SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Organizers of the upcoming Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon shared details of the three-day running festival with the public Monday.
As planning for the first ever marathon along Hwy. 90 reached its halfway point, the people behind the event hosted an open house in Biloxi. They said the races are generating a lot of interest among runners from across the country and even Canada.
Volunteers put up signs and banners at the White House Hotel in Biloxi, trying to spread the word about the first Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon.
"It's been fantastic. We're real lucky and happy to announce that we have runners from 29 states that are coming, and we'll be hosting one or two from Canada. We're hoping as the next 25 weeks go, we'll try to get as close to all 50 states and a few more countries," said Danny Bourgeois, Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon Marketing Director.
So far, about 1,000 runners have registered for the three-day festival that opens Dec. 9. The biggest races will take place Sunday, Dec. 11, with a half and full marathon along Hwy. 90. Both races will finish at MGM Park in Biloxi. Kyle Pardon, of Biloxi, is an avid runner. He said those competitors will love the scenery.
"Just as if the Boston Marathon, how it brings so many people from other cities, states and all like that, I'm pretty sure this will. A lot of people will want to enjoy running along the beach and all," said Pardon.
The same people who are putting together the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon have also been running a successful marathon in Baton Rouge, LA, for the last five years. The organizers are trying to tie in both events by issuing what's called a Beach to Bayou Challenge.
"If you run in Mississippi in December and then come run in Louisiana in January, not only do you receive your medals and your awards for those two races, you'll also get a Beach to Bayou Challenge medal. So, it's all about the bling. We're excited to be offering that too," said Bourgeois.
Tourism leaders also expressed excitement about the potential economic impact of $1.5 million.
"We think this is a great opportunity in a slower period for the coast. It'll be lovely. It's a flat run. It's a Boston qualifier. We think it's a win-win for everybody," said Renee Areng, Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast Executive Director.
The event also features a 5K and Kids Marathon, Poker Run and Beer Mile. The festivities wrap up with a beach party in Biloxi.