Phoenix may host 4 more P.F. Chang marathons

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It’s almost official: Phoenix may continue to host the annual P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and 1/2 Marathon through 2017.

The Phoenix City Council’s Parks and Arts Subcommittee recently recommended approval of an agreement to continue hosting the event, which made its first appearance in the nation’s sixth-largest city in 2004. The full council will consider the item on Oct. 16.

More than 19,000 runners participated in this year’s race, which generated $273,358 in sales tax, according to a council agenda item. The council cited a participant survey that San Diego State University conducted for race organizer Competitor Group Inc. after the January race.

“The economic impact it has on Phoenix is the main benefit of hosting the marathon,” said James P. Burke, acting director of the Parks and Recreation Department. “It draws in runners from all over that need a hotel room. It markets restaurants in the area, and it brands the city.”

In return, the city provides in-kind services from Parks and Recreation,download (1) Police, Fire, Street Transportation, Public Works, Water and Public Transit departments and the convention center.

City officials said this year’s race cost the city about $170,000.

“We looked at direct sales-tax benefit versus the cost, and we wanted to make sure it still made financial sense for the city,” parks spokesman David Urbinato said. “And clearly, it does.”

“The economic benefit still is far outweighing the cost. And it still has those less tangible benefits of bringing a lot of people to Phoenix, showing off the Convention Center and showing off the city.”

Phoenix costs

The city’s largest single cost in 2013 was for barricades at $72,000, Urbinato said.

Police overtime and water services charges — to prepare hydrants along the route for drinking-water use — were the next two largest expenses, he said.

Urbinato said this year’s race cost about 25 percent more for barricades than the previous year because of “a route adjustment for the 2013 event that was very barricade intensive.”

Officials changed the route to improve neighborhood-vehicle access along the northern part of the Phoenix race. The race utilizes about 20 miles of Phoenix streets.

Urbinato said the city expects costs for 2014 to be similar to 2013.

Marathon popularity

The marathon series comprises 29 events throughout the United States and in countries around the world.

San Diego hosted the first one, and it has grown exponentially from there.

However, the 2013 participant numbers for the Arizona race were down from the 34,000 reported in the event peak years of 2007 and 2008, according to the city.

Still, runners said they enjoyed the event.

“Running is a passion of mine,” triathlete Lori Armstrong said. “I’ve run the P.F. Chang’s marathon three or four times now. It is among my favorites hosted in the state of Arizona.”

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Many avid runners use the P.F. Chang’s marathon to qualify for other races, such as the Boston Marathon.

The marathon hosted in Phoenix is well-known for its record-setting statistics. In 2006, Haile Gebrselassie set a world record for running a half-marathon in 58 minutes 55 seconds. The record was broken by two seconds one year later. Two other half-marathon race records were set in 2010.

The race itself connects Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. Both the half marathon and the mini marathon start in Tempe, while the full marathon starts in downtown Phoenix at CityScape plaza.

All three races end between Sun Devil and Sun Angel stadiums on the Arizona State University campus.

Dan Cruz, a spokesman for Competitor Group and an avid marathon runner, said the P.F. Chang’s marathon in Phoenix is one of the five largest events organized by his company.

“It is one of the premier running events in the country,” he said. “Arizona is an awesome place to host it because it is one of the only places you can run a major road race in the winter, and it is by far one of the largest long-distance road races held in January.”

The event includes a Health and Fitness Expo and a Finish Line Festival, which features a band. And it features a wheelchair race and bike tour.

Next year’s race is Jan. 19.

Urbinato said the agreement renewal stipulates that the marathon start and Health and Fitness Expo will remain in downtown Phoenix for the duration of the agreement.

“It’s been a long, constructive relationship, and it makes sense to continue it,” he added. “It’s a positive race and a positive experience.”

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source: AZCentral by Victoria Cohen

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Categories: Runners, Sports

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