Excitement and registration numbers are rising as the inaugural Suffolk County Marathon and Half Marathon to Support Our Veterans hits its stretch run of planning.
More than 2,000 people have already signed up and the county is predicting 5,000 people will hit the course, 1,000 more than initially expected when the race was announced in October.
“We’re very excited. There’s such a great buzz about the race,” County Executive Steve Bellone said. “This is going to be something that grows every year because of the excitement generated by the event.”
With such a large number of participants and the potential for an even larger crowd of spectators, Bellone believes the original economic impact goal, set at $7.9 million, will be realized and then some.
“We won’t be able to analyze that until after the race, but we think that’s a conservative number given the number of people who will be coming from around the country, the larger tri-state region and the world,” he said.
Greater Long Island Running Club inked a deal to run the event in January, and North Shore-LIJ signed on as a presenting sponsor in May. Other sponsorship opportunities are available, including the $100,000 Medal of Honor Title Sponsorship.
“We’d love to have sponsors who come back year after year and say they were there from the beginning,” Bellone said.
Additionally, Bellone and the County are working with the downtowns and local chambers of commerces to maximize the race’s economic impact.
“We want to get schools participating, we want local bands,” he said.
All proceeds will go towards helping local veterans, something that has been important to Bellone from the get-go. But since not everyone, particularly veterans currently deployed, may be able to take part on race day, the county created a virtual run option. People who sign up and run a marathon or half marathon anywhere at any time can receive a finisher’s medal and T-Shirt. Suffolk County is also partnering with five other local races that benefit veterans to form the 2015 Veterans Running Series. Anyone one who runs or volunteers in at least four of the races will receive a special participation medal.
“We’re marketing these together in a way that will raise the numbers of people participating in each event and that effect will raise more money for veterans,” Bellone said.
With such good weather and an even greater cause, there’s no better time to dust off your running shoes.