Professor Colin Mellors’ comments came as senior councillors in the city said it was expected the event, now in its second year, would generate £1m for the city.
This year 7,000 places were snapped up within hours of being made available and following Yorkshire’s hosting of the Tour de France and the clutch of medals won by the county’s sportsmen and women at the Commonwealth Games, the 2014 marathon promises to cap a major sporting year for the region.
Such is the popularity of the event, organisers have already opened a priority list for next year’s marathon, which will take place on October 11 next year.
Prof Mellors, pro-vice-chancellor for business and community, at the University of York, said the event will “provide a tangible economic boost for York”.
“The trails blazed by the London Marathon and the Great North Run illustrate the economic and recreational impact of such mass participation events. Each grew from relatively modest beginnings yet their respective value to the economies of London and the North East are now enormous.
“But the Yorkshire Marathon is, above all, a charity event synonymous with the Jane Tomlinson. Its 11 partner charities are both national and local. So the benefits will be widely shared by many deserving causes reaping direct financial benefit from the event.”
Coun Sonja Crisp, York Council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, said: “Based on forecasts of some 20,000 people including runners, their supporters and families coming this weekend, we would expect those visitors to generate some £1m economic benefit to the city.
“The first Yorkshire Marathon brought some significant profile and sporting entertainment to York and I’m delighted to welcome the event again in 2014,” she said.
The marathon is staged by Marathon Yorkshire Ltd, a sister company to Jane Tomlinson’s Run For All; the organisation behind the Leeds, Hull, York and Pennine-Lancashire 10Ks and the Leeds Half Marathon. Along with the other events, the marathon stands as part of the lasting legacy of the late fundraiser and campaigner Jane Tomlinson, from Leeds, who raised almost £2m for charity by tackling a series of epic challenges, including cycling over 4,000 miles across America, despite being diagnosed with incurable cancer.
First over the line last year was Kenyan Edwin Korir in a time of 2:13:31. Helen Koskei, also of Kenya, was the first woman home in 2:40:06. In their wake came thousands of others all with stories to tell and achievements to celebrate – not least raising up to £2m for a host of good causes.
Andy Baker, CEO of Plusnet, said: “It is rare that a debut event can be declared such a roaring success yet in 2013 the Yorkshire Marathon not only managed this, it also established itself as a ‘must do’ event for seasoned runners, both in the UK and across the globe.”
For those people who find the idea of taking on the full 26.2 miles too daunting, the Northern Gas Networks Yorkshire Marathon Corporate Relay offers the chance for teams to get involved, too. Groups of friends or colleagues can complete the course in relay form – each sharing a section of the course.
The Yorkshire Post is a media partner for the event.
A priority pre-sale list is now open for next year’s event. For more information and to register for the 2015 marathon, go to www.theyorkshiremarathon.com.