400% Growth and 15 Years of Digital Transformation

How the New York Road Runner’s Association’s ambitions in the early 2000’s led to a 10-year digital business transformation journey and 400% growth


From Running Club to Digital Powerhouse- NYRR is Revolutionizing the World of Races and Marathons

New York Road Runners is the world's largest running organization. Every year, hundreds of thousands of runners participate in over 60 annual races, including five half marathons and the world's largest marathon - the New York City Marathon. What started out as a simple running club over 30 years ago, has transformed into a leading brand in the athletic events space.


In 2009, the ambition of the New York Road Runners’ Leadership far exceeded the maximum capacity of the New York Marathon. 


At the heels of the New York Marathon’s continued rise in popularity, attempts to launch new digital experiences and to digitize the operations of the events fell far too short. The new mobile app to enable its runners and digital programs to facilitate event operations struggled under the stress of an event as large and as complex as the 2009 New York Marathon. In 2010, the truth could not be any clearer for the New York Road Runners leadership team: ambitious plans and bold imaginations require a stable foundation of technology and infrastructure.


They turned to Icreon to achieve digital excellence across diverse operational aspects. Explore how Icreon helped them modernize outdated processes to accommodate rapid growth, create a single unified enterprise application to achieve the highest digital transformation while generating more revenue streams. 



Setting the Digital Pace for the World’s Largest Marathon

The Challenge: NYRR Struggles to Align Growth with Outdated Infrastructure


As the New York Road Runners expanded their footprint, they experienced a new challenge: keeping up with the increase in organizational popularity. The current business processes, digital and IT infrastructure was just not suited to support the current size of the organization. The senior leadership saw this for what it was, an opportunity – an opportunity was to build a world class digital infrastructure that would enhance the overall experience of their running community.  


The Solution: Building a Strategic Digital Roadmap for Successful Transformation 


Laying the groundwork for a digital roadmap starts with understanding the people, processes and products that play a role within an organization. Icreon’s initial engagement began with creating a blueprint for the organization to achieve digital maturity. The audit process involved interviews with key stakeholders, from department leaders to daily operators, to comprehensively understand the impact of existing technology on various business areas. This audit formed the foundation for a holistic report that identified risks, dependencies, and skill requirements, while paving the way for a strategic digital roadmap. 


The team at Icreon covered everything from race details to volunteer management to runner's bib assignments – all which need be coordinated in unison to ensure races can be held without a hitch. Additionally, we mapped out the processes and workflows that are essential for operations to run smoothly.   


The exercise lent itself to a complete report that identified major risks, people dependencies, skill sets and clear next steps. We realized that before NYRR could begin any path toward digital maturity, there needed to be a single enterprise system that powers all events and ultimately becomes the organization’s north star.  
Post-assessment, Icreon put forth a high-level digital roadmap for NYRR with a tactical way to deliver on the vision for a single enterprise application that drives the organization. Using the audit report as a catalyst, we outlined the major digital gaps within the organization and charted out a list of the most business-critical priorities to shift focus on.  


The Result: NYRR Achieves Record Revenue Growth and Seamless Adoption


These strategic efforts yielded substantial outcomes for NYRR. The organization experienced a remarkable 40% increase in revenue within the first 12 months post-assessment. Furthermore, achieving a 100% adoption rate among internal employees underscored the successful integration and alignment of the proposed digital changes. The resulting high-level digital roadmap set the stage for NYRR's evolution into a digitally mature entity, poised to elevate its marathon experiences and solidify its position as a leader in the athletic events domain.



Development of an Enterprise Application System to Create a Single Source of Truth

The Challenge: NYRR's Operational Complexity: Fragmented Systems and Manual Processes Hinder Efficiency 


After Icreon’s initial digital technology assessment with NYRR, one thing became clear: a single system that powers all events and operations is necessary for digital maturity. The Icreon team had gone through a deep dive discovery of the technology landscape, and a blueprint now existed that laid the groundwork for the ideation of an enterprise application.


On the platform side of the business - there were several fragmented, standalone systems that were siloed and not communicating information in real time. On the process side – components like bib assignments, marathon drawings, and payments were being processed manually. That meant NYRR required a single unified system that integrates all mission-critical systems, while simultaneously automating processes and workflows.


The Solution: Developed A Unified Enterprise Solution ‘FRED’


To tackle the challenges, Icreon devised a comprehensive solution. The concept of FRED, an enterprise application, was introduced to create cohesion within NYRR's operations. FRED aimed to consolidate data, automate workflows, and streamline processes, paving the way for a more efficient organizational structure.


For the first time in NYRR’s 50-year history, there was a unified platform for the business to run on – all thanks to FRED. The new enterprise application, eventually titled FRED in homage to the organization’s founder, would need to consolidate and digitize a multitude of technologies and processes within the organization, ultimately becoming their north star.


From race drawings to ecommerce purchases – all operational data was now flowing into one place, giving departments across the organization complete visibility into the customer experience. Today, this platform is used across the entire business to deliver impactful experiences by analyzing customer behavior and creating new and unique products.


