BASS LAKE – More than 1,600 runners flocked to the mountain area last weekend for the first-ever Yosemite Half-Marathon around Bass Lake, bringing in about $1.5 million tourist dollars for local communities, according to early estimates.
That makes the Yosemite Half-Marathon, starting 10 miles up Beasore Road and coming down through The Pines Resort and around Bass Lake to Rec Point, the absolute definition of a win-win event.
“There are always hiccups with an inaugural race, but for the most part we couldn’t have hoped for things to go any better. A big thanks to the community for their cooperation and support.”
The company says they appreciate the cooperation of the USFS/Sierra Nevada Forest and the National Parks Service, as well as local businesses, including The Pines, Bass Lake Water Sports, Miller’s Landing and the Forks.
Mariposa and Chawanakee school districts helped out, too, says Craig, along with Yosemite High School Cross Country Team, and the Boys and Girls Club.
The CHP and Madera County Sheriff’s Deputies contributed to outstanding traffic control, say organizers, and the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau (YSVB) was instrumental in setting up the event, two years in the making and completely sold out.
Ultimately, says Craig, “we had 1,686 runners finish the race. The fastest men’s time was 1:10:44 and the fastest women’s time was 1:21:51.” Runners came from 45 states and four countries, according to Vacation Races. Of those, 31% had never visited Yosemite or the surrounding area before the race.
“I attended the race and met people from all over the country, and as far away as China,” says Rhonda Salisbury, CEO of Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau.
“It was a very successful event and next year we’re going to step up the race, and communication, and hope to have more local runners, as well as local people to get out there and greet these marathoners and cheer them on!”
There’s good reason to cheer them on. The full tally isn’t in yet, but research indicates that marathon runners, specifically, spend an average of $350 per day while on location for a destination race. They stay for a couple of days, and bring family along for the experience.
Area businesses like Miller’s Landing and The Forks stayed open an additional two weeks past their usual season closing time to accommodate the runners, extending the local tourist season productively.
Next year’s event is expected to be even bigger and better, organizers agree, because 2016 is the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service, and the Yosemite Half-Marathon plans to celebrate accordingly.
Check #yosemitehalf to see pictures of the race and runners exploring the park on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Photos courtesy of Vacation Races