MPA Announces Partnership with TCS

Mass Participation Asia Announces Partnership with Tata Consultancy Services

Technology giant will be presenting a case study on their involvement as sponsors of mass participation sports at the upcoming conference

SINGAPORE (26 October 2018) – Mass Participation Asia (MPA), the region’s only conference dedicated to the education and unity of the mass participation sports industry, is pleased to announce a new partnership with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), one of the world’s largest IT services and consulting firms.

TCS partners with 12 of the world’s largest and most renowned distance running events, including the TCS New York Marathon and Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, as title sponsor and/or mobile race app partner. In parallel, TCS is committed to health and well-being and has developed award-winning employee and CSR programs focused on running.

“The TCS story is a fantastic example of a global strategy that presents many opportunities to integrate and showcase one of the company’s key services, technology, into each partnership. Their staff engagement program is an excellent example of how sponsors can leverage mass participation to improve the health and wellbeing of their workforce,” said Chris Robb, Founder & CEO of Mass Participation Asia.

TCS will be sharing their case study as part of the upcoming MPA conference on 10-11 December 2018 at the Hilton Singapore. The segment will be co-presented by Sean Davidson (Head of Marketing & Communications, Asia Pacific) and Michelle Taylor (Head of Global Sports Sponsorships).

“TCS is excited to join Mass Participation Asia 2018 and share our marathon sponsorship, corporate fitness, and CSR stories,” said Sean Davidson, Head of Marketing & Communications, TCS Asia Pacific. “We look forward to joining fellow industry experts to discuss tech, branding, social causes, and fitness in the mass participation running event space”.

For more information on MPA, visit

From Passion to Profit at Mass Participation Asia 2018


A few weeks ago, we shared a video about the challenges of transforming a “passion project” into a commercially sustainable business. We’re delighted to announce the details of “From Passion to Profit” at this year’s Mass Participation Asia Conference.

We are incredibly fortunate to have internationally acclaimed 4-time TEDx speaker and mentor Paul Dunn as part of the program on Day 1. Paul has build and sold a number of business and was instrumental in building Hewlett Packard in Australia.

On day 2 a, one-hour workshop “A Crash Course for Event Entrepreneurs” will be presented by industry entrepreneurs Sam Middlehurst (Co-Founder of The Music Run) and Andrew O’Loughlin (Experience Designer with over 20 years of experience in mass participation).

Click HERE for a full-sized image. Get your delegate pass HERE.

Mass Participation Asia Announces Partnership with Sportcal

Mass Participation Asia Announces Partnership with Sportcal

Sportcal recognised as Research and Media Partner at upcoming industry conference.

SINGAPORE (9 August 2018) – Mass Participation Asia (MPA), the region’s only conference dedicated to the education and unity of the mass participation sports industry, is pleased to announce its partnership with Sportcal, a world-leading provider of sports marketing intelligence, headquartered in the United Kingdom.

The partnership was formed out of the two organisation’s shared objectives of educating and empowering the sports industry.

“Over its course of three years, MPA has quickly become a hotbed for the presentation of new ideas, findings, and statistics, especially white papers. Through this partnership, we are excited to be able to have Sportcal’s intelligence and data that would certainly add depth to our content,” said Chris Robb, Founder & CEO of the MPA conference.

Chris Kropielnicki, Sportcal’s Head of Events, said that their research has shown an explosion in the number of new sports events taking place around the world and of the holistic impacts they deliver.

“A clear trend has emerged in the mass participation market whereby event hosts are developing and organising more events and formats, which allow the general public to participate alongside elite athletes on a regular basis. These events not only promote tourism and drive economic impact, but also contribute towards the objective of many cities to improve and promote healthy and active lifestyles”, said Kropielnicki.

Past highlights from previous editions of the MPA conference include analyses on China and India, as well as in-depth presentations on industry trends, highlights, and case studies.

For more information on MPA, visit

About Mass Participation Asia

Mass Participation Asia (MPA) is Asia’s only mass participation conference with key objectives of fostering collaboration and driving best practice.

