Marathons & Mud Runs. Great Business, But Where's The Tech? Endurance racing is more popular than ever. Trouble is, there is a lack of real technology hooks in ticketing and social media.

By William Litvack

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

katringomonova |

Endurance racing and participation sports is the ticketing industry's fastest-growing category. The vertical presents a tremendous opportunity for ticketing platforms to help brands realize substantial value, but only if those platforms can understand and adapt to racing's specific needs.

Fitness gets a lot of attention these days. With the obesity epidemic increasingly a source of national attention and concern, more and more people are making concerted efforts to incorporate fitness activity into their lives, which is a big part of the reason why the popularity of events like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Color Run has exploded. Collectively known as endurance racing, this category ranges from serious to silly to downright masochistic, and this breadth has allowed these races to attract a pool of registrants that's ideal for advertisers.

Attendees are almost evenly split between men and women, ages 23-35, who possess the discretionary spending necessary to drop between $65 and $150 on a single race. They're enthusiastic about technology, too; the unique opportunities for brand activation and digital sponsorship are enormous. Beyond that, the space itself is attractive, having not yet been corroded by the toxic signing bonus and high processing fees dynamic that has plagued ticketing in the concert, club, and festival space.

Related: This Startup Is Building a Tinder for Athletes

Historically speaking, the space has been dominated by Active. They've been around for a long time, which has allowed them to develop a number of powerful features addressing the specifics of race registration. That said, Active has serious problems. Their product is lacking on mobile for ticket buyers, and they persist in making choices that annoy consumers, such as peddling magazine subscriptions at checkout. In other words, endurance-race ticketing is more than ready for disruption.

WIth so much upside, it's hard to imagine why the ticketing industry isn't bending over backward to court these events. Eventbrite has begun to focus on the space, as it now handles all ticketing for Tough Mudder, but few other platforms are making serious inroads. In part this is because endurance racing just isn't "sexy" enough to capture the attention of smaller companies, but it's also due to the need for slightly more specialized technology in order to support the events and the fact that the sales model is more akin to traditional SaaS sales than what we see in DIY or self-serve ticketing platforms.

Despite these challenges, any platform that truly understands the space and the opportunities it provides is poised for massive success. Given the right supporting technology and brand partnerships, it's possible to do truly unique things in terms of sponsorships and brand activation at events. Companies like Tough Mudder, Color Run, and the rest have already demonstrated a clear ability to be creative in their branding and marketing, so providing them the right technology should be game-changing

Related: How This Light Bulb Makes It Easier for You to Stream Music

What's more, the social side of these events is a huge miss -- not to mention mess -- right now. The onus is on the attendee, and event organizers aren't in a position to do much to help them. It's past time for someone to come along and apply the lessons we learned from VC-backed social media companies. There's simply too much missed opportunity for the space to lie fallow much longer, particularly given the enthusiastic, engaged, and fundamentally social nature of endurance run participants.

As is so often the case in ticketing, the primary narrative here is one of outdated technology and lack of understanding on the part of incumbents leading to significant missed opportunities. Like so many of the best events, endurance and participation sports organizers are really just fantastic marketing companies with a proven ability to create and sustain excitement around their events. Moving forward, the ticketing platforms that will end up dominating this huge and growing space are those that best empower organizers to deploy that creativity on behalf of their attendees and brand partners.

This article was written by a member of the AlleyNYC contributor network. AlleyNYC is one of the world's largest innovation hubs, helping foster the growth of startups in its flagship location in New York City. Entrepreneur Media is a partner and investor in AlleyNYC. If you would like to learn more about AlleyNYC and how to apply for membership visit here.

Related: This Gadget Aims to Keep Kids and Their Families Connected

William Litvack

Entrepreneur, CEO and Founder of SquadUP, Inc.

William Litvack began his professional career as a research analyst, focusing on the publicly traded healthcare sector. As the founder and CEO of SquadUP, he oversees all aspects of the business including product development, business development, sales, marketing and fundraising. SquadUP provides hosts and event-goers with an immersive social event experience through their web and mobile devices. SquadUP's applications for desktop web, iOS and Android transform the event experience with an end-to-end, mobile first solution for event planning, messaging, image sharing and ticketing.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Science & Technology

Save More Than $200 on a Lifetime of Streamed Documentaries

Curiosity Stream is like Netflix, except for documentaries.


Practice the Powerful 'Morning 3' for a Focused and Satisfying Day, Says Google's Executive Productivity Advisor

Laura Mae Martin, author of the forthcoming book 'Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Wellbeing,' shares her strategies for success.

Science & Technology

1 in 5 Companies Had a Security Breach, New Study Says

The most common factor to blame? Mobile devices.

Science & Technology

The 'Mother of All Breaches' Just Happened — Here's the Security Implications for Businesses

If your business exists online, chances are some percent of your customers' data got leaked in what cybersecurity specialists boldly labeled as the "mother of all breaches" (MOAB).

Side Hustle

Getting Laid Off Allowed Him to Focus on His Sentimental Side Hustle. Now He's on Track to Earn Over $700,000 in 2024.

Alaa El Ghatit wasn't fulfilled at his day job. So he started LifeOnRecord to help people record memories and well wishes.