If compiling a checklist of attributes the ideal special event would possess and contribute to the local economy, the following ones might come to mind:
• It caters to an active lifestyle demographic that is highly mobile and has money to spend in this area.
• It promotes the non-comsumptive use of an underutilized local natural resource.
• No new, expensive infrastructure or community services are required to stage the event.
• It piggybacks directly onto a growing trend that gets abundant, free national publicity and press coverage year round.
• Signing up only one "customer" can easily bring one to five others into the local economy also.
• There is spin-off spending that goes directly into multiple sectors of the local economy.
• The event magnifies the benefit that local sponsors receive by tying their support directly with that of well-known national business sponsors.
Welcome to the Grand Mesa Ultramarathon, a local promotional athletic event that is now in its fourth year. The Grand Mesa Ultramarathon, alsoknown as the Grand Mesa 100, is an event that has grown under the stewardship of local entrepreneurs and dedicated volunteers.
It is achieving a renown in the world of ultramarathon runners; it is attracting participants from far-flung parts of the country and the world to this area; and, local organizers believe, by the benefits it brings it has attained the level of an economic development enterprise for this area.
The only thing that the Grand Mesa Ultramarathon lacks in terms of conventional economic development thinking is that it doesn't support any high tax bracket CEOs, COOs, CFOs, etc.
Anyone unconvinced of the economic impact from local events need only conjure up the following picture: Delta County summer street fairs. Some of the local economic spin-offs from the Grand Mesa Ultramarathon event are considerable, explains race publicity director Sandy Wilt of Cedaredge.
"When one runner signs up for the event he, or she, will often bring perhaps one or as many as four or five family members or friends to serve as race support, pacers, or just company along for the trip," Wilt says. "These additional people are here to stay in lodging,eat in restaurants, buy souvenirs, shop, and sightsee, contributing dollars to the local economy along the way."
Wilt cites research she has found showing these visitors spend from $82 to $198 per day while in our area. The race aims for 120 runners to keep the size manageable, meaning there are many more people than the number of racers in Cedaredge and the surrounding area for two to three days. They cause no disruption and require no police services. They don't block off streets. They spend money in town and go up on Grand Mesa to play, Wilt points out.
There are several national sponsors which have made the Grand Mesa Ultramarathon part of their marketing programs. Local businesses who have also teamed up to benefit from exposure the race brings are Starr's Guitars, Munson's Main St. Gallery, The Coffee Barn, Cedaredge Lodge, Biggins Pottery, and CB's Tavern.
Other local sponsors of the event are Uptown Wines of Delta which is giving a basket for the race dinner; Fat Cat Pottery is doing the finishing tiles for the first, second, and third place winners; and, Brymstone Pottery'sDavid Strong is helping with medals for the race.
Nationally known sponsors which support the event are Drymax Socks, Hammer, Nathan Sports, Zommie Runners, Crimson Cup Coffee, and Oil the Machine, Wilt says.
Phil Berghauser, a marathoner who lives at Eckert, has served as race director for the race throughout its existence. He is ably assisted with the indispensable help of his wife, Trudy and a core of volunteers who do it all.
And doing it all is a lot. It includes setting out a banquet for more than 100 guests; putting up trail markers for the 100-mile race across Grand Mesa (and then picking them up afterward); manning runners' aid stations; and remembering everything else that might have been forgotten.
Volunteers who help make the event possible include race director assistant Rick Schaefer and his wife Jane Dacosta Schaefer, Wilt, Lauren Berghauser, Andrew Rambeck, Steve Sweat, Nathan Cline, and Brandon and Kirsten Reynolds.
Berghauser explains, "I got into running ultramarathons about ten years ago. This led me to run the Leadville 100 several times. Running at Leadville and other races allowed me to meet some really interesting people. My running partner and assistant, Rick Schaefer, and I enjoyed running the trails up on the Grand Mesa. So I saw the potential to host a race there."
The race has grown since the first one. "Our first race was in 2010 with 72 runners," Berghauser said. "My staff faced steep learning curves with problems in trail marking and coordination. But we worked out the bugs and kept going.
"In 2011, 52 runners participated, and in 2012 there were 72 runners. Last year's race was a lot of fun, and the participants went away tired and happy. Registration for the 2013 race now stands at 43, and that should double by race day. The registered runners are from as close as Cedaredge to as far away as Germany."
The race couldn't happen without volunteers, and Berghauser credits many. "I can't underestimate the support of the Montrose Amateur Radio Club. Ron Rich helped me get the whole thing going and with Ron's passing, Robert and Mary Barclay and the rest of the club have continued to help the race run smoothly and safely," he said.
"Also, Mary and Robert also carry food and water by horseback out to Indian Point. And I have one exceptional volunteer, Sheila Anderson, who runs the Kannah Creek Aid Station dressed as a cow. That's right, we have a good time during the race, and our volunteers are indispensable," he adds.
The Grand Mesa Ultramarathon is similar to events like the Delta Trap Club's State Shoot held over Father's Day weekend. It caters to a specialized demographic that includes local participants and also draws others to the area from far away. Though these events are "under the radar" for many in the general public, their clientele are mobile and bring money to spend in the community while they are here. They provide, organizers believe, a positive economic impact to the area far beyond the small footprint they occupy.
The Grand Mesa Ultramarathon will be held on July 27 and 28 this year.blog comments powered by Disqus