Runners From 80 Countries Registered for 13th Annual Event
MIAMI, Fl., (January 12, 2015) – Miami Marathon Race Director Javier Sanchez and Director of Running Frankie Ruiz went to the Medio Maraton de Bogata in Colombia last July to continue building the blossoming relationship between Miami’s premier running event and the increasing number of runners from the Latin American country. They signed a great number of new runners on the spot and came home with an exchange relationship with Colombia’s largest running event, which will promote itself at the Health & Fitness Expo which precedes the Miami race.
In 2014, Colombia sent more than 600 runners in the field of 25,000 to the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon, produced by Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company (NYSE: LTM), a number that will increase by nearly 20% on January 25 when the 2015 edition of the race is run. Sanchez and Ruiz found interest in the Miami Marathon to be enormous once their presence in Bogota was recognized. Miami has become a destination race in Central and South America and the Latin American running community in general. Sanchez and Ruiz did a series of newspaper, television and radio interviews over three days in Bogota. The buzz has built to the point where the 2012 Miss Columbia, Lucia Aldana, is coming to Miami along with her famous actor husband Pedro Pallares to run the race. Local travel agencies in Bogota are now set up to process Miami Marathon registrations as part of travel packages. And some of the personalities at Miami-based Radio Caracol are also training for this year’s race.
“Our Miami Marathon has become a destination race for runners all over the world, and it was an honor to be so well received by the more than 40,000 half marathon participants in Bogota,” Sanchez said. “They produce an incredible race experience and we hope to introduce more and more of those runners to the special Miami Marathon experience. We have our eyes set on future cross-promotional growth between the two markets. Miami in January and Colombia in July is a good dual-race partnership.” About 60 percent of the runners who participate in the race through the streets of Miami, Miami Beach and Coconut Grove will be from the United States. But in addition to Colombia and Mexico, two countries with more than 600 entrants each, several other countries will send runners in large numbers such as Costa Rica (estimated 310), Canada (estimated 305), Brazil (estimated 300), Guatemala (estimated 250), Ecuador (estimated 152) and Puerto Rico (estimated 140). As a tribute to the growing international contingent of runners, the Miami Marathon will give each runner bibs that show the flag of the country from which they are traveling. “People have an incredible pride for the countries where they come from,” Sanchez said. “It is one slight way that we can honor our international participants and their homwtown roots. Everyone comes with a common goal and that is to run Miami. Colombia runs Miami. Mexico runs Miami. Canada runs Miami. That is a marketing experience we will continue to emphasize.” The influx of runners from South and Central America and the Caribbean is a huge boost to tourism in South Florida. The Miami Marathon and Half Marathon had an economic impact of almost $65 million last year, a number that increased 13% from 2013 and should rise again this year. The event also generated 26,736 hotel room nights. An Economic Impact Study by the Sports Industry Research Center at Temple University also found that each International participant spent an average of $2,659 on the trip and that more than half of the runners who came to Miami for the race planned to return again within 12 months.
“Miami is the most global U.S. destination with more than half of all its tourists coming from international markets,” said Rolando Aedo, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau."Much of this success is due to the many world-class events that call Miami home including the Miami Marathon. Participants in this race mirror our top feeder markets and greatly contribute to the economic impact of the tourism industry.
“We are especially proud of how this home-grown event has grown over the years and how it creatively showcases the many communities that make up this tropical, cosmopolitan paradise.” Marcela Todd, a Fort Lauderdale resident and runner who grew up in Colombia and now runs the wellness program at Motorola headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, has volunteered to serve as the Miami Marathon’s “Ambassador” to the Colombian running delegation. It’s a model the race may ultimately incorporate for other countries. Todd interacts with runners and races back home in Colombia in an attempt to grow participation in Miami.
“I have lived here 26 years, love the race, love the sport and I want to help bring it back to Colombia,” said Todd, who has run 52 marathons herself. “Colombia is a beautiful country with a lot of athletes and runners. I want them to have the opportunity to come here and experience a beautiful Miami Marathon. We have the Colombian community engaged not just from Colombia, but from here as well.” Ruiz has no doubt that the future growth of the race is going to come more from Latin America than the United States and South Florida in particular. He and Sanchez hope to return to Bogota next summer and continue to expand the international marketing effort into new markets.
“Much like Miami’s business future will depend on how well it serves and markets to Latin America, the Miami Marathon is also focused on that same formula for its success,” Ruiz said. “I am a firm believer that we will have more than 50% of our participants coming from outside the US in the near future. The ease of travel and the cultural familiarity of Miami make it extremely attractive to the Latin American runner.” There’s still time to register for the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon at themiamimarathon.com.
Marathon Registration is $155 through January 18 and then $175. Half Marathon registration is $130 through January 18 and then $150.