First Marathon Boosts Gulf Coast Economy


The Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon drew huge crowds to our area. They got the chance to enjoy the scenery and had plenty of time to see what else the Coast has to offer. News 25’s Hank Davis takes a look at the event’s impact, which will last long after the race has been run.
With the first ever Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon in the books, runners had great things to say about their experience on the beaches of Mississippi as beautiful weather and our flat landscape set the stage for plenty of success on and off the course.
Marathoners might have run in on one end of the Coast and right out the other, but the impact that they’ve had on our area will be sticking around a little bit longer than they did. City of Gulfport Public Information Officer Chris Vignes said, “It was absolutely incredible. We had guests from 42 states, including Canada also. They all came to see the Gulf Coast, many for the first time. Our restaurants stayed packed, our hotels. Everybody was enjoying it. They were out here and they not only ran, but they were a part of our community for the weekend. They’re seeing it now and now we’re hearing people are already making plans to come back, it was unbelievable.”
The beauty of the event is that the sprawling race spread the crowd out along the Coast, giving them a chance to check out more of what our area has to offer. Cecilia Dobbs Walton with the City of Biloxi Public Affairs said, “There’s so many things goes on on the Gulf Coast, casinos, a lot of family attractions, a lot of historical sights and museums for families to go to. The racers come to participate, but they bring their families and spectators and staying in all of the amenities that we have on the Gulf Coast makes people more knowledgeable of what the Gulf Coast has to offer. It’s over three days so that brings in more people.”
The resounding response is that the inaugural marathon was a success for the entire Coast, which means it can only grow from here. “This event is only going to get bigger and better. They had an early number of hoping for 3,000 runners and they easily surpassed that. The sky is the limit and we look forward to working with this group again,” said Vignes.
Pat Fellows with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon said, “I think we can make this a five to ten thousand person event in the next five years. I think next year we’ll probably creep up towards five and then from there who knows.”