About 120 employees of Brookshires Grocery Co. are expected to be among roughly 2,000 athletes hitting Tyler streets this weekend as part of one of three running events planned for Sunday.
Two years ago, the city’s first marathon event drew 1,800 participants, with only 30 percent of those registrants living in Tyler, she said.
Last year, that figure grew to 45 percent of the 2,061 participants, records show.
And this year, local officials are hoping for about 2,200 with plenty of out-of-town guests.
Ms. Morris said the strong showing of guests creates a healthy boost to Tyler tourism, generating on average about $160,000 in economic benefits from lodging and dining.
“It’s hugely important,” she said of the event’s impact on the local tourism. “Most of these folks are going to stay at least one night in Tyler. Plus they’re bringing friends and family … it’s a huge economic impact.”
Brookshire’s public relations director Sam Anderson said grocery employees have been training for months, and many are coming from out of town to compete.
The company is footing the entry fee for 120 of its employees, he said.
“We’re excited,” Anderson said. “This is a component of our wellness program, to encourage people to live healthy lifestyles. It’s gotten to be a big deal.”
Sunday’s three races, organized by Mellew Productions, Inc., are expected to launch from Tyler’s Rose Garden Center area, 420 Rose Park Drive, officials said.
Courses are USA Track and Field certified and can qualify finishers for the Boston Marathon.
Routes are intended to showcase East Texas and include country scenes, hills and shaded pastures as well as established neighborhoods with stately trees.
Online registration is available until 6 p.m. today at www.tylermarathon.com.
No registration is accepted on race morning.
Registered racers can pick up their packets today until 6 p.m. at the Rose Garden Center; before 7 a.m. Sunday.
Sunday’s marathon is set to start at 7:30 a.m., followed by the half marathon at 8 a.m. and the Tyler Fit City 5K at 8:15 a.m.
An award ceremony for the 5K winners will begin at 9:15 a.m., with marathon and half marathon awards at 10:45 a.m.
A full listing of local activities and events calendar may be found at the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau website, www.visittyler.com.