by Jennifer Stoll
In my September blog, I touched on my feelings regarding the special place we live and work, and our unparalleled quality of life. One way we can enjoy what our community has to offer is through the plethora of amazing events that take place across Mesa County on any given day.
I’m going to give you clues to see if you can name a certain event in the Grand Valley. This event has been around since the 1990s. It has been voted one of the most beautiful events of its kind. It has also been voted one of the most challenging events of its kind (we’ll circle back to this point). This event is local, and 100% of proceeds benefit a local non-profit and student-athlete scholarships. The last clue, it used to be held “gate to gate” on the Monument, but now it’s a full 26.2 miles.
If you guessed the US Bank Rim Rock Run, you are correct!
The Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission (GGJSC) and Colorado Mesa University Track & Field and Cross Country programs are only one week away from hosting the US Bank Rim Rock Marathon on November 4th. The event has an interesting history in the Grand Valley; one our organizations hope to continue into the future for a variety of reasons.
In 2013, when the GGJSC first got involved, the event consisted of approximately 140 participants. It grew to more than 400 by 2016. As I type, the current registration count is a whopping 505! I’m not a math person, but I think that’s around a 260% growth in 4 years! Here’s the kicker…we spent zero dollars marketing it in 2017. Yes, that is correct, ZERO.
I believe the event has grown for a variety of reasons, including the fact our product is great. You can’t pick a better course than over Rim Rock Drive. We strived to make it a community event in downtown Fruita with a beer garden, vendors, live music and more. We listened to our customers and added a half marathon option (good idea, as 386 of those 505 are registered for the half), and good ol’ word of mouth marketing has spread our message for us.
Here are the facts from our current registration. We have participants from three countries (USA, UK, and Romania) and 31 states. More than 35% of participants are between the ages of 30 and 39. Two-thirds of all participants are females. A standard measure of distance in the tourism world is a 50-mile radius, and at that mark, 70% are non-locals (meaning they plan to travel more than 50 miles to participate), and 30% are considered locals (reside within a 50-mile radius). Each participant brings an average of 2.5 spectators.
So what does this mean?
From an economic impact perspective, we love to see the high non-local participation numbers. Participants – and those who come with them – bring much appreciated “new money” into our economy through taxes derived from staying in our hotels, dining in our restaurants and visiting our attractions. In an ideal world, they even make plans to return! Industry statistics from the National Association of Sports Commissions say that for a market of our size, each visitor spends between $168 and $221 per day. Our goal with non-local participants is to welcome them with Western Slope hospitality.
Often sports commission stop right there. Not the case with us. Although we love the non-local participation, the 30% local participation number, is bothersome to me. I want our sports commission to provide opportunities for local participation just as importantly as non-local participation.
Yes, the Rim Rock is challenging, BUT, I have seen every running level finish both the half and the full. My fondest Rim Rock memory is of a woman who walked the entire marathon – her first – and crossed the finish line with her two kids and husband by her side in tears of joy.
If you didn’t register for our event or others this year, that’s certainly fine. However, if you’ve been considering setting a goal to participate in the Rim Rock or any other, let me encourage you that there is no better time than now. There are so many wonderful events in our community and great resources such as Healthy Mesa County, running clubs, the CMU Kinesiology Lab, and others that can help you plan and encourage you along the way.
Remember the old quote from Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Who knows, you may be the one crossing the finish line proving to yourself that you CAN do the unimaginable!
Check out more at the Finish Area for the US Bank Rim Rock Run in Downtown Fruita’s Circle Park on Saturday, November 4th from 10 am to 3 pm. We hope to see you there!