Into its third edition, MPA returns to Singapore in December 2018 for its third edition, themed “Engage, Evolve & Excel” where delegates can expect a host of curated speakers, content and networking opportunities. For more information, visit

About Sportcal

Sportcal is a world-leading provider of sports market intelligence, supplying data and expert analysis through its independent daily news service, intelligence centres, bespoke research, event studies and Insight magazine. It serves as a vital daily tool for executives in sports marketing, sponsorship, rights-owning bodies, media, government and event management. Sportcal boasts the most experienced editorial team across the global sport industry. Combined with expert in-house analysts, the company supports its clients with critical business decisions, planning of sports events and forecasting future trends. features three Intelligence Centres; Sportcal Media, Sportcal Sponsorship and Sportcal Events, providing a holistic overview on the business of sport in one platform.

Mass Participation Asia Adds Innovation Showcase and Expo to its 3rd Edition in Singapore

There is no doubt that mass participation events are experiencing pivotal times as they embrace technology and innovation. The rise of AI and product development has led to enhanced event experiences, helped to ease the role of organisers, and most importantly, provide better and safer participation.

From inventions that help athletes train all year round and seamlessly track their progress to ones that enable blind runners to compete, to those that help shape participants’ (and their fans’) experiences  as well as innovations that look to provide athletes with the most accurate data to help them go faster, we are witnessing every facet of the industry attempting to improve and evolve with the times.

While innovation continues to take place on a daily basis, not every idea or concept receives the attention of decision makers or customers in the industry. Recognising this, Mass Participation Asia (MPA) will be adding an Innovation Showcase and Expo (ISE) to its 2018 edition in Singapore.

The ISE is the perfect opportunity for innovators from both within and beyond mass participation to get discovered, get feedback, and showcase their product, service, or new development to the right target audience. What’s more, ISE participants will be given the opportunity to present their showcase in 10-minute segments onstage at the conference on 10 and 11 December 2018.

There are only five slots available at the inaugural ISE and only shortlisted innovations will be selected to present at MPA. For more information and to register your interest, please sign up HERE.

Mass Participation Asia Announces Partnership with MYLAPS

Mass Participation Asia Announces Partnership with MYLAPS

Timing giants come onboard as the Official Timing Partner at MPA.

SINGAPORE (27 June 2018) – MYLAPS, renowned for their global timing expertise will be integrating their annual conference with the upcoming Mass Participation Asia (MPA), the region’s only conference dedicated to facilitating collaboration and best practice in the mass participation sports industry.

MYLAPS is the second partnership announced by MPA in the span of two weeks, joining America’s leading running trade organisation, RunningUSA. The partnership will not only recognise MYLAPS as the conference’s Official Timing Partner but also include their presentations as part of the two-day programme on 10-11 December 2018 at the Hilton Singapore.

“There is no doubt that our organisations share many synergies and as industry leaders, we are excited to be able to present some amazing findings from decades of experience that will hopefully facilitate the growth of mass participation in Asia,” said Chris Robb, Founder & CEO of MPA.

MYLAPS will be joining a burgeoning list of impressive names set to present at MPA including McLaren Group, parkrun, Octagon, and ACTIVE Network amongst others.

“MYLAPS is very excited to be able to partner with Mass Participation Asia moving forward. Chris and his team have created a platform that allows industry stakeholders to connect and collaborate on both the opportunities and common challenges throughout the industry. The annual MPA conference provides a great venue for all of us to share experiences, gain knowledge, and develop new ideas to continue to improve mass participation events throughout the region”, said Scott Friderichs, General Manager of MYLAPS Asia.

For more information on MPA, visit

About Mass Participation Asia

Mass Participation Asia (MPA) returns to Singapore in December 2018 for its third edition. Once again, delegates can expect a host of curated speakers, content and networking opportunities in an effort to foster collaboration and drive best practice across the mass participation industry. For more information, visit


MYLAPS helps athletes, timers and events to create the ultimate sports experience for participants, followers and sponsors. Every year, MYLAPS captures the performance of over 20 million people all over the world. And turns their data into insights, progress and fun. We offer them a better understanding of their performance and help them with their best next steps. Founded in 1982, we have revolutionized the world of sports timing with groundbreaking innovations and set the standard ever since. Our products and platforms are used at professional events like the Olympics and Hong Kong Marathon to countless local events around the corner.

