Marathon Runners Impact Houston's Economy

The Chevron Houston Marathon is this Sunday. The race is booked, with 20,000 runners expected to compete. And as Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, those runners have an economic impact on the city.

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The Houston Marathon started 35 years ago with 113 runners. These days 20,000 runners are cheered on by a quarter of a million spectators. Marathon Marketing Director Steven Karpas says the majority of runners are from Texas, but there's also heavy participation from Mexico, Canada and even Africa and Russia.

"In 2003 we did an economic impact study. We had 11,000 at that point. Now, with 20,000 runners, we anticipate our economic impact to be close to $25 million to Houston's economy on an annual basis."

About a fourth of participants in the race are from out of town, and nearly that many spectators are also from outside Houston. The average length of stay for out-of-towners is two nights.

"We have sold out six downtown-area host hotels. The runners then visit museums, they visit restaurants, they spend money in stores. Runners fly in, they use taxi cabs, they buy products and at the end of the day the economic impact to the city of Houston through tax revenue is extremely large."

Many of the participants also run in support of various charities. Last year, runners raised $660,000 for local non-profit organizations. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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