Have Shoes (and Money), Marathoners Will Travel

Posted by Filed Under: Marathons, News and Opinion

The travel industry is catching on that runners are good for business.


A republished Detroit-based newspaper article about half- and full-marathoners traveling the world to get in a new run included some interesting statistics:

  • “Marathon tourism is on the rise, coinciding with the huge increase in the number of people who now run—29.2 million in 2005, up from 20.6 million in 1995.”
  • “The average runner has a household income of about $95,000 and has had at least four years of college.”
  • “About half of marathon tourists take spouses or friends with them when they travel …. Most are professional people. Most are Type A personalities who want to keep busy on a trip besides running. And most are good travelers who don’t complain.” Said one tour operator: “As runners, they run in snow, rain and mud, and they don’t mind carrying their luggage once in a while.”

The gist of the article is that not only is this a novel way to see the world (to non-runners, at least) but these recreational athletes bring in a lot of business for the cities that host running events. I often have been told that, next to the Super Bowl, the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon brings in more tourism revenue than any other sporting event in San Diego.

Speaking of which, another business article, this one in Business Week, highlights some similar statistics about runners’ affluence, putting the average incomes a little higher (around $98,000) from a Runner’s World survey. It also focuses on the financial gains to be made from a growing cottage industry: professional race organizations now putting on many of the major marathons. It singles out Elite Racing and its Rock ‘n’ Roll franchise as one success story. A growing number of cities are now hoping to start up half or full music-oriented marathons in their areas to compete with the 350 marathons already out there.

About Anne

Anne’s been running for so long that when two paths diverge in the woods, not only she does she know to go for the one with the most foreboding weeds, swarms of bees and steep, rocky climbs, but she convinces everyone else to come along. Then, before people are done cursing and nursing insect bites, bloody knees and poison oak outbreaks, she’ll again run — away. She eschews a lot of the newfangled devices that are supposed to make you a better runner because she believes it’s what you put into your body, not on it, that really matters. (Footwear is the exception.) That includes proper nourishment of the mind, which we all know is what really makes the difference on the road…and the trail…and the track. At some point she started to realize that not everyone has run into an Alaskan grizzly bear, been pegged by police as a robber, lost her shorts in a major marathon, rubbed elbows with Olympians, mistaken movie stars for beach bums and watched a wildfire consume her suburb - yes, while she was on a long run. Whether it’s these unique situations, or the universal ones every recreational runner encounters, after she lives it, she loves nothing better than to write about it at Run DMZ.

  1. yomomma on May 1st at 10:19 am

    Having a RnR marathon on Saturday rather than on Sunday would be great.

  2. Anne on May 1st at 11:30 am

    Maybe great for the runners, but every year the people living in some of the neighborhoods protest to the City Council and planning boards to have the San Diego marathon shut down or rerouted because they can’t get in or out. I can only imagine that would be 10x more difficult on a Saturday, when many more people don’t sleeping in until noon and have more to do. That’s usually why big marathons are held early on Sundays.

  3. Linda on May 1st at 12:59 pm

    We actually really considered going on an east coast/maritime cruise that catered to runners. They had runs set up at each port and speakers in the evening.

  4. Dawn - Pink Chick on May 4th at 8:32 am

    I travelled to Tampa FL for a half marathon with friends a couple of years ago. We met some online buddies and had a blast.

    Last fall I went again to Florida but this time to watch friends compete in Ironman FL. That was both exciting and fun so much so I’m going again this fall.

    In June, I’m travelling again, but to San Deigo with about 20 others and again I hope to meet up with other online buddies.

    Next year we are looking at meeting up at the Big Sur Marathon. I love travelling and combining it with a race whether its to run or cheer on friends.

    For me it’s something I’d like to do every year as long as I can afford it or run it.

  5. jason on October 13th at 10:28 pm

    we have traveled a lot to run marathons