marathon, White Rock Marathon

How to make The Rock more like NYC

2010 White Rock Marathon

The New York City Marathon this Sunday will bring in some $350 million for the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg tells the media. That’s more than any sporting event, ever.

It makes me wonder what it would take for the Dallas White Rock Marathon to start bringing in that level of dough (in ’06 The Rock brought in 22 million — that’s the most recent stat I could find). I’ve attended both the White Rock and the New York City Marathons (add to my CJ Wilson-esque bragging montage) …

In New York, the entire city rallies around the event. It’s virtually a holiday and the only day of the year that the Verrazano-Narrows bridge is shut down — all day long.

New York City marathon spectators

In New York, for almost all 26.2 marathon miles (except for one bridge that is closed to spectators) the course is 5-10 rows deep with screaming spectators. Businesses run marathon specials all week long. Travel agents, concierges, hotels, attractions work around the clock to accommodate some 48,000 runners and their families hailing from all 50 states and 130 countries. The race has a rich history and attracts world-class celebrity runners.

In contrast, for example, following the White Rock Marathon, a man saw me in my running number and said, “What are ya’ll doing out there? You made me late to church.” And here at the Advocate, we hear as much complaining about marathon-day traffic as we do excitement over the event. OK, I understand the frustration. And some of my friends in New York get just as annoyed with marathon day as some of the people here, but they concede that it is a big holiday that is of great benefit to their city’s economy.

When I ran NYC, one of those previously annoyed  friends came to witness the marathon for the first time since he lived in New York. Before, he said, he just tried at all costs to avoid race day crowds. But even he admitted that being at the race was impressive, electric, inspiring — he even started running after that.

The White Rock marathon also has a rich history and it is improving and attracting more runners with each year. In Lakewood and Lake Highlands, we see an enormous amount of support for the race, but when this topic came up recently on a running forum , most agreed we could do better. Last year, the White Rock marathon moved from Victory Park to Fair Park, in order to accommodate more participants — as many as 35,000.

Perhaps we are on the road to making this event even more economically significant.

Here’s another article form Advertising Age about the economic benefits of a marathon event. Notes a Running USA researcher, “These events have become festivals, and people want to participate… the participants not only include runners but spectators as well, who take local pride in their cities’ marathons.

“Cities are embracing marathons for the economic upswing. One of the benefits of a marathon of any size is that it brings people to your city, it showcases your city, and it brings people back.”

This year’s White Rock Marathon will run Dec. 4 and begin at Fair Park. The race benefits the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital — more about that impact here.

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