Booming Race Growth and The Tough Mudder
As the spring marathon season continues and everyone who started training in the cold gets in a good 26.2, many road marathons are being held this weekend, from the well known Flying Pigs Marathon in Cincinnati and the London Life Force City Road Races Marathon in London, Ontario to Europe's Marathon held in Trieste, Italy.
A big story this weekend from the race area isn't just the number of places you can travel to race - it's race growth.
One city marathon to run this weekend is the Pittsburgh Marathon, back for it's second year after a five year hiatus. The reason? A former title sponsor pulled out and the race just couldn't afford to accommodate the approximately 6,500 participants who wanted to run.
Even a moderately sized race like that needs a good deal of money in the form of police overtime, not to mention GU, Gatorade, T-shirts and medals (medals alone can be 7-10% of a race budget). In 2006, 2 local residents tapped the current race director, Patrice Matamoros, and the race returned for the 2009 running with 10,000 participants and a $22 Million economic impact on the region. This year's marathon, half marathon and relay was capped at 16,000 and has filled, a 60 percent increase.
Another marathon with huge growth is located in Eugene, OR, and this one will still accept entries at the health and fitness expo on Friday and Saturday. Last year's field increased about 40% to this weekend's 8,000 runners, all excited to finish on historic Hayward field for the first time in this race's history.
As an added bonus for those who like running with the competitive, the half marathon is also part of the 2010 USATF Oregon Road Race Championship Grand Prix, raising it's profile a nudge higher and bringing attention to this seperately held race.
A final race that has grown faster than expectations? The Tough Mudder, a 7 mile off-road race filled with challenging obstacles run at the Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. The organizers were hoping, in the planning stages, to attract 500 hardy souls to slog through mud, trees, over 12 foot fences and across lakes to an untimed finish line with free beer and tattoos. 4,500 have signed up to put themselves through 17 obstacles and through a final "ring of fire" to the finish line. Good luck to them, and all the rest of this weekend's competitors.