The Result: FRED Delivers Unprecedented Gains in Terms of Revenue Surge, Race Capacity Boost, and Faster Sign Ups


With FRED's implementation, NYRR underwent a transformative shift. The enterprise application seamlessly integrated fragmented systems, optimizing processes and enhancing efficiency. The remarkable outcomes were unmistakable: a remarkable 5-fold increase in revenue, an impressive 200% surge in race and event capacity, and a game-changing 10-fold reduction in the time taken from sign-up to check-out, underscoring the power of FRED's impact on NYRR's operational landscape.


CASE Study 3

Creating A More Passionate Running Community Through Omni-channel Integration

The Challenge: Enhancing Customer Engagement Across Diverse Personas


With the successful launch of FRED and the public facing NYRR website, for the first time in the organization’s history, customer data from different platforms was flowing into a centralized database. The next challenge emerged – transforming the organization's systems to cater to the distinct needs of various customer personas. With diverse interactions within the running community, the task was to seamlessly align technology and customer experiences. 


Together, Icreon and NYRR worked on understanding the different customer journeys so that the team could build personalized, meaningful experiences for runners across the globe.


The Solution: Creating Best-in-class Digital Running Experience 


Working collaboratively, the focus shifted towards designing personalized, meaningful journeys for runners worldwide. NYRR aimed to create a top-tier digital running experience while implementing a 1:1 personalization engine. The goal was to leverage technology for both and offer tailored experiences for active runners, marathon participants, families, and more. With the ability to now bring in data points from FRED – transactions, race history, and different touchpoints for individual members – Icreon’s new task became developing a way to harness the data and start iteratively infusing personalization points into digital experiences.  


Through whiteboarding sessions, Icreon’s team began mapping out the different journeys' runners go through. In parallel, the team started conceptualizing how we can leverage technology to create 1:1 customer experience. With this new initiative, Icreon knew NYRR would need more than a traditional content management system - they needed a Digital Experience Manager that could integrate with the organization’s pre-existing systems.


Enabling a 1:1 relationship with the member was the end goal. So, Icreon defined Sitecore as the platform of choice that could connect the dots from events to volunteers, to FRED, to real time race tracking, delivering true personalized experiences.  


The Result: Sitecore-Powered Personalization Yields Dynamic 1:1 Customer Relationships


The decision to integrate Sitecore XM and Sitecore XP as the chosen platform enabled seamless connections between events, volunteers, FRED, real-time race tracking, and more. This transformation ushered in an era of dynamic personalized experiences, effectively strengthening NYRR's relationship with its diverse running community.

Client Testimonial

“Working with Icreon has allowed us to make our processes more efficient, while at the same time, and most importantly, providing a more personalized experience to our members.”

Fred Lebow
Founder, New York City Marathon

Capitalizing on a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the NYC Marathon

The Challenge: NYRR's E-commerce Challenge Amidst NYC Marathon's Participation Limit


The NYC Marathon can never exceed 50,000 runners, it’s a limit set by the city. That limitation poses a unique challenge for NYRR - how can we create growth opportunities as a business without increasing race capacity?


Tasked with the challenge, Icreon teams utilized the findings from their previous engagement of re-designing the customer experience. Icreon concluded that, for most runners, the NYC Marathon is a one-in-a-lifetime experience –one that tourists, casual participants and families want to memorialize. Understanding this customer sentiment, the team set out to re-think their marathon ecommerce strategy.


The Solution: NYRR Reinvents Digital Engagement to Maximize NYC Marathon's Potential


Historically, the commerce function of NYRR’s business has been the purchase of races. We wanted to change that by expanding our CX strategy to create ‘digital experiences’. Instead of just participating in the marathon – what if a runner could buy virtual training sessions or classes leading up to the marathon and photos of running the marathon?


With Sitecore XM already being used for marketing purposes, and Sitecore XP being used to create the personalization engines – it was an easy decision to use Sitecore XC for the commerce experience. Through building atop the Sitecore ecosystem, we created a new commerce model that’s constantly, fluidly evolving and changing the way NYRR does business.


The Result: Sitecore-Powered Transformation Spurs Dynamic Growth and Enhanced Customer Engagement 


Icreon's solution allowed NYRR to monetize the NYC Marathon in new, exciting ways. By envisioning commerce in a different way, the team extended the running community without extending physical real estate. Runners are now able to be a part of the marathon experience without limiting themselves to just a single race. 


The new ecommerce engine made the process seamless for customers, allowing them to not just sign up for the race but also make additional purchases that enhanced their overall experience. By offering merchandise and other value-added services, NYRR was able to maximize the value of each runner, leading to an increase in per-customer revenue and significant business growth, despite the cap on the number of participants. This strategy not only drove new revenue streams but also created a more engaging, memorable experience for the runners, reinforcing the NYC Marathon as a bucket-list event.


Furthermore, the new ecommerce model provided NYRR with deeper customer insights, enabling them to continually refine their offerings and marketing strategies.

Run into the Future: Embrace Digital Transformation for Unmatched Experiences