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St. George marathon grows, boosts local economy



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ST. GEORGE -- Thousands of runners are icing sore muscles Saturday night following the St George Marathon earlier that morning.

It was a record year for the marathon --the 100-thousandth runner crossed the finish line. Officials are hoping that record brings in record money for the area. Last year the economic impact was more than $4million in hotel rooms, plane tickets and of course: carb-loaded foods There were 15,000 feet on St. George roads today, each step bringing runners closer to the finish. But 26 miles don't come easy.

"You can talk yourself out of a lot but when you have four or five other people around you saying, "you can do it, we can do thing together, you can make it," it keeps you going," said Ashley Newby, runner.

For some groups, like the Marathon Mommas, it's not as much about the miles as it is the friendship.

"You coming running and you can just tell if someone is having a hard day and you zero in on her and help her through," said Tiffany Graff, runner.

The Marathon Mommas got their name during a trip to the Boston Marathon years ago. They were all young moms with a passion for running. Now, some are grandmas.

"It's kept me yong at heart," said Holly Keenan, runner. "The big 50 is coming up pretty soon and i have to say i don't feel like it."

Out of the 7,500 runners, there are undoubtedly more than 7,500 reasons for doing marathons. The St. George marathon has grown over the years to become the 15th largest in the country, and you better believe business owners and city officials notice.

"It's a big boon to the economy here," said Brett Remund , owner of Great Harvest Bread in St. George. "Things like that and the senior games. There seems to be something all year long that supports the economy."

In part, the hope is that marathoners will notice the beauty of St. George and make a vacation out of the race or visit again with friends and family. With 48 states and 12 countries represented this year, that's sure to happen.

"For many it's their first time and as they drive our course and look through our country they say, 'why didn't i know this was here before?' the Dixie spirit is alive," said Dan McArthur mayor of St. George.

About 60 percent of the runners are from Utah, and the other 40 percent are from elsewhere, and only 80 percent of those runners finish the race.

Sarah Dallof

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