Back in February we announced we were working with OC Sport to promote the Geneva Marathon to a wider audience outside the immediate Geneva area. Last weekend that came to its culmination when we took a small group of journalists and influencers to experience the city and run a race. The weekend was a great success, down in no small part to the excellent organisation of OC Sport, and some rather superb weather.
Unlike many marathons, Geneva put on not 1 but 17 different races over the weekend – including races for children, wheelchairs, women-only, nordic walkers and a marathon relay. There was a superb atmosphere around the city, especially at the inclusive and very central race village right on the lake, with thousands of people supporting runners of all ages and abilities across the weekend.
“This has to go down as the most successful edition of the Harmony Geneva Marathon for UNICEF yet. Some 16,000 competitors from all over the world have experienced the best of running in this incredible city and the surrounding countryside.” (Race Director, Ben Chandelier)
Coming from the UK it was fascinating to make the comparison with races here and how running culture differs in this part of Europe:
- The children’s races were an integral part of the weekend, they were well supported and fantastically fast!
- The event took over the heart of the city, based as it was in the Jarden Anglais right by the lake and the spectacular jet d’eau (water spout).
- The half marathon was considerably more popular than the marathon – a trend we’ve also seen in the UK despite the continued popularity of London and new big city races like Birmingham in 2017.
- The relay marathon was a strange but superb revelation – there was no better sight all weekend than teams of between 4-6 people all crossing the line arm in arm.
For our part, we took 4 journalists from the UK and Germany and 2 influencers to Geneva for the weekend. Not only did they each take part in a race (and in the case of Julie Creffield 2 races!) they also experienced the best of what the Geneva area has to offer including great food, other sports (we tried yoga and stand-up paddle-boarding) and the views of the lake on one side and Mont Blanc on the other from the top of Mont Saleve.
The races and experiences around Geneva are great inspiration for pieces we’ll soon see in publications like Women’s Health, Men’s Running, Athletics Weekly and Running Das Laufmagazin. While we remain firm supporters of traditional media we also believe in the power of engaging with influencers with wide and authentic reach into specific communities. These two groups brought a very different but complimentary approach to the event:
- The longer, well-illustrated articles in magazines are well suited to travel-led features at the point runners are being inspired to find their own challenge and starting to consider what and where that might be.
- As well as their direct and authentic reach via social media to a relevant audience, influencers bring a fantastic immediacy and creativity. Susie and Julie were posting to their large audiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over the weekend, and producing superb engagement.
- It is possible for ‘traditional media’ to bridge the gap, as Athletics Weekly showed, live tweeting from the races, not only bringing people the results instantly but giving them a flavour of what the weekend was like to ordinary runners.
Below is a flavour of some of the great content our group produced over the weekend.
We can’t wait to see the articles about Geneva and the races in print, and to working more with OC Sport to bring Geneva to an even wider international audience.
And if you’re looking for a marathon for spring 2017, or any other distance for that matter, we would recommend looking no further than Geneva – Europe’s most beautiful and welcoming running festival.