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A survey estimates the 1,684 runners and their friends and family produced about $476,000 in direct and indirect spending.
The Roanoke Times | File April
Runners take off from the starting line down Jefferson Street at the Blue Ridge Marathon in April.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Roanoke’s mountain marathon and half-marathon spurred nearly a half-million dollars in economic impact last month, according to a survey of the runners.
The $476,000 in direct and indirect spending by 1,684 runners in the April 20 Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon and Half Marathon — and their friends and family who traveled with them — is up 26.3 percent from last year, according to the survey by Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission.
Nearly half of those who responded said they stayed in town for at least one night, and about the same number brought others with them on the trip. Spending on hotels and meals is a major component of the economic impact of an event like the marathon. The race produced about $300,000 in new sales activity, and about $180,000 in indirect spending.
The race, in its fourth year, was the biggest yet, with registrations up 77 percent from 2012.
Registrations benefitted from the race being on lists of the toughest in the world in several national publications, said Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the partnership.
Race organizers also generated buzz by offering free race entries to key running bloggers to give away to readers, and for the bloggers themselves, Eshelman said. Chatter about the race on social media was way up over past years, he said.
New sponsor Foot Levelers was also a boon, Eshelman said. The company, the world’s largest maker of custom orthotics, has contacts throughout the running industry that helped bring legendary runners such as Bart Yasso, Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers to the event, which Eshelman said in turn is expected to generate coverage in Runner’s World magazine.
The runners who came were pleased by what they found, the survey showed. Runners traveled from 38 states, primarily in the Southeast, as well as Canada, Germany, England and Ethiopia.
Forty-six percent of them completed the post-race survey, and all said they were satisfied with the race. Eshelman said that’s a key statistic.
“That’s really important for a race our size for runners to be out there telling their friends to put us on their list,” he said.
The 2014 race is scheduled for April 26, and organizers expect it could double in size, which will help them gauge the capacity for it, Eshelman said. Eventually it will have a limit on registrations to maintain the same “personal Southern charm and feel,” he said, which includes maintaining it as an event the local community enjoys and supports.
“You don’t want to become so big that people start to think that’s the weekend you want to get out of town,” he said.
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