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Why an IT services firm sponsors the New York City Marathon

Jen A. Miller | Oct. 5, 2016
Typically, major marathons are sponsored by financial services companies not IT services companies. Here’s a look at why TCS decided to sponsor the New York City Marathon and why it’s working.

While the marathon is what King calls "the crown jewel" of the partnership in New York, TCS doesn't just pay the NYRR to tack the company name onto the marathon. It's a year-round partnership that has included app development and technological improvements.

In 2014, NYRR launched a marathon-specific app that not only engages runners but their family and friends by letting them track runners (I ran the race for the first time that year, and my friends could see how I was doing from the comfort of their couches, and my mom knew when I'd be coming up to where she was waiting on the sidelines of the race).

In 2015, the app had more than 272,000 downloads, and saw a 700 percent increase of usage on the day of the marathon. It was the number one sports app in the Apple store on the day of the marathon last year, says King.

For the 2016 race, the app will have improvements, including the capability to automatically update a runner positions rather than making users refresh the app to see where their runner is, and the capability to track up to 20 runners instead of 10.

They've also created a race specific app for the United Airlines NYC half, which is held in March.

"The joint objective with NYRR is to make it the most technologically advanced marathon in the world for runners and spectators," says King. TCS is also working on apps that bring an element of augmented or virtual reality to the expo and "maybe even to the telecast to push the envelope there."

In the next two months, NYRR also plans to release a new year-round app that's not race specific. "It's an opportunity to engage with us, register for races, get results, and build on that for different phases, connect to training and other content," says Michael Capiraso, president and CEO of NYRR.

During the 2016 marathon, TCS says it plans to introduce a new tracking device that will analyze performance metrics, says King. "Some of the athletes are going to be running the race to introduce what's capable of running technology in the field of performance metrics beyond what average pace per mile you're running and your heart rate but all the other data that's available," says King.

The data, he says, will help runners improve gait and stride. He wouldn't say which athletes would be using the new technology, but that he expects it to be a mix of elite athletes and members of the TCS's team running the race that day.

Aside from apps, TCS has also helped NYRR create new technology for their youth running efforts, helping them upgrade their software systems in all schools that are part of those programs so teachers can better track and reward progress.


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