More info on


Mass Participation Asia Announces Partnership with Running USA


Mass Participation Asia Announces Partnership with Running USA

Industry leaders to join forces in a continued effort to foster collaboration and drive best practice in the recreational running industry in Asia; Registration opens next week for MPA’s third annual conference in Singapore


SINGAPORE (12 June 2018) – Mass Participation Asia (MPA), the region’s only conference dedicated to the education and unity of the mass participation sports industry, is pleased to announce a new partnership with Running USA, the trade organization for the sport of running in the United States.

On Monday, 18 June, MPA opens registration for its third annual conference, which will be held in Singapore on 10-11 December 2018, a day after the iconic Singapore Marathon (learn more). This will be the second time the event will be hosted in Singapore.

In its first two years, MPA was attended by over 300 delegates and 90 speakers from 16 countries. MPA is led by Chris Robb, an industry veteran of the endurance sports space who founded the conference with the goal of facilitating collaboration and driving best practices within the mass participation industry. Robb also recently featured as a keynote speaker at Running USA 2018 in Austin, Texas.

“My tremendous experience in Bangkok last winter and our ongoing collaboration with Chris Robb have made this partnership possible, and we believe it can be extremely beneficial for both MPA and Running USA,” said Christine Bowen, Vice President of Programming, Operations, and Partnerships at Running USA on her experience at MPA 2017. “Our stateside running industry has so much to share in terms of education and best practices and we want to encourage our members to learn from and support their global counterparts.”

You can read more about Bowen’s experience at MPA and global market trendlines. She will serve as a member of the advisory committee for the 2018 MPA event.

Robb was a keynote speaker at Running USA 2018 in Austin, Texas and is a veteran of the global endurance sports space.

“Mass Participation Asia is delighted to partner with Running USA to provide the opportunity for delegates to learn from the vastly experienced American Industry. I loved the experience of attending and speaking at Running USA in Austin and was delighted to discover such a spirit of sharing and collaboration across the industry which is one of my goals for MPA.”

Under the partnership, Running USA will support programming efforts for the 2018 MPA conference on the topics of sponsorship and marketing, the two organizations will collaborate on a comparative research study. For more information, visit


About Mass Participation Asia

Mass Participation Asia (MPA) returns to Singapore in December 2018 for its third edition. Once again, delegates can expect a host of curated speakers, content and networking opportunities in an effort to foster collaboration and drive best practice across the mass participation industry. For more information, visit

About Running USA

Running USA is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization devoted to improving the status and experience of distance running and racing in the United States through collective marketing and promotions, information and communications within the industry and to the national media, services to events and industry members, and the development of American world class stars. It seeks the advancement of the sport and the provision of value to each of its members’ events and businesses. For more information, visit

Permit Denied


Approval to stage an event is one of the key assets of any rights holder/event owner and the refusal of a permit creates significant risks for multiple parties including not only the rights holder but also sponsors and of course participants.

From discussions with many event organisers and my personal experience, it seems that generally permits are getting harder to obtain and in many cities, more permits are required than in the past. This seems to be the combination of increased demand on venues from mass participation sports events and other community events together with increasingly stringent regulations from authorities.

Approval processes seem to vary hugely from country to country and often within cities and towns in the same country. Whilst many cities embrace mass participation events and recognise the value that they bring both in terms of economic impact and community engagement, feedback seems to suggest that many still see them as an annoyance and accordingly are in no hurry to facilitate the approval process.

One of the most common industry complaints I hear is the time it takes for formal approval and a lack of clarity with regard to exactly what is required to get final sign off. In many cities, the actual permit is not issued until a few weeks or days before the event. I have personally experienced a number of nerve-wracking occasions in Asia where the formal permit has only been provided the day before the event. An unfortunate by-product of this kind of situation is the unwanted distraction and crucial time wasted in the final event implementation stage.

A fantastic example of a city that has clear guidelines and processes in place and takes a collaborative approach to the permit process is Sydney. A legacy of the hugely successful 2000 Olympics was the continuation of the Central Sydney Operations Group (CSOG) which was initially formed to facilitate inter-agency collaboration. CSOG meets on a monthly basis and events have the opportunity to present their initial plans to all major government agencies and key city stakeholders such as the Opera House in one room. My experience over many years was a spirit of cooperation and collaboration whereby those present would help identify potential issues and work together to find practical solutions to help facilitate the approval process.

