European Running Business Conference connects the running industry

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The third edition of the European Running Business Conference – organised by European Athletics in conjunction with its co-hosting partners World's Sports Group and Marathongruppen – took place in Stockholm, Sweden, from 15-17 September and brought together 300 participants.

No less than 45 speakers, all opinion formers and leaders in athletics organisations or within the running industry, were among the guests invited to share their expertise and experiences,

“We, European Athletics, created the European Running Business Conference for you to connect and network. You are the running movement,” commented European Athletics CEO Christian Milz. “Through running we can achieve a better self and a better society.”

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“Starting from 2025, we will have the European Running Championships in spring. This will be a very good investment for the cities organising the championships that will have tangible and intangible benefits” added Milz.

During the first day in Swedish capital, participants could choose between four different topics: trail, ultra and marathon running; timing and registrations; race technology and a case study of Swedish mass participation events in the morning with the themes extended in the afternoon.

Among the high-profile speakers were the World Athletics Director of Competitions and Events Jakob Larsen, the general manager at Spartan Trail Mariano Alvarez, World's Sports Group CEO Charlotte Melchert and Swedish Mass Participation & Sport Event Association President Staffan Movin.

The second day saw high level presentations from industry leaders including Prague International Marathon Managing Director Carlo Capalbo, Valencia Marathon Race Director and Association of International Marathons President Paco Borao and Golazo Group CEO Bob Verbeeck, the latter a former European indoor 3000m champion.

‘How disruption can be something positive?’ was a pertinent topic in the post-pandemic world and addressed by the CEO of running industry research and education advocates Mass Participation World Chris Robb.

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“During the last years, runners started to run slower because they enjoy the experience and don’t care about the time. After the pandemic, we have now to rebuild the trust of the participants to join a mass participation event. We need to collaborate for a rebirth,” commented Robb.

The prestige of the European Running Business Conference was further emphasised by the presence of the former mayor of Prague Adriana Krnáčová who discussed, ‘capital and destination cities as our hosts’.

Mastercard Data & Services Vice President Beatrice Olsson Fahlberg explained the need to understand the spending of runners and associated tourists during events.

Charities and fundraising were discussed by Clara Miret and Marc Freudweiler from GivenGain before Sveriges Television (Swedish TV) Head of Sport Åsa Edlund Jönsson talked about Generation Z (people born from 1997-2012) and related media trends.

“Gen Z never lived without internet or smartphone. They want highlights, spectacular stuff, must-sees. Links are useful because they don’t want to look for things, they just want to click on the link and have instantly what they need,” commented Jönsson.

European Athletics Head of Development Marko Vasic looked at repricing strategies and the need for events and organisations being, “more financially solid in the coming years”.

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The role of the marketplaces, every runner is a champion, and what works and what doesn’t were the topics address Charlotte Melchert and Virgil Andrew of the World’s Sports Group and also Claudio Zappetti, the Sales Director of AI company Pica

World Athletics Road Running Manager Alessio Punzi gave updates about the global governing body’s strategies and initiatives in this area of the sport which was supplemented by presentations from Abbott World Marathon Majors Head of Partnerships Scott Cassin and the SuperHalfs Managing Director Sašo Belovski.

The final day on Saturday focused on content as the driver in a transforming world and participants could choose between race organisation, TV and digital content, diversity and links within the running industry and building links with the local community as topics to focus upon.

The European Running Business Conference formally finished at lunchtime on Saturday, but many participants ran the Ramboll Stockholm Half Marathon later that day and got first-hand experience of an event organised by Event Partner Marathongruppen.

In the wake of the challenges of the last two years, both during and in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, European Athletics Head of Development Marko Vasic extolled the virtues of bringing the running industry together again in the Swedish capital.

“We are confident that our running industry will be a leader once more and show the path to a more social and healthier world built through active sports participation and personal excellence,” commented Vasic.

“We are back to running and togetherness and our sport and our industry will provide excellence to millions across Europe,” he added.

The full programme for the 3rd European Running Business Conference can be found here as well as full details, including biographies, of all the speakers.

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