Marathon’s economic impact may approach $50 million

Las Vegas, it’s time to rock.

And that means money for the Sin City.

More than 44,000 runners are expected to race in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon, up from 2010’s count of 25,300. The full marathon starts at
4 p.m. Sunday from Mandalay Bay and the half-marathon begins at 5:30 p.m. Sunday from the same location.

It’s the first time the Las Vegas Marathon will take place in the afternoon hours, a move made to take advantage of Las Vegas nighttime neon.

The event attracts individual runners, charities and running groups, ranging from professionals to novices, all of whom spend money in our fair city.

“This year, compared to last year, we’re looking at a record number of runners,” said Scott Russell, senior research manager for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

More runners means more economic impact: In 2010, the economic impact from the marathon was $37.5 million. This year it may approach $50 million.

“It’s a little early to say though,” Russell noted. “We won’t know until registration.”

Dan Cruz, spokesman for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon, said, “We truly believe that this can be one of the largest, if not the largest, mass participation events in the world.”

This year’s race drew participants from 56 countries, including 4,000 runners from Canada.

Locally, many running groups participate, including first-time racers.

Rockin Runners Fitness and Endurance Training operates two training groups, one based in Henderson and the other off West Sahara Avenue.

The coaching program is catered to beginners — founder and President James Johnston said he takes people from couch potatoes to half-marathon status.

“We teach people to run a marathon from scratch,” Johnston said.

The program uses three coaches who work as independent contractors. This training season cost $195 each, for a once-weekly training session. As the marathon neared, sessions were bumped up to twice weekly.

Rockin Runners had 120 participants this season, which means the group brought in $23,400 in revenue. The program lasts 12 to 16 weeks.

Next season, which will help participants prepare for the Summerlin half-marathon, will cost $135.

“A lot of people think they can’t do a half-marathon. The only thing that ever inhibits them is their brain,” Johnston said. “If you work hard at something you’re going to get there.”

At the marathon, Rockin Runners will have a runners’ tent and will greet each of its participants as they cross the finish line.

“It’s very emotional for people,” Johnston said. “When they cross, they’re looking for mommy. They’re looking for comfort.”

Sometimes, that comfort is found months before race day.

Josh Brimhall’s Red Rock Running Co. has two store locations in the valley, both of which have seen upticks in business as a result of the race.

“October, historically, has been our busiest month,” he said.

Runners looking to purchase new kicks come in during October, so they have the entirety of November to break in their new shoes. As a result, Brimhall said business increases by about 30 percent in October.

Since the weather cooled down dramatically this week, Brimhall also has seen customers come in looking for new gloves, arm warmers and beanies to wear on race day. Last week, participants came in to stock up on nutritional items like gels and electrolyte drinks.

“There’s a huge uptick in that nutritional stuff,” Brimhall said.

Red Rock Running Co also organizes running groups.

“We’re one of many groups,” Brimhall said.

And, his business is one of many that exhibits at the prerace expo that started Friday and continues today at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and admission is free.

“I think it’d be a mistake not to capitalize on the marathon,” Brimhall said.

During the race, special Vegas-centric options like the running Elvi, run-through weddings and race-side entertainment seek to make the Las Vegas Marathon a unique experience for participants.

“We make running fun,” Cruz said.

But even with all the fun, there will be some headaches on race day.

“Anytime you have a participation event with 44,000 runners, there are going to be some challenges,” Cruz said.

Among them, he pointed out, will be parking, road closures and access to the event. The Strip, for example, will close at 3 p.m. Sunday for the race. Besides the runners, more than 75,000 spectators are expected to line the course.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at
or 702-380-4588.

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