Boston Marathon and the economies of marathon tourism

Boston is anticipating a $200 million economic windfall on the wings of the 128th Boston Marathon delivering the largest bump from the event since the pandemic. The marathon, taking place on 15 April, is set to welcome 30,000 runners and a vast number of spectators from 130 countries. It heralds a full-scale return to the cherished Patriot’s Day tradition after the event shifted to a virtual format or limited attendance during the covid era.

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Organizers are expecting a massive influx of visitors, with Boston Chamber of Commerce chief Jim Rooney comparing the marathon weekend’s impact to that of the Super Bowl. Some hotels have been booked months in advance of the event, with average prices of roughly $510 a night, according to Hopper. Local restaurants are preparing for full houses, said Rooney. 

Alex Galitsky, a participant who’s run more than 20 marathons, managed to secure a three-night hotel stay for $1,300, which he considers a bargain given the current market. “It’s a very prestigious marathon but it’s so expensive,” said Galitsky, 48, who works in market research for pharmaceuticals at Ipso SA.

The Boston Athletic Association is organizing the race, which will see competitors vying for a coveted title and a substantial prize purse of $1.2 million. The historic 26.2-mile (42-kilometer) race, stretching from Hopkinton to the heart of the city at Copley Square, is one of the world’s oldest annual marathons. Bank of America Corp. is stepping in this year as the marathon’s new primary sponsor. 

The event is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of supporters, with weather forecasters predicting sunny skies and a high of 65F (18C), a bit too warm for most runners. The crowd, donning famed red socks and armed with cowbells and posters, will create a vibrant atmosphere, all under the watchful eyes of security personnel. The heightened safety measures and increased medical services are a response to the 2013 bombings, which killed three people and injured hundreds of other spectators near the finish line.

Christina Abossedgh, a senior compliance officer and vice president at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., will be among the thousands running for charity — she’s raising funds for Expect Miracles Foundation, which focuses on cancer research.  “Cancer reaches and touches everybody,” she said. “When people think of marathons, they think of a handful and Boston is one of them. I wanted to make sure I was hitting on a subject that I can’t pick up the pen or pick up the lab coat and work on myself.” 

Abossedgh, 38, is taking the Amtrak from New York City with her two Yorkies. “I’m beyond excited that they’re coming,” she said. This will be her sixth overall marathon and her fourth major one.

The economic impact of the marathon will extend far beyond race day — it also marks the unofficial start of Boston’s tourism season. With the pandemic era receding, Rooney envisions a banner year for tourism, bolstered by the return of in-person university graduations and an uptick in city visits. “It will be the biggest year for tourism since the pandemic, with people eager to return to travel,” said Rooney.

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