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Louisiana Marathon organizers launch inaugural Mississippi event

Organizers of the Louisiana Marathon, which celebrates its fifth anniversary in January, are in Mississippi today preparing for the inaugural Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon.

The event will be held over two days this weekend. It will include a 5K and 1.2-mile kids run on Saturday, followed on Sunday by a 13.1-mile half marathon from Gulfport to Biloxi and a 26.2-mile full marathon from Pass Christian to Biloxi.

The launch of the Mississippi event is a testament to the success of the Louisiana Marathon, which has grown since its founding in 2012 from some 2,800 runners to an expected 9,000 in 2017. Organizers say they have also been able to cross promote the two races, creating a synergy between them that will help both to grow.

“Six years ago the production team founded the Louisiana Marathon, which has peaked with nearly 9,000 runners, over $500,000 in charity fundraising and over $17,000,0000 in economic impact by travel runners to Baton Rouge,” says Danny Bourgeois, marketing director for the events. “We’re hoping to have a similar trajectory in Mississippi, using Louisiana’s success as a frame for what’s possible.”

In its five-year history, the Louisiana Marathon has attracted runners from all 50 states. Already, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon has lured runners from 42 states. Bourgeois says many Baton Rouge runners will be heading to the coast this weekend to participate.

While event organizers are anxious to see the Mississippi event grow, they’re not planning to franchise their marathon concept around the country. Pat Fellows, who co-founded the events with Bourgeois and Craig Sweeney, says they chose to expand to the Mississippi Gulf Coast because it is his hometown and seemed like a natural outgrowth of the Louisiana event.

“But we’re not trying to become like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon,” Fellows says of the franchise race that hosts events across the country, including in New Orleans. “We want to concentrate on doing these races and doing them well.”

Read a recent Business Report feature on the growth of the Louisiana Marathon and other sporting events in Baton Rouge.

—Stephanie Riegel

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