Whilst many event focused cities around the world have a similar “one-stop shop” model my sense is that the majority have a more ad-hoc approach meaning that applicants have to “do the rounds” from agency to agency. Sometimes, especially in developing markets, the requirements and guidelines are unclear and seem to vary from event to event.

Sometimes a global, regional or local event may add another layer to the permit process such as the unfortunate impact of a tragic accident at a dance party in Taiwan where coloured dye ignited and 15 people died. The knock-on impact meant that IMG were forced to cancel or postpone a number of their Color Run events in Asia and had to go through a rigorous testing and permit process before resuming.

At the upcoming Mass Participation Asia conference in Bangkok on 3 and 4 April we are delighted to have Jack Caress, CEO of Pacific Sports in the USA, joining us to discuss “The Biggest and Least Talked about Secret of the Mass Participation Industry – Permits”.

I recently spoke to Jack and he shared a number of thought provoking questions and observations. Although Jack is a veteran of the industry with a wealth of experience he would be delighted to hear from both rights holders and venues on some of their experiences and challenges via a short survey. Please click here.

Aside from some of the points that I have already made, Jack highlights a potential challenge for even long established events. “Events that have had a long history at a site can be susceptible to new requirements for fees, insurance, and sponsor restrictions which can sometimes have a significant impact on commercial viability”.

With a charity angle to many events and in a world where there seems to be a growing desire for people to create a giving impact, Jack poses an interesting question: “Is there an advantage in your markets for the not-for-profit or charitable cause events over those that are for-profit? Are the permits different?”.

Whilst the focus of permits is often related to those issued by government or city authorities an area that is equally important is that of the host venue. Jack believes that “Increasingly, there are opportunities for creative long-term strategies or approaches to venue permits that help to secure the value of event properties”.

With the pace of industry consolidation seemingly gathering momentum, the importance of permits highlights the key dimension of their intrinsic balance sheet value in addition to the already crucial annual approval.

It would seem that the best outcomes for a more streamlined and cohesive approvals process are likely to be achieved by collaboration between the industry and various government agencies to help facilitate a “one stop approach” wherever possible.

For more details on how to hear Jack Caress and an exciting line up of almost 50 speakers at Mass Participation Asia, visit

What the Participants Told Us


One key to success in any business is the ability to listen to your customers.

Listening to participants was one of the central themes in an interesting article by Diccon Loy titled ‘Participation Innovation’ that I shared last week.

A great example of listening to participants and turning an industry model on its head recently took place in the race photography sector.

For a long time, participants have complained that official photos are too expensive and take too long to be available. To be fair, the industry has evolved tremendously. I remember moonlighting for one of the early players in Australia, who weeks after an event, used to mail out thousands of prints to participants on a sale or return basis. The process was hugely labour intensive and costly – hence the end price to the consumer was not cheap.

With the advent of digital technology and especially digital recognition combined with some fantastic innovation, key suppliers such as Marathon Photos from New Zealand make photos as well as short videos available within a few hours of the race but still at a relatively expensive price point. I have sometimes wondered, albeit with no clear understanding of the business model and the significant costs of software development, if the sector may have perhaps missed a trick in the digital era by not reducing pricing in exchange for volume.

Combining the consumer feedback with the desire for sponsors to engage in meaningful ways with participants and the massive power of social sharing, Pic2Go, an Israeli company that appears to be rapidly spreading across the globe have significantly disrupted the industry by creating an automated race photo sharing technology and a model whereby participants get the photos for free.

I recently spoke to CEO, Eitan Hefetz“Instead of the traditional race photo model, I believe race organizers should offer their participants the level of service they expect to get these days – sharing their race photos, fast and free”. 

“By adding sponsor branding (to the photos) and allowing almost-instant uploads to social media, events can generate hundreds of thousands of organic impressions within 24 hours after the race, and a massive social engagement around the photos. This also provides full visibility on the generated impact and easy ROI measuring which sponsors can look forward to.” 

