New York Road Runners: A Global Fitness Organization

New York Road Runners (NYRR), founded in 1958 with 47 members, has grown into the nation’s foremost running organization, with a membership of 40,000. NYRR conducts more than 100 events each year, including races, classes, clinics, and lectures. In addition, the NYRR Foundation creates school-based running teams through Running Partners, a youth development program serving schools with recreation programs. NYRR has also hosted the world famous ING New York city marathon.

NYRR needed to replace their legacy application with a robust enterprise application capable of producing technical documentation for some of their key applications and handle the large inflow of 50k+ hits received during events. They needed a Content Management System (CMS) that would incorporate social media features such as articles, blogs, photos and video galleries which could be managed by non-technical users.

Why Drupal was chosen: 

Drupal was chosen principally because of its flexibility, security, modularity, stability and the rich availability of contributed modules.

Drupal was a perfect choice as it was a free, scalable and extendable CMS. With a wide variety of contributed modules, we were able to build a system that could meet the current site requirements and easily add new functionalities in the future. Drupal has a great and thriving community for support as well as a proven security track record. The system also boasts an extremely well-developed social publishing infrastructure which is a central component for the NYRR website.

Drupal also provides a platform for building complex websites with heavy traffic and integrates well with web services. It has the capability to manage large amounts of traffic with an inbuilt cache system and third party cache support like Varnish, Memcache, etc. NYRR was drawn to the ease of use when it came to integrating and maintaining CDN, Varnish, APC and Memcache with Drupal via contributed modules.

Describe the project (goals, requirements and outcome): 

Our initial engagement was to carry out a technology audit, also known as an infrastructure assessment, that was followed by detailed recommendations made to the executive team.

We partnered with other agencies including, Double Space and Evolution Management to offer a holistic solution and to offer realistic recommendations based on which critical decisions were made. We were subsequently retained to implement the recommendations provided.

In addition, we included a detailed discovery along with interactive wireframes for the enterprise application that would replace their legacy application. We also produced technical documentation for some of their key applications and also advised on several other technology initiatives that were well underway at NYRR.

- Develop a flexible enterprise level CMS application to support their marketing team.
- Provide ability to manage site content easily through the backend.
- Set up a workflow for their content team.
- Sustain the ability to handle a large amount of traffic.
- Design an easy-to-use backend interface for a non-technical team.
- Provide automated solutions to reduce work by content team.
- Integrate features of social media site’s.

We created an enterprise level CMS application for runners with a wide range of features like browse upcoming race information, post-race video albums, race recap, race reactions, race calendar, coaching and training programs, classes, resources, eat right recipes, injury prevention, volunteer stories, hall of fame section, donations, fundraising, social site feeds, coaching directory, coaching staff, API, articles, media room section, profile widget and more. Now most of the work is automated and it has reduced lots of manual effort by the marketing team.

Workflow implementation has made their life easier and now each role has its own set of responsibility and actions. The system is also automatically updating the content and status update of respective teams.

With a conceptually organized technical architecture and robust server structure, this application is capable of handling a large amount of traffic without performance impact. During any race event, we noticed 300K visits on the site and the server structure was capable of handling any heavy traffic on the site. This application also underwent a full vulnerability scan by a reputed third party security agency.

Main Features of the Application
1. User friendly content architecture for backend users so they can easily manage site content through organized content types, taxonomy, blocks and custom modules.

2. Dynamic race calendar, social site feeds, multiple race templates and automatic template cutover after race completion.

3. A colorful customized multilevel Breadcrumb: Breadcrumb color is different for each main section. On rollover, all items to the right of the mouse expand to the right. On hover, items show background color change and text color change.

4. Photo Albums and Carousels: There are different types of image carousels and photo galleries implemented throughout the site. They are managed through different content types and custom modules. Users can access a gallery in a carousel with a list view and detailed view formats.

5. Allow administrators to manage list order manually using node queue module.

6. Site Design: All PSD’s were designed by DoubleSpace, a design team for NYRR.

7. Theme Designing: Front end theme was designed from scratch by our in house team. There is quite a bit of use of CSS Sprites and font-face library, managed by a SaaS framework.

8. Custom Search: We have developed many custom searches in the site like race search, article search, profile search, etc. These searches are based upon JQUERY/JSON/Ajax. Due to query string and post method cache issues with Varnish we have preferred to use JSON based search.Basically Drupal returns a set of content in JSON format, then we are searching JSON data at the client side which is also cached by Varnish. Through this method the search will not hit the web server every time for each process thread.

9. Runner Widget: This widget is based on a questionnaire and according to your answer it will suggest a correct runner type category.

10. Articles: There are 3 types of articles used in the site.

  • News Service Articles – These are managed through a default article content type with some custom fields.
  • External Articles – These articles are linked to an external source.
  • Blog Articles – These are associated with different blogs.

11. Manage classes, coaching directory, eat-right recipes, tips, coaching staff, experts, resource directory, injury prevention tips, jobs, press releases, testimonials, sponsors, training programs, stories, volunteer photo albums and even more content through the backend.

12. NYRR TV – A YouTube video gallery. We created this video gallery using light box and video embed field contributed modules.

13. CDN – We have integrated the CDN module to handle large numbers of images and scripts load sharing.

14. Workflow – We have also designed and implemented workflows to manage site content. We are using the workflow module here and have done customizations to configure multiple triggers and actions as requested by NYRR.

Why these modules/theme/distribution were chosen: 

These modules are only a sample of the most important components within, but provided a solid framework for most of the site's infrastructure and helped to setup a user friendly CMS application. Miscellaneous components such as Drush and Xdebugger were also used in the development of the site.

Project team: 

The project was completed by Icreon Tech, an enterprise web development firm that specializes in using Drupal to build complex content management solutions for large organizations

A portal to access all races and events sponsored by NYRR
The New York City Half Marathon 2013