MANKATO — A hint of disappointment surfaced in the voices of Mankato Marathon organizers Monday when final participation numbers were discussed.
As Anna Thill, president of the Greater Mankato Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that when you aim for 5,000 and come in at 4,064, there’s bound to be a little disappointment. The 5K and KidsK registrations were lower than expected, she said.
A major factor had to do with same-day registrations.
“We didn’t have that growth we expected on race-day registrations,” Thill said. “(Those) registrations were much lower than expected. ... When you set expectations, sometimes you just want to meet them.”
But that’s not to say that 4,100 people isn’t a great reflection on the event, Thill said. About 3,800 people participated last year, so numbers did increase.
“The growth is still wonderful,” she said. “Hopefully, next year we’ll see that growth even further.”
Thill said the estimated economic impact of the weekend-long event was about $1.5 million. In addition to the 4,100 participants, the weekend included about 6,000-8,000 spectators, so a few hundred fewer runners didn’t make much of a dent in dollar projections on everything from meals purchased and hotel stays, she said.
Restaurants were busy all weekend with long waiting lists, and servers at restaurants such as Grizzly’s, Olive Garden and Baker’s Square cited the marathon as one reason for the increase in business.
Area hotel managers also said rooms were booked all weekend, including the Holiday Inn Express on Adams Street, said general manager Gerry Burke. Burke said the marathon has been good for business every year.
“I would say definitely it was part of why we were full,” he said. “The marathon definitely has an impact on the Greater Mankato area.”
Steve Tacheny, general manager of Hilton Garden Inn, said his hotel was full, as it usually is when Mankato hosts a large event.
“Whenever there’s something going on in the city, for all intents and purposes, we do pretty well,” he said.
The race also happened to end right alongside the Hilton on Riverfront Drive with the northbound lanes of the street blocked off for race participants. But Tacheny said the race route didn’t affect Sunday morning business that much.
“There’s a bit of a disruption, but it’s nothing that can’t be managed,” he said.
Thill said it’s hard to pinpoint why race-day registrations were low. She said it’s possible MEA weekend played a part, or perhaps people opted to run in the Fargo Mini Marathon.
“We’re not sure what is going on,” she said. “We really can’t put a finger on it. We just know those race-day registrations were expected to be higher, and it wasn’t there.”
Last year the marathon was held on a Saturday. But Thill said she doesn’t think holding the event on a Sunday this year had a considerable negative effect on registrations. Pre-registrations were in line with expectations, she said. If people were going to go to church in lieu of running the race, they would have made that plan well in advance and would not have been among the same-day registrants anyhow, she said.
So, she said, plans are moving forward to hold the event on the fourth weekend of October 2013 with the 10K, half and full marathons on Sunday, Oct. 20. Organizers are hoping for better numbers next year, but Thill said, overall, this year’s event went “really, really well.”
“The weekend was really a success overall,” Thill said. “It was a great turnout.”