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Sponsorship and Ultrarunning: Towards a New Professionalism

Recently (one of our favorite resources) posted an editorial in the AJW Taproom regarding the future of Ultrarunning. Nice job Logan! You’re wise beyond your years dude! (Check out the editorial at

We wanted to expand on this discussion since we made it our mission at Presidio Sports Management (PSM) to help elite men and women in endurance sports reach a new level of professionalism in every interaction with brands and sponsors. We take the development of the sport very seriously. Since PSM is the only management firm representing ultrarunners (that we know about) we realize how high the stakes are for us to do this right for the sport. We want to raise the level of professionalism in a way that’s in line with the history and values of ultrarunning while being open-minded about the inevitable growth of the sport and the burgeoning opportunities available to athletes.

Let’s use sponsorships as an example of the growth needed in ultrarunning. Agreeing on a number of valid points mentioned in Logan’s post, we see a large disparity in the content of sponsorship agreements across brands.  

Part of the problem that we have observed since launching PSM is the lack of a clear industry standard in contracts. The only real “standards” that we have seen are derived from each individual company and the employee(s) within the company advocating for sponsorship and by the athlete themselves. Also at play is the athlete’s ability and comfort in marketing him or her self. This approach leads to mixed results with success hinging upon the negotiation prowess and business sense/experience of each individual athlete.  These mixed results also lead to mixed expectations from sponsors that lead to missed marketing opportunities for athletes.

From a sports marketing perspective, presenting yourself to a sponsor is just the tip of the iceberg for athletes. What about social media presence, blogging, or other ways to show influence, character, charisma and personality to sponsors? Athletes can be more to a brand than a simple marketing tool. A committed marketing person or team (along with a budget to properly 'sponsor' an athlete) can activate an athlete in greater ways to garner the highest value from the sponsorship. But as mentioned above, this is all negotiated…or should be.

We think that professional representation allows for more of a collective bargaining approach thereby leveling (and ultimately raising) the playing field by creating and applying industry standards that serve our athletes and the sport. This is where we feel that our expertise and market intelligence at Presidio Sports Management comes in. These companies are looking for exposure, increased awareness and ROI (return on investment). We know that athletes can deliver ROI and sponsors know it too. We also know that the “industry” can do a better job of sponsoring athletes in a way that allows them to race at their best while growing the brands that have invested in them and PSM can help them do just that.

This is truly an exciting time for the ultra and trail running community and we look forward to helping it grow with integrity.