SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The first Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon weekend is days away, and runners from all over the United States have converged on the Coast.
Runner Julie Stoltman-Kubes and her husband are in town from Minnesota to run the half marathon.
"We are staying at a rental house by start line, not too far from Jones Park," said Julie, who has already tried out the cuisine at nearby restaurants.
At the marathon expo, Julie made purchases at Run-n-Tri, a Gulfport athletic store.
"Runners are a great community to bring into the place because they're respectful and like to spend money," she noted.
Owner of Run-n-Tri, Dean Morrow, says he and his staff are thrilled the race is finally a reality.
"It's going to have an economic impact on the entire coast, hotels, restaurants," said Morrow. "There are 3,200 people coming in to run the race. Tourism in December, it's amazing for the Coast."
Many have already seen a busier weekend than normal for this time of year.
"We've noticed just in the past couple days our phone has rung more. That's gratifying. It's bringing in people thinking about other things do on Coast while they're here," noted Greg Stewart, Executive Director of Beauvoir
Race co-founder Craig Sweeney says the event already has more participants in its first year than The Louisiana marathon, which he also co-founded.
"We're doing a 'Beach to Bayou Challenge' where if they run Mississippi this weekend, then go run the Louisiana Marathon in January, they get a third medal," said Sweeney.
The economic impact of the Louisiana Marathon pumps $2-3 million dollars into the Baton Rouge economy each year. Sweeney hopes to partner with The University of Mississippi's economic department for a similar study on the Coast.
A 5K race and a kids race will be held at Point Cadet Plaza on Saturday. The 5K will begin at 8 a.m., and the kids race will start at 9:30 a.m.
The marathon and half-marathon both start Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on the south side of Highway 90, from Pass Christian to MGM Park. The southbound lanes will be closed during the competition until around noon.
For additional details on Sunday's race, click here to view maps, shuttle info and more.