Regions Southwest Virginia

Impact of Roanoke’s race continues to grow

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The Roanoke region’s economy continues to benefit from an annual marathon that’s drawing more racers to the area.

The eighth annual race in April, known as “America’s Toughest Road Marathon,” hosted 1,859 runners who generated more than $613,000 in economic impact, according to an analysis by the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission.

Over the past eight years, the event has contributed more than $3.8 million to the local economy.

A post-race survey of the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, double marathon, half marathon, relay, and associated events including the Carilion Family 1-Miler, and Anthem Star 10K, determined that the April 16 races created $349,005 in direct new sales activity, plus an additional $264,543 in indirect and induced spending for the total of $613,548 – up 3.6 percent from 2016.

The economic impact was larger this year as a result of an increased number of participants from outside the Roanoke region. They accounted for 54 percent of race participants. The race drew runners from 43 states and the District of Columbia and eight foreign countries: Albania, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, Mongolia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

In the survey, people were asked to report the amount spent on fuel, meals, lodging, miscellaneous retail purchases and admissions while in Roanoke. According to the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, about 48 percent of the participants took the survey. 

Some of the findings:

·         More than 44 percent of all respondents reported staying in town for at least one night.  About 38 percent stayed one to two nights. The average length of stay among overnight visitors was 1.7 nights.
·         About 46 percent of respondents reported traveling with family or friends, with an average of 1.1 additional people in the travel party among overnight visitors.

The race starts in downtown Roanoke and climbs to the top of Mill Mountain and Roanoke Mountain along sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway for a total elevation change of 7,430 feet.

Along with national interest, local participation continues to grow. The Anthem 10K race option, Carilion Family 1-Miler, post-race festival and concert in conjunction with the Down by Downtown Music Festival, brought the community to the city’s Elmwood Park. 

The 2018 races are scheduled for April 21. 

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