In what must be seen as a harbinger of hope, USA Track & Field announced yesterday that it has signed a new sponsor for a new event to bolster what has previously been little more than a nominal national road race series. Called the .US National Road Racing Championships, the new 12-kilometer event will feature a $100,000 purse — $20,000 to each gender champion — while putting a jaunty cap atop a currently quite bland USA Running Circuit — nine locally controlled unaffiliated events which run from February through October over distances from one-mile to the marathon.
The new event and sponsorship was announced yesterday as part of a three-year deal with Neustar, a Virginia-based domain-name registration company. No specific date or location for the new race was disclosed as details are still being worked out. However, the time and place announcement is said to be coming in March.
The signing of Neustar was ushered through by the still-dewy USATF CEO Max Siegel who took office last May. The deal represents the single largest event sponsorship signed by USATF in a decade (which is telling in itself). What’s more, the event will be the first road race wholly owned and operated by USATF.
With hundreds of road races and millions of road racers nationwide, and only several thousand adult track and field athletes, the imbalance in USATF membership and focus has been a festering challenge since road racing was first lumped in with track and race walking when Congress broke up the old AAU with the enactment of the Amateur Sports Act of 1978.
“…the vast majority (of runners) are running for something other than prize money or Olympic medals,” Siegel said in the announcement. “This race is their race, and USATF is their organization. With the support of Neustar, we will be able to reach out to a full cross-section of runners like never before.” (more…)