Long distance runners benefit Utah economy

Whether it’s down a mountain canyon or through a southern dessert, Utah has become a hot spot for long distance running. And it’s not just strapping on the shoes and testing your endurance, there is also an economic impact for the community. And where women were once not allowed, they often out number their male counterparts.

“It has had a major economic impact on the city. We probably bring in about three plus million dollars a year from just outside the area,” said Kent Perkins, Leisure Services Director for St. George.

The St. George marathon has drawn runners from every state and many countries. It was named the best organized marathon by Runners World Magazine and also one of the most scenic races.

And once runners have experienced St. George, some decide to make it their permanent home.

“You see a lot of people who move here as a matter of fact because of the marathon. They kind of discover St. George,” said Perkins.

There are 38 marathons across Utah and many provide a positive economic impact to the community where they are held.

“Last year with 4000 people in the event and about a 1000 of those coming from out of state, between travel and hotel and food and shopping it ended up being about 1.1 million,” said Josh Rohatinsky, Big Cottonwood Marathon Race Director.

1.1 million dollars pumped into the community.

“So there is a big economic impact on the local community even with just a 4000 person event,” Rohatinsky continued.

So why running?

“There has been a very big public outcry about fears of obesity and running is a very simple way for somebody to try and battle that in their life,” said Travis Hildebrand, General Manager Salt Lake Running Company.

And compared to some sports, running is just more affordable

“A pair of shoes, a jog bra for a female, a good pair of socks and a pair of shorts and a running top and your equipped.”

Utah's diverse scenery makes for a perfect backdrop.

“The ability to run out of the canyons a long a river, with the beauty into the city is very unique to this area.”

“As people do these events and have a fun time doing them, they get addicted to it and they just want to do more and more," said Rohatinsky.

Did you know women were once banned from long distance running. It wasn't until 1981 that the Olympics had a marathon for women. Today it is not uncommon to see as many women as men. In the half marathon women often out number the men.

“This is our time to get together and kind of just release all that energy we have from dealing with our small children,” said Jessica Dalton, Spokesperson Salt Lake Running Company.
“As I get older also so I can keep up with my kids, to stay healthy enough so that I can go hiking with them, chase after my grandkids,” said Mitra Egbert who is a long distance runner.

And because many of these events go through city streets it provides an opportunity for the community to get involved.

“It gives a rallying point. It creates an opportunity for the community to give its best foot forward. And so it’s a rallying point and we have tremendous support from volunteers and the community,” said Perkins.

Good for the community, good for your health and a positive economic impact.

“There's nothing like getting up into the canyons, going up in the foothills along the trails and be able to have time by yourself, its kind of a natural way to distress,” said Egbert.

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