Naperville marathon fastest-growing? Economic boost?

Two pieces of information about the just-run Naperville marathon caught my eye:

The Naperville marathon has been one of the fastest-growing events in the country, more than doubling in size over the past few years. Still, it maintains a sense of smallness that is attractive to some runners like Jennifer Maierhoffer, of Seneca. Running a marathon was on her “bucket list,” she said, and she chose the Naperville event due to its size…

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico said the race is great event for Naperville as it provides not only an economic boost to the city, but also serves as a time in which the community can come together as volunteers to help run the event. This year more than 1,000 volunteers participated, he said.

Several quick thoughts:

  1. Naperville claims to have a small town feel despite its size (over 140,000 residents). So, what will they do to keep this event small?
  2. Keeping the event small could be at odds with the purported economic boost. If you had more runners, there would be more visitors. I suppose the spots in the races could become more lucrative, especially if this is tied to good causes (according to the end of the article, $1 million was raised for charity).
  3. Just how much of an economic boost could a relatively small event like this be? I’d be interested in seeing the figures.
  4. Naperville’s rapid population growth has slowed now that large parcels of land have disappeared but the marathon gives the suburb something fast-growing to hold on to.
  5. What is the saturation point for hosting marathons? Are there suburbs and other places that have stopped hosting marathons in recent years because they didn’t have enough interest or participants?

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