Costa Rica tourism grows exponentially, with close to $3,000 MM earned and 3 million tourists in 2015, is no secret that it’s the country’s main source of revenue. A huge part comes from ecotourism but there are other niches that are becoming more and more popular, such as running.
Currently, only three marathons compose the racing schedule in Costa Rica, distributed almost evenly through the calendar. Now on May 4th, a fourth race will take place in its capital city of San Jose, the name: San Jose’s Marathon. It’ll be the second marathon of 2017 in Central America after the Bahamas Marathon.
“It is very important to us that there are these kinds of races for our athletes. Instead of running in other countries, they can run here, we have good races too”, said Geen Clark, president of the Costarrican Athletics Federation.
San Jose’s Marathon has the IAAF certification and will be the same course used for the 2013 Central American Games: A 6.5-mile circuit that starts and finishes at the Catedral Metropolitana, visiting iconic landmarks of Costa Rica’s capital along the way.
“I think the marathon is great, it brings another alternative to local athletes. By doing the race at San Jose it prevents people from making big investments to assist the competition” said Gabriela Traña, an elite runner which was the first person to be signed in the competition.
People can now register for the race, the marathon, there are various costs depending on the race preference. For the marathon, the registration fee is $55. For the half marathon is $36 and the 6.5-mile race is $27. The event organizers are expecting 5,000 participants and prizes add up to $40.000 in total.
Costa Rica already has three major races
Before its announcement, the Central American nation had three marathons on the year. On July 2016, Costa Rica added a third race to the calendar with the Correcaminos Marathon. On September there’s the Tamarindo Beach Marathon and the Costa Rican calendar closes with its international marathon on December.
The Correcaminos Marathon started as an initiative made by the Asociacion Deportiva Correcaminos in 2010, the people’s response to the race exceeded all expectations. As a race with benefical purposes, the funds gathered are given to community projects and to help promote sports in the country.
The Tamarindo Beach Marathon offers a pleasant climate, running between nature, beach and pasture give an enthusiastic experience, that with the support of the locals will make runners from all over the globe feel just like home.
Currently, the race offers various packages to attract international runners so they can enjoy the marathon without worrying about hotels, transports or meals.
The International Marathon of Costa Rica is a non-profit association founded in 1993, for more than 16 years it has worked to organize world class events.
After a large investment to convert the race into an IAAF certificated venue, it has maintained its status and hierarchy as a top class marathon in Central America.
Running and tourism, two ways, one destination
The Cantonal Committee of Sports and Recreation in San Jose and its municipality gathered to organize the San Jose Marathon. in order to attract tourism, the goal is to give it the event national and international importance.
“It’s all a part of a study, we look that there are good events in the capital. Nevertheless, we feel that planning a strategically positioned race so that it satisfies tourism in the city”, said Heiner Ugalde, president of the committee.
Based upon the most important marathons in the IAAF calendar: Berlin, Paris, London and Boston are the biggest races worldwide. Costa Rica’s plan is to make their big four as well so that the nation keeps growing year after year on tourism.
Ugalde also says that San Jose doesn’t have any strong international events each year. They’re looking forward that the San Jose Marathon is what they want, he adds.
In addition, Johnny Araya, mayor of San Jose said that the race is a part of the city they want to make, apart from being a way to promote athletics. “We know the stories of many successful cities that have made the marathon as an emblem, we will use this to help us position San Jose among the best in the world” he commented.
San Jose’s Marathon paves the way to running in CR
The efforts to create a running culture in Costa Rica go back to the 90’s. The country’s current economic and social moment are at their very best to promote athletics and other tourism alternatives.
The San Jose Marathon has a long way to go if it wants to reach the status of its peer races in Costa Rica. At the moment both government and private efforts support these kinds of initiatives.
The tourism on the nation is as high as it’s ever been, the ingredients to be successful are there and the “Ticos” can eventually have more marathoners to compete in world events.