Race Lures Dollars

The 2nd annual National College Blue Ridge Marathon - America's Toughest Road Marathon and Half Marathon made a lasting impact on runners as well as the region's economy.

Race Lures Dollars
Marathon and Half Marathon create $339,000 economic impact; participation from outside region continues to grow

ROANOKE, Va., (July 12, 2011) – The second annual National College Blue Ridge Marathon (America's Toughest Road Marathon) and half marathon made a lasting impact on runners as well as the region’s economy.

The April race April drew 1,069 registered runners who created an economic impact of $339,079, according to a post-race survey that determined the race created $226,638 in direct new sales activity plus an additional $112,442 in indirect and induced spending.

“It’s only the second year of the races and already we continue to see that outdoor-oriented events have tangible economic benefits,” says Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “It’s particularly impressive when you consider the figures focus only on those race participants classified as visitors to the region. This doesn’t include money that local runners, 325 local volunteers or the more than 1,000 spectators likely spent the day of the events.”

Runners represented 39 states, with 83 percent from the southeastern United States. “This year we saw an increase in the proportion of participants traveling more than 200 miles to the events,” Eshelman says.

The races and visitors served to heighten awareness of the region’s outdoor offerings and activities, and reaffirmed the steadily growing interest in the Roanoke Region as an outdoor destination.

Surveys distributed to race participants following the event determined that nearly 61 percent of respondents stayed at least one night, with 45 percent staying between one and two nights. The average length of stay among respondents from outside the area was two nights.

The average size of respondents’ travel parties was 1.7 people, with 48 percent of respondents reporting traveling with family or friends. While in the region, 41 percent of respondents reported visiting a local attraction.

“The results are important not only to help our community understand the economic impact these events bring to the region, but also to build support among potential participants and sponsors for future marathons and other outdoor events,” Eshelman says.

Last year’s inaugural event drew 942 registered runners from 34 states, resulting in an economic impact of $346,776 – about the same as this year’s race, which was held in a torrential downpour.

The marathon is one of the most significant events to promote the Roanoke Region’s outdoor adventures and build its outdoor brand as a place where a hike, run, bike ride or paddle is just minutes away. The 2012 Blue Ridge Marathon and half marathon are scheduled for April 21.

The Roanoke Regional Partnership markets Alleghany, Botetourt, Franklin and Roanoke counties, Roanoke, Salem, and Vinton to new and expanding industry. Since 1983, the Partnership has assisted expansions and locations representing $1.3 billion in new investment and nearly 14,000 direct new jobs in the region. To learn more, visit www.roanoke.org, www.RoanokeOutside.com and www.RoanokeEntrepreneur.com.


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