What is “sports tourism?”
Sports tourism is where the primary motivation for a tourist to visit a particular destination is a sports event. Sports tourists are often looking for more traditional touristic or leisure elements to reinforce the experience of the visit.
The Hatfield McCoy Marathon began in 2000 and has taken place the second weekend in June every year since.
David Hatfield started the race in 2000 as race director, and Alexis Batuasa joined him as assistant race director in 2012 after having competed in the race in 2009.
What began as two races, a half marathon and marathon has now evolved to include five running options:
- The Hatfield McCoy Marathon,
- Blackberry Mountain Half Marathon,
- River Road Half Marathon,
- Double Half Marathon,
- …and a 5K.
The Marathon has you running through Kentucky and West Virginia, taking you back in time through the history of the Hatfields and McCoys. The night before the race, organizers put on a skit starring “Devil” Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy re-enactors.
The race is listed on The Weather Channel’s “15 Toughest Marathons in the World,” and was recognized by Runners World Magazine last January/February issue – as one of the “Bucket List: 10 Fun Marathons.” And it was rewarded this year with the 2016 Kentucky State Marathon Championship with the Road Runners Club of America.
“The Hatfield McCoy Marathon is the #1 event when it comes to the economic impact for the region,” Batuasa says. “Runners and their families come from all around the country and the world and spend a weekend in Hatfield McCoy Country.”
“The community is key when putting on a huge event like this. The local running club, the Tug Valley Road Runners Club, helps put it on with the likes of volunteers from all around the region with local fire departments, civic organizations and businesses, law enforcement, chamber of commerce, churches, and more!”
Residents of the region have been able to see the benefits of the annual race to the region through the years. This has resulted in everyone pitching in across all sectors every year to make this event better and better.
According to a Tourism Impact Study by WVU Extension Professor Bill Richardson, the race generated $670,000 in direct spending and at least $2,010,000 in economic impact in 2014.
“For our region, it is estimated that the race brought in $402,000 in income and $1,206,000 in impact,” the report states. “For the town of Williamson, the estimated income was $192,960 and the impact $578,880. The Hatfield McCoy Marathon is the single largest tourism event in Williamson.”
Is sports tourism an industry that other communities across the state can capitalize on? Most definitely! Fayetteville is another that is already doing it.
So what about rail-trails and water trails?
Check out this annual paddle tour in Michigan: Paddle a Kayak Between 6 Different Breweries on the Traverse City Beer Tour