WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- 2,400 runners took off before sunrise for the Wrightsville Beach Marathon and Half-marathon Sunday morning. The race started in Wrightsville Beach, made it's way around the Landfall community and ended in Mayfair. "I think anyone can do it who puts their mind to it," says runner Sam Blair. "It's all about discipline."
Race Community Relations Director Steve Brechbiel says people from across the world came to the Cape Fear for the run. He says he thinks it draws so many people because of the location. "Absolutely a destination event," say Brechbiel. "I mean to come here and run, it's a great course and who wouldn't wanna visit Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington?"
He says the race is beneficial for locals, too. "The Visitor's Bureau told us that it looks like an economic impact of over one million dollars," says Brechbiel. "We're really proud of that and proud of what it does for the community."
Laura Ulrich of Hampton Inn and Suites says she has seen more business this weekend because of the race. She says this sets the bar for the upcoming tourist season. "This weekend there's been a definite increase in business," says Ulrich. "Last night, we were sold out for the first time this year so the race really marks the beginning of the busy season and just the height of the tourism season starting up."
And it wasn't just visitors taking advantage of the local accommodations. Runner Tricia Melvin, her running mate Christy Branco and their families live in Wilmington, but stayed at the Hampton Inn Saturday night. They say it was necessary. "The race started at 6:30 and we're not morning people," says Melvin. "We decided to stay at the hotel and give ourselves an extra 45 minutes of sleep," says Branco. "It was worth it."
Most runners say they enjoyed the course, the support from the community, and hope to participate again next year.