At the 147th Belmont Stakes, American Pharoah entered history books as one of the best runners of all time–horse or human! He won the first Triple Crown in nearly 40 years by a whopping 5 ½ lengths.

Aside from appreciating the pure speed and talent of a runner like American Pharoah, event directors can take a few pages out of the Triple Crown book. Creating a race series can be a genius way to build participation. It creates loyalty, encouraging repeat registrations, and can also be used as a platform for cross-promotion with other events.

To give a shout out to American Pharoah, as well as help you spark some race management ideas for your own event series, here are 5 ½ successful Triple Crown road races:

  1. Louisville Triple Crown: We’ll start by featuring a race in one of the Triple Crown cities. The Louisville Triple Crown of RunningSM presented by Novo Nordisk includes the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic, Rodes City Run 10K, and the Papa John’s 10 Miler. To be a Triple Crown champ, runners must finish all three events in the series, and will receive a special Triple Crown T-shirt. (There is no additional entry fee.) Race officials recently announced the dates for the 2016 race series: the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic will be held on February 27th, the Rodes City Run 10K on March 12th, and the Papa John’s 10 Miler on March 26th.
  1. ViaSat Half Marathon Triple Crown Series: This running series is all about gorgeous scenery. Completing the three spectacular coastal courses of the Carlsbad Half Marathon, La Jolla Half Marathon, and America’s Finest City Half Marathon will earn participants a Southern California trifecta. These three 13.1s form the ViaSat Half Marathon Triple CrownSM and finishers will receive a medal that’s more attractive than American Pharoah’s forelock.

For 2015, the first two events of this Triple Crown have been completed (the Carlsbad Half was held in January and the La Jolla Half Marathon in April), and America’s Finest City Half Marathon will wrap up the series in August.

  1. Greater L-A Triple Crown 5K Series: A crown for a cause, the Greater L-A Triple Crown 5K Series benefits the Lewiston-Auburn community in Maine, with proceeds supporting the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA, The Fletcher Foundation, and The Bridge Run Foundation.

The three events of the series include the Fit Fest (just past on June 7), Emily’s Run (July 19th), and the Bridge Run (August 23rd). The courses are USATF certified and chip timed, ensuring runners hit their stride right out of the gate.

  1. Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown: Another three-event series with a charitable component is the Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown in Tucson, Arizona. Held to honor the life of Gabe Zimmerman, an avid runner who was killed in the 2011 mass shooting that wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, $10 every registration goes to the Child and Family Resources charity. Designed to both celebrate Gabe’s life and promote a sport he loved so much, this Triple Crown include three runs or walks, of varying distances:
    • May 30, 2015: 9th Annual TMC Meet Me Downtown 5k Night Run and Walk
    • September 7, 2015: 46th Annual TMC Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8-Miler and 5K
    • October 25: 36th Annual TMC Get Moving Tucson Events, which includes a half marathon, 5K, and one-miler

All registrants receive a Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown “Run Tucson” technical shirt, and participants in all three events will receive a special finisher’s award.

  1. Rhodes Races Triple Crown: Held in Rhode Island, this three-part series is scenic and fun. The Triple Crown starts in Downcity Providence (next running is May 1, 2016), followed by the Bristol Half Marathon in Jamestown (June 28, 2015), and the Ocean State Marathon in Narragansett (October 11, 2015).
    Registering for the Triple Crown will get participants a special technical shirt and medal, and the chops to make their friends call them “stallion.”
    5.5 Belmont Stakes” Blue Ribbon Run for Prostate Cancer®: You caught us–this isn’t a Triple Crown running series, hence the ½! But this is a great event and even better cause that kicks off the Belmont Stakes thoroughbred races each year. Taking place at historic Belmont Park (this year’s race date was Sunday, May 31), the 5K ends at the actual finish line of the Belmont Stakes racetrack. Proceeds fund prostate cancer education, support, and screenings, and is truly a one-of-a-kind event.

“This is for the sport,” owner Ahmed Zayat said during the Triple Crown trophy presentation to American Pharoah*, which reminds us so much of what we hear from race directors and their participants. It’s not for glory or cash; it’s for the sport too. So here’s to all the runners and organizers out there on those furlongs.

*Source: Wall Street Journal, American Pharoah Runs to Triple Crown Glory.”

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