The former President and CEO of New York Road Runners is the new head of Virgin Sport, which will launch its first sports festival events this year
For 17 years, Mary Wittenberg was involved in every aspect of the New York City Marathon during her time at New York Road Runners. From 2005–2015, she was president and CEO, overseeing a period of enormous growth for the race. But now she has the opportunity to launch a new series of events from scratch. In May 2015, she was hired as global CEO—Chief Exercise Officer—for Virgin Sport, created as part of Richard Branson’s empire with a goal of motivating people to get fit through sports. The first series of events were recently announced with three planned in London and one in San Francisco in 2017. Virgin’s plan is to organize mass participatory events that will include running, cycling and other fitness challenges as the series evolves.
In this interview with SportsTravel’s Jason Gewirtz, Wittenberg discusses the concept for Virgin Sport, working with Richard Branson and what she learned at NYRR.
Virgin Sport just announced the first festival events you plan to organize in 2017—three in England and one in San Francisco. How would you describe the concept of these events?
Our product is focusing on creating experiences that make taking on a challenge fun. Our philosophy is that bringing people together helps you get moving and stay moving. The first events are what we call our “festival of sport.” Our idea is to create a series of right-sized challenges for people all weekend long in a variety of sports, at a variety of distances, so that all your friends, all your family, all your teammates, your workmates can gather together and everyone can be an active participant and take on the challenge they’re ready for. It’s all wrapped up in a spirit and a focus on local culture, art, food, music and the like so we create happenings. The idea is that it’s alluring for people to be part of it and take on a challenge that can ultimately be part of a transformative role for sport in their lives.
To read the rest of this Q&A in the digital edition of SportsTravel, please click here.