THOUSANDS of runners will descend on York next weekend for a new marathon being staged as a legacy to inspirational fundraiser Jane Tomlinson which is predicted to boost the local economy by £1m, organisers said last night.
Professional and amateur athletes are coming not only from the UK but from France, Spain, Ireland, the USA, Africa and the Caribbean to tackle the course in and around historic York on a route that is flat and is predicted to see some fast times.
Yesterday tourism chiefs and city leaders said the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon, which takes place on October 20, would prove a major boost with the event predicted to generate a £1m bonanza for the local economy. Studies suggest the figure is likely to rise in the years ahead as the race becomes firmly established on the region’s sporting calendar.
With thousands of supporters and spectators expected to line the streets cheering on the competitors, many businesses in the city will benefit from the event. It also provides an opportunity for the region to raise its profile still further.
Coun Sonja Crisp, York Council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, said: “With a crowd expected in the region of 20,000 – including runners, supporters and spectators – we’d hope for a least a £1m economic benefit to the city’s businesses.”
Gillian Cruddas, chief executive of Visit York, said the marathon, together with the York’s staging of Tour de France’s Grand Départ in 2014, gave York a valuable international platform to showcase the city and attract more visitors. “Sporting events of all kinds are increasingly popular as we continue to feel the enthusiasm that was created following the Olympics, and ahead of the Grand Depart coming to York and Yorkshire next year,” she said.
“With over 6,000 participants taking part in York’s first marathon from a variety of countries across the world, we’d envisage thousands of visitors will be attracted to what will be an amazing event and it presents a great opportunity to showcase the city to a host of international audiences.”
Around 6,500 runners – including almost 500 James Potter Eggs Yorkshire Marathon Corporate Relay participants – have signed up to take part in the event with places being quickly snapped up when they went on sale in January.
Research carried out into the economic benefits of high-profile sporting events suggests the impact can be substantial. Brighton launched a marathon in 2010 and an independent study put the economic benefit of the first race at £3.5m. Prof Colin Mellors, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for business and community at the University of York, where the event starts and finishes, said: “High-profile inclusive sporting events, such as the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon, have major positive impacts on local communities and on regional businesses. The thousands of people coming to the city – competitors and spectators – from Yorkshire and across the UK will need to be accommodated, fed and transported, which will bring direct benefits to local and regional businesses.”
The marathon is being staged by a new organisation under the Jane Tomlinson charitable events umbrella – which already includes the Leeds, York, Hull and Pennine-Lancashire 10Ks and other events. The Run For All, Swim For All and Walk for All organisations were established by the Tomlinson family as a legacy to the late Yorkshire fundraiser and campaigner Jane Tomlinson, CBE, from Leeds, who raised almost £2m for charity by tackling a series of incredible endurance challenges, despite being diagnosed with incurable cancer.
The Yorkshire Post is a media partner for the marathon.
Entries for 2014’s Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon go on general sale on January 6. But people can register now for an exclusive pre-sale on January 3. For more information go to the website: www.theyorkshiremarathon.com
Visit yorkshirepost.co.uk for full video coverage and online live results of the marathon.