Case Study: New York Road Runners

An organization-wide events and operations management platform that powers the largest and most complex marathon in the world.

the organization

New York Road Runners is the world's largest running organization. Every year, hundreds of thousands of runners participate in over 60 yearly races, including 5 half marathons and the world's largest marathon - the New York City Marathon. What started out as a simple running club over 30 years ago has transformed into a leading brand in the athletic events space.

the challenge

Over 60K+ runners participate in the 26.2 mile marathon, and many more sign up for the lottery to be selected. With weekly races and other marquee events, the organization needed a better way to track their operations.

Everything from race details to volunteer management to runner's bib assignments has to be coordinated in unison to ensure races can be held without a hitch. On top of that, each race generates a mountain of useful information from runners and advertisers that NYRR uses to prepare for upcoming events.

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The end product is a fully integrated, omnichannel-driven system that handles 50 transactions per second, and serves more than 430k+ people annually. To this day, the solution still helps the world ‘run’.

Tools & Platforms
the solution

Development of NYRR's new enterprise system, dubbed FRED2 in homage to its founder, was built using multiple technologies to be able to host all operational workflows in a single instance. The core backend system was built in .NET to handle day-to-day operations., the public-facing web property, was built in Drupal and handles a small part of interaction with the backend. To increase performance and scale without adding too much infrastructural overhead, the system uses Varnish and Memcached.

The system holds sensitive medical information about runners and event organizers, all of which are stored securely by the backend of FRED2. Thirty years of prior race data have been cleansed and migrated into FRED2 so that the organization can have a single source for all of their operational data. Key settings in the system are built flexibly so that users can change them quickly. For example, one setting allows runners who've run nine previous races to pre-qualify for the NYC Marathon.

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