Grunion Gazette - Long Beach

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Business Owners See Benefits In Long Beach ICB Marathon

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Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012 6:00 am

As 25,000 people pedal, run and walk through Long Beach this Sunday for the 2012 International City Bank Marathon, business owners are hoping to hear some clinks in the cash register.

In fact, the estimated economic impact of the ICB Marathon is more than $7 million in direct spending on race weekend plus an additional $20 million indirect impact on the local economy, according to a study conducted in 2010 by Forward Analytics.

Steve Goodling, chairman and CEO of the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the value of the marathon is clear during race weekend and beyond.

“The Long Beach Marathon is an actual boost to presenting our city to many people who live within the region who have not come into the city to see the enhancements and changes that have occurred,” Goodling said. “This is a great showcase.”

He added that many hotels in the city are expected to be fully booked on Friday and Saturday nights since many people who participate in the race also stay in Long Beach for a night or two and participate in pre-race activities such as the Health & Fitness Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center (Friday and Saturday) and the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Kids Run (Saturday).

One pre-race tradition is Buono’s annual Mamma Mia Carbo-Load Dinner Feast that takes place at 5 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. (two seatings) at 250 W. Ocean Blvd. Buono’s is a major sponsor and is the “Official Pizza of the Long Beach Marathon.”

“I have a personal interest in this event because I am a runner — I’ve been running the marathon or the half marathon for many years and will be doing it again this year,” said Buono’s owner Frank Buono, 54. “There’s a great balance between staying in shape and enjoying yourself. Running allows you to do that.”

He said runners should eat plenty of carbs before the race, which is why the event at the circa-1973 Buono’s is perfect for runners looking to fill up before race day. The tradition at Buono’s, he added, has been good for business in general. There are three Buono’s locations (two in Long Beach and one in San Pedro).

“Customers who are from out of town are not our target market, but they do remember us from the carbo-load dinner and come in for lunch and dinner before the event — we have a following now of people from other states and countries,” Buono said. “Being part of the event and having something in the goodie bag also introduces us to runners who are local, and we reach a target market.”

Another business sponsoring the marathon is C2O Pure Coconut Water. This is the first time the Long Beach-based company has been a marathon sponsor, and C2O President Adam Biggs said they have signed on as sponsors for the next three races.

C2O was founded by Ron Greene in 2008 and the business has expanded from being basically a man in a van to a company that distributes coconut water nationwide to Whole Foods and other natural grocers. The company is based in the Union Bank building downtown. 

“The marathon is the first major investment we’ve made to promote our brand, and it is a great partnership because the event is local and targets customers who want to lead healthy, active lifestyles,” Biggs said. “This is a great opportunity for us to get in front of consumers and get them to try our product. We are going to be giving out about 20,000 samples at the finish line. This is great for the runners because our product is 100% natural and has more than a banana’s worth of potassium.”

Along the race course, marathoners will pass by Shoreline Village, as well as other business districts in the city. Shoreline Village property manager Maureen Baker said that businesses in the area seem to support the event and don’t complain about any of the related road closures.

“They (Run Racing organizes the event) open up the street and access to our venue early enough in the morning that it has no visible negative impact on us,” Baker said. “Most business starts to happen around 11 a.m. or noon anyway.”

She added that the event is good for exposing potential new customers to Shoreline Village, and said, “Any exposure is good exposure. This is a good opportunity for Long Beach to have some of the name recognition it has with the Grand Prix.”

Other businesses, some local and some not, get involved with the Long Beach Marathon through vendor booths at the Health and Fitness Expo at the Convention Center or on race day.

Phyllis Blanchard, Run Racing event coordinator, said there will be 100 vendors at the Long Beach Marathon as well as local nonprofits (such as Special Olympics of Southern California and others), organizations such as Long Beach Transit, and businesses related to nutrition or running.

For more about the 2012 International City Bank Marathon and its related events, visit RunLongBeach.com.