The 26.2-mile distance of the ING New York City Marathon this weekend is not the only impressive number surrounding the event.
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The New York Road Runners (NYRR), which organizes the run through all five boroughs, estimated that this year’s race will generate at least $350 million this year, an increase from $340 million brought in last year.
It's also expecting more than 47,000 runners. In 2010, the more than 45,000 participants spent nearly $1,800 each during their visit to New York City, according to an economic analysis provided by AECOM.
NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg says the organization, particularly in this economy, is conscious of costs to its members and to the city, and tries to keep fees to within $18-$25 for most of its races.
Along with the thousands of runners that descend on the city for the weekend, many of their family and friends come along to cheer them on. An expected 2.5 million spectators will line the course to experience the event and celebrate afterward. This means big business for hotels, restaurants, bars and tourist attractions across the city.
The marathon runners weren’t the only ones spending months training for the big event. The New York Road Runners Club also spent months preparing, working on everything from coordinating the lottery for entrants to working with sponsors and various city departments. The NYRR has a full-time staff of about 135 that work throughout the year, but as the marathon approaches, the staff swells to nearly 700 with the addition of part-time staff. More than 10,000 volunteers will assist on the race day.
According to NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg, the not-for-profit organization’s revenue is a hybrid of donations and race fees from the approximately 50 races throughout the year, many of which are sponsored and raise money for a variety of charities. The NYRR’s revenue is approximately $55 million a year, of which the marathon is the biggest revenue driver. Wittenberg says the organization has a goal of raising at least $1 million per race mile for a charity in an effort to reach a goal of $30 million for the race.
Wittenberg says partnerships are key for the organization. Many of its races throughout the year are sponsored, such as the NYC marathon’s ING sponsor. The NYRR works with sponsors to provide the necessities for the participants before, during and after the marathon as well. At the start of the race, 563 pounds of coffee, or approximately 45,000 cups, are provided by sponsor Dunkin’ Donuts. Sponsor Poland Springs provides 93,600 eight-ounce bottles of water at the race start as well as 62,370 gallons of water along the course and bottles in the recovery bags at the finish.
The marathon is not just a busy day for the NYRR, but for various city departments as well. The NY Department of Sanitation says it collected 114.29 tons of litter, 6.34 tons of paper and 2.98 tons of metal, glass and plastic after the 2010 marathon. And after this year’s marathon the department is deploying 173 uniformed sanitation workers as well as 20 supervisors to operate 39 collection trucks, 441 mechanical brooms, seven dump trucks, 21 push brooms and back pack blowers among others to clean up the refuse from the race.