Click photo to enlarge
Tegenu Beru, 29, of San Jose, competes in the Oakland Marathon on Sunday, March 27, 2011 in Oakland, California. Beru finished the race in first place with a time of 2:30:08. (Aric Crabb/Staff)

OAKLAND -- Runners and their friends pumped more than $3 million into city stores, restaurants, transit agencies and entertainment venues during the Oakland Running Festival last weekend, according to a report from the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University in Maryland.

The $3 million figure is based on money spent by the 7,300 runners and the friends and family they brought with them to the races, according to the report, commissioned and paid for by race organizers Corrigan Sports Enterprises.

The report takes into account that 19 percent of the runners, 1,387 people, came from outside of Oakland and likely spent more money on hotels, transportation, meals and entertainment than those who live locally. Based upon prior research, U.S. Census data and a computerized economic assessment model, economists calculated that for every out-of-town runner, an additional 1.8 guests accompanied the runner, and also spent money, the report shows.

The report estimates that some who came from outside of Oakland for the races spent about $445 each during race weekend, which included a twilight 5k on March 26 and a kids fun run, relay, half-marathon and full marathon March 27.


Advertisement

Becky Sosa Hernandez, 37, of San Jose, and a friend came to Oakland because Sosa Hernandez ran the evening 5k, and the half-marathon. She figures they spent about $500 before leaving last Sunday afternoon.

"I stayed at the Marriott, ate at Scott's (Seafood), Miss Pearl's (Jam House), Home of Chicken and Waffles, and a quaint Vietnamese restaurant across from the hotel. I also made a pit stop at Rite Aid. (I) thoroughly enjoyed my running and eating experiences in Oakland," Sosa Hernandez said.

She usually comes to Oakland to attend baseball games.

"But being there this weekend and seeing Jack London Square and seeing how nice it is at night, made me realize (it) has a lot more to offer. My excursions into Oakland have ended where the Oakland Coliseum is. But while running I was making mental notes of places that I definitely want to go back and explore," she said.

"I've told all my friends about the chicken and waffles,'' she added.

This was the second year that Corrigan Sports Enterprises, a Maryland company that has coordinated the Baltimore Running Festival for the past decade, has organized and bankrolled the races. Oakland had not had a marathon in 25 years when Corrigan came to town in 2010. The festival will return March 24-25, 2012, organizers said.

The company spent about $750,000 to put on the festival and received about $150,000 in-kind donations, such as water, advertising and energy food for runners, said company founder Lee Corrigan.

Still, Corrigan donated to Oakland and Alameda County charities. Running for a Better Oakland got $2,500; Alameda County Medical Center took $3,500; Friends of Oakland Parks and Rec got a check for $1,000, as did the Alameda County Community Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and Mary's Meals, a charity of Greenlight Apparel, which donates 10 percent of its sales to fight child labor. Additionally, the remaining water and fruit from the races was donated to a local homeless shelter.

While the economic windfall for Oakland was positive, the races also showcased the city to many who otherwise might not come to Oakland. The field represented people from 39 states and six other countries, and so far the feedback has been top-notch, said race spokesman Dave Gell.

"The financial impact is accountable, but the public relations impact should be assessed as well," said Greenlight spokesman Ryan Chamberlain. "I'm not sure how you quantify the goodwill generated by several thousand people from all over the world going on a 26.2-mile street-level tour of the city and then reporting back nothing but good stories. This event makes Oakland look really good."

Almost all the comments on the Oakland Running Festival Facebook page have been positive, including one from runner Aileen Cota.

"ORF -- another phenomenal showing," Cota wrote. "Thank you for showcasing all of the diverse neighborhoods of Oakland. It was a treat for me to come back and reminisce about my childhood stomping ground. It was a harder course I thought with the change, but maybe next year I'll return better trained.

"Great job all around, loved the medal, the shirt, Oakland police and fire department(s), the people of Oakland, cheering and most of all -- all the wonderful volunteers. It was a treat to see the community come together as one."