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Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 9:33am

Savannah, On Your Mark! 30,000 Visitors Coming

Updated: 4 years ago.
Frank Shorter was the last American to win an Olympic gold metal in the marathon. He was on hand for the annoucement that Savannah has landed a major running event that will draw tens of thousands of visitors. About a third of the 20,000 runners are expected be from coastal Georgia and South Carolina. The rest will come from around the country, providing a major economic boost for the tourism-dominated city. (photo Orlando Montoya)

Officials have announced a major sporting event coming to Savannah next year.

The Rock and Roll Marathon could bring more visitors to the coastal city than came for the 2004 G8 Summit.

Over its three year contract, the marathon and half-marathon, with music, promises to pack a big economic punch.

Peter Englehart, CEO of the Competitor Group, the San Diego-based company putting on the event, says, Savannah should expect at least 20,000 runners each year.

"If our series statistics hold true in Savannah, and we think they will, each one of those runners also brings 1.4 visitors with them," Englehart says. "So, it'll be well in excess of 30,000 people visiting your great city."

Ben Wilder of the Savannah Sports Council says, the city has been working for a year and a half to be part of the Rock and Roll Marathon, which is hosted in 14 cities nationwide.

"It's just going to fill every hotel. It's going to fill all the restaurants," Wilder says. "Most cities that have had this event, they've claimed it to be the best weekend of the year."

The first run will take place in November of 2011.

It'll feature two runs, one shorter and one longer, with rock bands at the start, the finish and along the route.

Savannah bid for the event along with many other cities.

Most of the cities that were selected were much larger than Savannah, including Chicago, Seattle and Philadelphia.

At the event's announcement in downtown Savannah, a local rock band blasted music while college cheerleaders pumped up a crowd that included many running enthusiasts.