Runners at the starting gate of the Long Beach Marathon. Photo courtesy of Run Racing.
The annual Long Beach Marathon will have a new high-flying title sponsor for at least the next few years as JetBlue Airways and Run Racing announced today that the airline has entered into an agreement to become the namesake of the city’s endurance race.
JetBlue, the largest tenant of Long Beach Airport, has been the official airline of the marathon for over ten years and will replace International City Bank as title-sponsor starting with the 31st edition of the race this coming October. The new deal will run through 2017.
"As one of JetBlue's six focus cities and home to more than 700 crewmembers, Long Beach has been a special place for the airline since we started service here in 2001," said Lou Anthony, JetBlue's general manager at LBG said in a statement. "Over the last 14 years we've worked to be a good corporate citizen in the community by building relationships with fantastic organizations like Run Racing. We are incredibly proud to have the JetBlue name associated with this annual Long Beach tradition."
The bank, which is staying on as a regular sponsor, held that role for the last 14 years but after some internal restructuring, decided to step down as title sponsor. The move opened the door for race organizers to court other companies.
RunRacing, which organizes the Long Beach half and full marathons, made the airline one of the first companies on its list of potential partners. While other large companies like Mercedes were considered, Bob Seagren, President and CEO of Run Racing said that given JetBlue’s longstanding sponsorship of the race made it a natural fit. The fact that Long Beach is a hub for their airline operations was big selling point for both sides.
“That’s probably been the number one priority for us, having a title sponsor that has some kind of a connection to the city of Long Beach,” Seagren said. “That was a prerequisite in our thought process and that’s why we’re so excited that JetBlue stepped up.”
We are so excited to announce our new title sponsor, JetBlue Airways. We are now the JetBlue Long Beach Marathon!Posted by Long Beach Marathon on Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Seagren said that the deal came together over a few months, and now that it’s finalized, the race should benefit from the airline’s national reach. The Long Beach Marathon posted a video to their Facebook page to announce the deal.
“Where having International City Bank was great for so many years, they really don’t market,” Seagren said. “And now, JetBlue, obviously does a lot more advertising and marketing and a lot of it’s going to focused around the marathon. It’s really going to give us a lot more exposure than we’ve ever had in the past.”
Seagren said that he’s hopeful that the exposure and credibility that comes along with a brand like JetBlue will lead to an increase in participation. He said that while the half-marathon entries usually hovers around 15,000 runners annually, he’d like to see the same number of entrants into the full-course race.
He added that while the creative art is still a work in progress, the official title will be the JetBlue Long Beach Marathon. The group is working on marketing efforts to play off other hubs that the airport utilizes like Boston, and its exclusive annual marathon held there. The Long Beach to Boston angle could become a reality—for those fast enough—as the Long Beach race is a qualifier for Boston.
The race is expected to draw over 50,000 people to the city during race weekend to participate in the half and full marathons, the new Aquarium of the Pacific 5K and other activities. The JetBlue Long Beach Marathon, which begins and ends in Downtown, is scheduled to take place October 11th.