Officials have hopeful outlook for impact of marathon

Officials have hopeful outlook for impact of marathon

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The inaugural Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon saw nearly 3,500 people run down Highway 90 over the course of two days, not including family and friends that may have traveled with those runners.

Those numbers add up to an economic boost for South Mississippi.

Danny Bourgeois, marketing director for the race, says the outpouring of support from the cities hosting the race was a key to success.

"Every office we've worked with has said, 'How else can we help? Because we want to see this be successful,'" Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois is also the marketing director for the Louisiana marathon. He says using some of the techniques that have made Louisiana's race a success could yield similar results in Mississippi.

"In comparison to our other race, the Louisiana Marathon, that's been around for five years and it will probably peak at about 9,000 participants this year. With the Kent State economic impact study we did, we hit 17 million to date in economic impact in travel runners to the region. If we can replicate that here over the next five years, it's a complete success story," said Bourgeois.

But for now, the overall impact of the 2016 event on the Coast is unknown.

CLICK HERE to view a gallery of race photos

First time marathoner Ashley McDermott points to the number of entrants as a big part of her finishing the race.

"It was very difficult, exhausting, but having the support of so many other runners around, just consistently cheering you on through the whole thing was just fantastic," McDermott said, "I thought it was great. All pretty serious runners this time since it's the first year. But I'm excited to see what it will become because these are the same people that do the Louisiana Marathon, and I know that they're going to do a great job promoting this and it's going to be big."

Part of that growth means building relationships along the Coast.

"If we can double, and triple, and quadruple that over the next couple years, it's going to be from relationships with our schools, with the other running clubs and running stores that are along the Coast, but also smaller organizations and corporate partners," Bourgeois said.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.