The traditional business model generally benefits both the supplier and the event with the rights holder being paid either an up-front fee or royalty on each photo sold or sometimes a combination of both. With the Pic2Go model, the opportunity can be sold to sponsors as part of their core investment or potentially allocated to their activation budget. The costs can even be absorbed by the race organiser. Other suppliers have now also developed a similar sponsor integration model.

The Pic2Go example is one of many where mass participation sports have evolved tremendously in today’s digital age. Participants are more aware than ever thanks to the internet, social media and informative wearables, events are embracing technology such as live mapping and major global brands in the technology space such as TCS and HERE Maps are partnering with events.

Innovation continues to happen on a daily basis and I am personally very excited for what the next ten years and beyond could bring – whether it is a new event concept, an app or technology that would turn the industry on its head or something as simple as a design tweak that could save events hundreds of thousands of dollars or man hours.

The Pic2Go technology will be on display as part of the upcoming Mass Participation Asia (MPA) conference and Eitan will also be presenting on the opportunities of combining the participants’ desire to share their race experience with technology for a more effective and engaging sponsorship.

149.7 Metres – The Difference Between Good and Bad Publicity


Last week, a friend in London sent me a recent BBC article “Great Scottish Run half-marathon course found to be short”.

It highlighted the complexities of delivering successful mass participation events, especially in the heart of major cities, as well as the power of social media and wearables to keep organisers accountable.

The organiser of the event, The Great Run Company, is one of the most experienced in the business, having been around for over 30 years and delivered events for over 4 million participants. So if such an industry veteran can experience an issue, there are clearly potential lessons for others.

The event, held back in October, was won in what at first appeared to be a course and Scottish record time by Olympian, Callum Hawkins, and no doubt hundreds of runners also thought they had set personal and season’s bests.

Questions were posed soon after the race by participants who indicated that their Garmins and other devices showed the course to be about 200m short. Chatter soon started on the likes of Facebook and Strava and the organisers committed to re-measure the course – something that would have had to happen anyway due to a record being broken. The re-measure was only able to be done in late January.

The miscalculation of the distance was down to human error, with two problems identified. A small section of the prescribed route was not followed correctly on race day and in addition, when the course measure was conducted, the roads were unclosed due to essential utilities works. It is easier for measurers to take the exact line athletes will run when the roads are closed.

Measurement of road courses for running events is a complex process that has evolved significantly over the past 30 years. With such huge bonuses at stake these days for breaking of records, it is an even more critical component.

I was lucky enough to be involved in the route measure for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Marathon. A police escort helped close roads, often ridden in the wrong direction. One of the highlights was cycling diagonally across Sydney Harbour Bridge devoid of vehicles apart from a long line of stationary traffic on the lane closest to the Opera House. We were greeted with a mixture of cheers and jeers and no doubt a good few people were left bewildered. The measure could clearly have not been accomplished without the support of a number of city agencies.

So what are some of the lessons that we can take from the events in Scotland:

  • Collaboration is key: for the safety of the measurers and to ensure accuracy, the support of city agencies to close roads or provide police escorts makes a challenging task far easier
  • Identify every possible way to eradicate the risk of human error: participants going the wrong way is almost always the result of human error. Look at ways to reduce this both during course set-up and whilst the race is on
  • Monitor your social media channels
  • Have a clear crisis communication plan that outlines how you will communicate clearly and in a timely manner with your stakeholders. This is likely to include sponsors, host city and of course participants
  • Try to resolve and clarify the issue/s as fast as possible
  • Accept responsibility and apologise, as happened with the Great Scottish Run.
  • Appoint a certified course measurer and provide them with the appropriate information and environment to conduct the measure
  • Do a thorough debrief and identify how processes and procedures can be improved

Ultimately in this day and age, there is nowhere to hide as problems are aired and scrutinised in real time on social media. Robust and detailed event planning delivers many benefits including the opportunity to minimise the risk of negative publicity.

I believe that there are huge opportunities for our industry to collaborate and share best practices globally. It is one of the reasons why I started the Mass Participation Asia conference – to bring the industry together and learn from each other. If the operational aspects of such events is relevant to your line of work, do come along to the next edition this 3 and 4 April in Bangkok. Details can be found here: