The central Ohio economy stands to lose around $13 million with the cancellation of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, according to a race official.
The event puts about 18,000 runners and 100,000 spectators on central Ohio streets and in local businesses, race director Darris Blackford said.
Although 60% of runners are from central Ohio, 40% are from out of town, so they take advantage of such local amenities as hotels, restaurants, bars and retail outlets, Blackford said.
Because of the pandemic, the event’s board of trustees voted June 29 to cancel the race, slated for Oct. 18.
The board voted unanimously to provide a full refund of registration fees for 2020 registrants, Blackford said.
“To be fair with people, it was the right thing to do,” said Blackford, adding that the fees were $95 for marathon participants and $85 for half-marathon participants.
That money paid for such costs as permitting, police presence, fencing, signs, food and rental space at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, he said.
The fees offset the estimated $1.5 million cost of the race, which breaks even every year, Blackford said. The board has been conservative in its estimates and banked money for cost overruns, he said.
Blackford said that although the marathon date seems a long way off, the state’s prohibition of large assemblies still is in place and safe social-distancing rules would provide a logistical problem in spacing runners, spectators and the location of water and hand-sanitizer stations.
The Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University conducted a study in 2011 on the marathon’s impact on the local economy. It showed that in its 32-year history up to that time, the event had contributed $154 million to central Ohio, including $13 million in 2011, according to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s website.
Blackford said that figure likely has gone up incrementally since then but he did not have firm numbers to confirm that.
The marathon raises more than $1 million annually for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which became a race partner in 2012, he said.
The virus has caused the cancellation of several local attractions, starting with the Arnold Sports Festival and followed by the Sonic Temple Art & Music Festival, the Columbus Arts Festival, the Jazz & Rib Fest and several other events.
“We’ve always had the luxury of being last,” Blackford said.
“Obviously, we’re fully supportive of their decision to cancel,” said Steve Testa, president of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation. “The safety of the participants and spectators is of the utmost importance.”
Testa said the hospital will work with tour officials Children’s Champions program to engage remotely with sponsors to continue to raise funds this year.
Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon canceled
The COVID-19 coronavirus has caused another event cancellation: The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon in October.
In taking the action, the event’s board of trustees also voted unanimously to provide a full refund of registration fees for 2020 registrants, according to a news release sent June 29.
With great regret, the 2020 Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon is cancelled due to COVID-19. We are waiving this year's refund policy & all registrants will be notified via email regarding the reimbursement process. Learn more:https://t.co/Lx1TTK8eeTpic.twitter.com/TOesnlRYhn— Columbus Marathon (@CbusMarathon)June 29, 2020
The marathon marked its 40th anniversary last year, and the half marathon marked its 14th.
The 2020 race was scheduled Oct. 18.