Destination Queenstown boss Graham Budd says the benefits of thousands of visitors at this weekend’s marathon event “far outweighs any perceived” infrastructure problems.
The fifth Air New Zealand Queenstown International Marathon’s expected to bring an estimated $8 million boost to the local economy, with all races apart from the kids race reaching full capacity weeks ahead of Saturday’s event.
Budd says the occasion, which organisers bill as the “largest marathon event in New Zealand”, has an “incredibly positive impact on Queenstown” and really helps kick off the summer season.
“I would go so far as to say that the buzz created by the event in town is the greatest benefit.
“Not only that, the event raises the profile of the Queenstown Trail and trails trust, and the many other businesses, from spa and wellness operators, as well as our bustling and vibrant dining and bar scene, also benefit.”
There’ll be more than 11,000 runners on the day, with about 22 per cent of participants coming from overseas and almost three quarters from outside Otago and Southland.
More than 1000 runners will come from Australia and almost 200 from the United States for the event.
Budd says there are about 13,650 beds available in the resort to meet visitor demand.
Race director Nicole Fairweather’s excited for runners to be able to experience “spectacular scenery, off-road running trails and the best place in the world” to celebrate after crossing the finish line.
The 2360 runners in this year’s marathon race will use the new Kawarau Bridge underpass, to avoid traffic delays on State Highway 6, and a new trail being built by the Queenstown Trails Trust alongside Shotover River.
Fairweather says the event will get close to $200,000 in total donations to the trust, which maintains part of the route “we literally rely on for our runners and walkers to enjoy on the day”.
A sizeable delivery of 8500 bananas is also expected to be dished out to ravenous runners at the event.
They’ll cover a combined total of almost 240,000 kilometres across the Air NZ Marathon, NZ Sotheby’s International Realty Half Marathon, Cigna 10km and Kids Run events.