MISSOULA — Thursday’s announcement that this year’s Missoula Marathon has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns means none of those usual tourists spending money in Missoula.
"This is going to be a tough year in Missoula around events,” noted Destination Missoula director Barbara Neilan.
News of the first-ever cancellation of the Missoula Marathon means runners won't be coming to town or spending their money.
"It's a big bummer for a lot of people, but there's obviously bigger issues out there today,” said Runner’s Edge owner Anders Brooker.
Race Director Tony Banovich says canceling was the best option, but he's aware of the economic impact. He told MTN News the event costs in the high six figures, with some money going to vendors, traffic control, and road set up.
"That's money that's not going to our local economy, that we always plan for to happen. There's no winners in this scenario,” Banovich said.
Neilan – who estimates the Missoula Marathon brings in about $2 million to the local economy -- says she hopes Gov. Steve Bullock will allow for a tourist season later in the year.
"My hope is that we will at least be able to make up some of that when the community is comfortable and welcoming people back in,” Neilan said.
But for now, restaurants, hotels, breweries, and retail businesses will all be affected by the loss of the Missoula Marathon.
Booker says he plans the year around the marathon, knowing it usually brings people in, “it's a very important part of our businesses."
He also noted that not only does the event drive sales, it gets people excited.
“it's also been a driver for locals to get active and get involved. There's so many people that we know today that participate in walking or running because of the Missoula Marathon,” Brooker explained.
He says they are considering virtual components to get people involved in the store, “trying to look at the big picture, and stay positive, and think about what opportunities will come from this."
About 6,000 people participated in the 2019 Missoula Marathon.