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Monday, October 31, 2011 - 12:40pm

Savannah Prepares For Rock Marathon

Twenty three thousand runners and their supporters from all 50 states and 31 countries are preparing for a Savannah marathon expected to swell the city later this week.

Runners are increasing their consumption of carbohydrates.

Officials, meanwhile, are urging patience.

Runners are trickling in, but the read crunch is expected to start on Thursday.

That's when finding a hotel room or a parking space will become harder as the Rock 'n Roll Marathon starts early on Saturday morning.

City officials Monday laid out plans for dealing with the influx.

These plans include shuttles from suburban locations into downtown and dozens of street closures.

The downtown Historic District is expected to be something just short of inpenetrable for vehicles on Saturday morning.

"It's not easy," says Joe Marinelli, President of Visit Savannah, the area's tourism agency. "This will have its bumps. It won't be without its potential for changing and fine tuning and so forth. Be we couldn't be more pleased."

Marinelli expects $25 million in visitor spending related to the marathon.

That's just direct spending on things like hotels, restaurants, souvenirs and tours.

Indirect spending estimates -- the ripple effect through the economy -- weren't availbale.

The Rock 'n Roll Marathon features more than 40 musical acts on 25 stages along the route and is held across the country.

Savannah is the smallest city ever chosen to hold one, magnifying its impact.

It'll be held in Savannah for at least two more years, and possible longer.

Meanwhile, runners like Tharon Lambert of the Savannah Striders running club are in the tail end of their preparations.

"Especially when you first get into running, sometimes music can help you and pump you up," Lambert says. "Certain songs can do that to you. One of the songs that I like is, Phil Collins has a song called In the Air Tonight."

Lambert says, his club's membership has increased exponentially since the marathon was announced last year.


Lambert talks about the pleasures of running and what the Rock 'n Roll marathon means to the city:

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