Entering its milestone 35th year, the annual JetBlue Long Beach Marathon and Half Marathon event, from October 11 to October 13, will feature roughly 15,000 runners from 45 states and six countries, according to Dan Cruz, Motiv Sports events spokesman.
Motiv Sports, a global sports and entertainment company, has organized and operated the marathon event since 2017, Cruz said. The event’s focus this year is to highlight the marathon’s “Supreme 15 Legacy Runners,” a group of individuals who have participated in all previous 34 iterations of the event. This month will mark the 15 athletes’ 35th time competing in the marathon, said Alex Bennett, Motiv Sports vice president of operations.
“This year’s race is really celebrating the runners of Southern California,” Bennett said. “We’re definitely streamlining operations of the event and trying to improve the wayfinding signage, the mile markers and all that sort of thing to make it a better experience.”
The Long Beach Marathon spans 26.2 miles. The course remains unchanged from last year’s event, Bennett said. Taking place the morning of October 13, the marathon’s path leads toward the Queen Mary, through Shoreline Village, around Belmont Shore toward Marine Stadium and loops around California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). The run is estimated to last about seven-and-a-half hours, according to the marathon website. The half marathon, at 13.1 miles, serves as an abbreviated version of the full marathon race. Moreover, event organizers will host the 20-mile bike tour that same morning.
Touted as the only 5K of its kind, the JetBlue Marathon event’s 5K Run/Walk is Saturday, October 12. The route goes along the Queensway Bridge and runs through the Aquarium of the Pacific, where participants will be greeted by pacific animals located at the various exhibits. The festivities aren’t reserved for just adults, as children will be able to go the distance with the marathon’s Aquarium of the Pacific Kids Fun Run, a free one-mile recreational race that includes admission to the aquarium and a marine animal medal as a reward for participating.
The event will also host a free fitness and health expo at the Long Beach Convention Center on October 11 to educate community members about best nutrition practices. Cruz added that event organizers will periodically upload route maps to Waze, a GPS navigation software, to provide residents up-to-date information about any road closures during event weekend. “That is one of our key messages – that this is more than just a marathon,” Cruz said. “It’s not just a one-day event. This is really one of the biggest weekends of the year in Long Beach.”
JetBlue Airways is serving as title sponsor of the event for its fifth year. Other supporters include the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach and more.
Utilizing analytics software IMPLAN to determine accurate data, Motiv Sports commissioned an economic impact report (EIR) for last year’s marathon event. According to the EIR, the 2018 JetBlue Marathon and Half Marathon event drew 11,322 visitors to the Long Beach region – which includes 7,181 athletes and 4,102 spectators.
Nearly 45% of all visitors stayed in the Long Beach area for at least one night, according to the EIR. Registration data also indicated that 56% of all runners that participated in the marathon were outside of Los Angeles County. The EIR shows that each athlete, on average, traveled in a party of 3.38 people. “We’re filling up hotel rooms, we’re bringing people into town and we’re proud [of those numbers],” Cruz said.
Accounting for other daily expenditures, such as food and transportation, the marathon’s estimated economic impact for Los Angeles County was $4,056,520, per the EIR. Cruz added that Motiv Sports’ operational costs are not factored into the report. He said the private organization cannot disclose its financial numbers in terms of the event’s operations, marketing, staffing and other costs.
Emphasizing the significance of the annual event’s 35th year in Long Beach, Cruz said the marathon is a global event that promotes tourism and economic prosperity for the region. “Long Beach is a city that has undergone a tremendous transformation in the past . . . 20 years,” Cruz said. “It sits in the sweet spot on the border between Orange County and Los Angeles County. It’s a very eclectic city. It’s got a lot great things to see and great things to do. . . . We . . . look at this event and always wonder how we can take it from a Southern California focus, a local race, and continue to amplify the race and grow it in future years.”
For more information about the JetBlue Long Beach Marathon and Half Marathon event, visit motivrunning.com/run-longbeach.