ST. GEORGE, Utah - It’s considered one of the fastest and most scenic marathons in the country. This weekend, close to 7,000 people will race through the red rocks of southern Utah.
The runners started arriving on Friday for the running and health expo, gearing up for the big race, but the main event will start early Saturday in Central, Utah. The 26.2-mile route winds through the countryside to downtown St. George.
“It means a lot to the city,” said marathon organizer and Leisure Services director Kent Perkins. “About four million dollars of revenue comes into the city.”
Perkins said highlighting southern Utah is one of the main reasons the city has sponsored the marathon for the past 38 years. He said that economic impact goes far beyond anything anyone will spend this weekend here in St. George.
“It’s surprising when we do our economic studies, sometimes we’ll see numbers that seem like they’re out of whack,” Perkins said. “Turns out somebody bought a house, or while they were here they bought a car. Or made a choice. That choice was perhaps when they wanted to come back.”
Highway 18 will be closed until about 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. City roads will have intermittent closures to accommodate runners. Volunteers said while it does bring big crowds to town, they’re glad to help show off the state.
“They get to see a part of the America that other people don’t see,” said Mario Buonafede. “Instead of going to New York or L.A., they see St. George.”
For more information on the marathon course and road closures, visit the marathon’s website.