MS. REBECCA SHEIR
We move now from speed dating to a sport that really is a race against time, competitive running. And if it seems like everyone you know is training for a road race right about now, well, it turns out there are more runners than ever before and locally the number of organized events has skyrocketed. According to The Washington Running Report, a magazine that covers the local racing world, so far this year our region has seen more than 1,600 road races.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
And not only do we have a lot of races, we also host some of the most elite races in the country, such as the Marine Corps Marathon. Emily Friedman takes a look at how the mainstreaming of marathons means big business in the nation's capital.
MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN
Marathon day is a special day for running in D.C. Streets are shut down, crowds line the course to cheer you on. On this day, runners rule.
MS. LISA DELPY NEROTTI
You're running, you have the vistas of the capital, of Lincoln, of the monuments. So for runners the Marine Corps Marathon is on their top list of ones to do.
This is Lisa Delpy Nerotti, professor of tourism and sports management at the George Washington University School of Business.
We could have a marathon in D.C., you know, once or twice a month if the city authorities would allow it. These fill up like, boom. The Army 10 miler or the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, they fill up in 24 hours.
The D.C. area has some of the most prestigious and popular races in the world she says and since Marine Corps is one of the top five races in the country, it rakes in a lot of cash.
Overall, the direct economic impact of these runners is over $35 million and that then translates into tax revenue over $2 million.
That's roughly 20 percent more than what visitors spent last time data was collected, back in 2006. the reason spending went up, Nerotti says, is because more participates are choosing to stay at hotels in the District, which is a little bit more expensive than staying in Virginia. According to a study by Nerotti and her colleagues, participates stayed in hotels an average of three nights and more than 70 percent of the visitors were from out of town, which for economic impact, is exactly what a city would want.
So when you add it all up, Nerotti says, that's 27,000 entrance fees, that's how many runners there are typically, three nights of hotel rooms, three or more days of food and plenty of time to shop for all those things runners need, like commemorative pillows.
It's all hand embroidered and it shows the highlights of the race course.
The charms are from $15 to $20. my favorite clients are the ones that are going to do a marathon in all 50 states.
And running skirts with red, white and blue stars on them.
We sell millions of dollars in skirts each year.
At the marathon expo, which filled the D.C. Armory in the days leading up to the race, runners stroll up and down the rows of vendor booths. Marathoners spend an average of $400 on shoes and apparel in a given year, so while running might seem like a fairly streamlined sport, Merrill Trishon (sp?) a runner from Tampa, will tell you it's not.
MS. MERRILL TRISHON
There's nothing cheap about running. Running shoes are $100 to $200. you have to have the right outfit and then you have season changes. there's nothing cheap about running, unless you're Forrest Gump and you just go out and run, you know.
Back at the race, Professor Lisa Delpy Nerotti explains that for relatively minimal effort, essentially closing roads, policing and having emergency vehicles ready, hosting the Marine Corps Marathon is a sweet deal.
So this super bowl economic impact is approximately $150 million and this is $35 to $40 million. Marine Corps Marathon may not have as much media coverage as the Super Bowl, so in terms of overall economic impact, this is great return on investment for the city.
And best yet, she says, it's an event that happens annually, 36 years and counting. Add to the list the Nation's Marathon, which as of 2012 will be known as the Walk and Roll U.S.A. Marathon, the Cherry Blossom 10K, the Army 10K, not to mention the growing ranks of triathlons.
I do not see this trend slowing down, whether it's, you know, shorter races or marathons and now you have ultra marathons, it's big business.
And so, Nerotti says, if you're getting tired of hearing about your coworker's training schedule or your sister's personal record, it's time to get used to it or get on board. I'm Emily Friedman.
If all this talk of running is making you want to pound the pavement, check out our website, metroconnection.org, where we have links to calendars of races around the D.C. area.
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