USA Track & Field is hitting the road to try to take advantage of the passion of the millions of recreational runners in the country.
The governing body will hold a new national road race in the fall, open to both amateur and elite competitors. The 7½-mile event announced Wednesday will have a combined $100,000 purse for the top men and women. Several thousand other entrants, with the demographics sponsors crave, will also take part.
The race is part of a three-year deal between USATF and Neustar, an information services company. It will be called the .US National Road Racing Championships in reference to Neustar's .US domain name.
The date, location and course will be announced in the next few weeks. The unusual 12-kilometer distance was chosen because it's in the middle between 5K events and marathons — and for the simple fact that it is unique.
Marathons and other shorter events have become big business, attracting participants that many companies want to target.
"These are business owners; these are professionals," Neustar senior vice president Alex Berry said. "These are folks that are college educated; they have advanced degrees."
But USATF had been missing out — the governing body had never before fully owned-and-operated a road race. The deal with Neustar allows USATF to bring in new revenue and to market itself to amateur runners who may associate the organization only with competitions like the 100-meter dash, said CEO Max Siegel, who was hired in April.
USATF says the deal is its biggest single-event sponsorship in more than a decade.
"It has been a high priority of ours for people to make the connection between USA Track & Field, as an organization and a federation, to lifestyle running," Siegel said. "So it's been a challenge, but it's something we're aware of and addressing in a very deliberate way."