A web-based training program for aspiring and veteran marathoners and half-marathoners, the Runner's World Challenge was launched in the July 2009 issue of the magazine with an announcement that its staffers would take part in it, training and running alongside readers -- both virtually and literally. Online, a robust forum (where readers and editors talked nutrition, injury prevention, etc.) supplied support and knowledge, while interactive training logs let participants track their progress. Offline, more than 600 readers to date have raced with RW editors at marathons and half-marathons in Cincinnati, Richmond, San Francisco and Toronto.
Early revenue from the program (some 1,500 readers have paid as much as $295 to take part so far) suggests that Runner's World, in devising a new editorial franchise, may have also launched a significant new service business. But the biggest pay-off for now is in the message that the Runner's World Challenge sends about brand integrity: The magazine's editors, you see, don't just talk the talk, they ... run the run.