To Bolder Boulder runners, it's a sturdy lunch bag that commemorates their participation in one to the top running events in the country.

To WhiteWave Foods, it's a marketing opportunity well worth the Broomfield-based company's $75,000 investment.

"When we found out the sponsorship was available, we jumped all over it," said WhiteWave spokeswoman Molly Keveney.

WhiteWave, the makers of Silk soy products and Horizon dairy products, as well as International Delight coffee creamers, Land O Lakes butter and Fruit2day juices, was approached by race organizers about sponsoring the lunch bag after the previous sponsor, Celestial Seasonings, backed out.

The sponsorship itself cost WhiteWave $50,000, and the company spent another $25,000 "plussing it up," including five vouchers randomly distributed among the lunch bags that entitle their holders to a year's worth of free WhiteWave products.

There also are additional coupons, free samples at an expo booth and chocolate soy milk and coffee creamers that will be included in the snack bag for runners.

Sponsors of the Bolder Boulder range from the title sponsor Dick's Sporting Goods and national giants such as Powerbar, Gatorade and, of course, Michelob Ultra to local companies including Twenty Ninth Street and Millennium Harvest House.

Sponsors cover about a third of the Bolder Boulder's $2.8 million cost, with race registration fees covering the remaining two-thirds.

"It sounds cliché, but the event could not happen at the high level that it does without the involvement of our corporate partners," race organizer Cliff Bosley said.

For WhiteWave, which is serving as a Bolder Boulder sponsor for the first time this year, the sponsorship is a way to maintain its visibility in its home community, raise awareness about its products among the many visitors and promote less well0known products at the company's expo booth.

"It's the No. 2 running race in the country," Keveney said. "This is not just Boulder people running. And yet it's such a unique part of Boulder."

More than 100 WhiteWave employees, all wearing White Wave T-shirts, will run the Bolder Boulder. The company paid for their registration fees and offered free weekly training sessions with running coach Rick Rojas, the 1979 winner of the Bolder Boulder.

One of the runners will sport a T-shirt promoting the company's blog, thegrazingmind.com. Spectators who snap a picture of the runner and tweet it using the hash tag #bolderboulder will be entered to win a free year's worth of WhiteWave products, Keveney said.

And the lunch bag, which says "Got to eat n' run" on one side and features the WhiteWave logo and all its product logos on the other side, likely will be used for years by race participants -- a daily dose of marketing in communities around the state and country.

"It meshes with the fact that we believe in health and wellness," Keveney said. "It's just an incredible opportunity."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or meltzere@dailycamera.com.