inaugural run in 2008.
- Since 2008, the event has raised over £35million for 940 charities and has the highest fundraising per head of any UK half marathon. 2017 saw a new initiative with Virgin Money Giving in celebration of the 10th running of the event, whereby charities who had previously not been able to take places in the race, had an exclusive opportunity to get involved. 2017 saw 530 charities take part, of which 192 were taking part for the first time. Over 65% of runners raise money for charity.
- 96% of participants describe their overall experience as excellent. Focusing on creating the best possible experience is a key objective of the Royal Parks Half and has seen innovations over the years including Limelight developing a tracker app, enabling friends and family to follow participants on their run. In 2017, the app was downloaded over 20,000 times. New initiatives for 2017 to celebrate the 10 year milestone included a free finisher photo for all participants and a floral ‘Celebration Walkway’, for runners to share their personal stories of why they ran on tags made from recycled paper containing wildflower seeds. They were then encouraged to take the tags home to sow in their own garden, or leave them behind to be planted at the base of a new tree in Hyde Park to celebrate the impact the Half Marathon has had in its first 10 years.
- Creating a platform for brands to engage with their audience through the active world. There is a comprehensive marketing and communications engagement campaign each year, incorporating our event partners, aiming to support the runners’ journey to race day. 2017 saw fantastic new partnerships developed with Royal Bank of Canada (Presenting Partner and Title Partner of the Corporate 13.1), Fitbit (Official Wearable Technology Partner) and Jarlsberg (Food and Fitness Partner).
- Delivering on the aim to be as green and sustainable as possible, with race shirts made from bamboo and recycled polyester (14 plastic bottles per shirt); wooden medals FSC certified; discarded clothes at the start collected and re-sold by Traid; any food remaining at the end of the day donated to local charities by Fareshare; clearly labelled recycling bins including those dedicated to bananas. In 2016, 110,000 bottles were recycled, 891kg clothing saved from landfill and 40% food waste recycled (2017 figures currently being processed at the time of this blog).