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Posted: September 19, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Distance Run To Join Rock 'n' Roll Race Family For 2010

From David Monti
© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

PHILADELPHIA (18-Sep) -- The race which did more than any other in America to legitimize the half-marathon as a distance for serious athletes is getting a new name. The ING Philadelphia Distance Run, which takes place here on Sunday for the 32nd time, will be rebranded as the ING Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon for 2010.

Competitor Group, Inc., which owns this event and the rest of the successful Rock 'N' Roll running races in the United States, sees huge potential in what still remains for many runners here just a local race. Competitor Group vice-president Tracy Sundlan points out that his organization produces much larger races in cities considerably smaller than Philadelphia. For instance, the Country Music Half-Marathon in Nashville, which is held in conjunction with a marathon by the same name, had 22,749 finishers in 2009. That's almost 10,000 more finishers than in the Philadelphia race last year which had a record 13,181 finishers. Nashville has a population of about 570,000 to Philadelphia's 1.4 million.

"The Rock 'N' Roll brand does that," said Sundlan in an interview. He added: "The brand just lights them up."

City officials here had never been particularly friendly to the Distance Run. That defies a national trend where cities have opened their arms to road races as dependable magnets for tourism which generate significant economic activity. This has been particularly true in the current recession where road race entry levels have remained high, and have even grown. Runners make very loyal customers, race organizers have demonstrated.

Sundlan said that modifications could be made to the event to accommodate a larger field, including a wave start and tweaks to the flat, out-and-back course. He's convinced that with the rebranding the race could be much bigger.

"My God, this is Philadelphia!," he exclaimed

PHOTO: The new logo for the ING Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon was unveiled at the ING Philadelphia Distance Run race expo (Photo by David Monti)

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