Route 66 Marathon Boosts Business Around Tulsa

Sunday, November 24th 2013, 9:30 pm
By: News On 6

Despite temperatures in the low 20s, runners laced up their running shoes Sunday morning for the Route 66 Marathon.

Right outside the Griffin Communications Media Center, more than 10,000 runners crossed the finish line this weekend.

We spoke with some restaurants along the routes through town, and some say business more than doubled this weekend.

Whether it was the fun run, 5K, furry get-ups, or the full-fledged marathon, all 50 states were represented on the streets of Tulsa this weekend.

"It's just nice to have it behind me," Wisconsin's Collin Gehle said.

We caught up with Gehle as he crossed the finish line.

He and his wife used to call Tulsa home, but they now join some 4,000 runners who are here from out of state.

"We got here Friday," Gehle said. "We spent all night seeing the old sites of where we used to live."

11/24/13 Related Story: Finish-Line Proposal Greets Tulsa Route 66 Runner

More than 10,000 runners signed up for today's marathon, but organizers say it's difficult to pin down just how many spectators there were because the routes run throughout the city. What they do know it that the economic impact is more than $5 million, with many runners coming back to cafes like this one on Cherry Street.

"On a cold day like today, you wouldn't expect it to be this busy, but we've been running since about 8:30," Full Moon Café Manager Ashley Gilbert said.

Gilbert says this weekend, 90 percent of her business has been marathon runners.

But the extra business also means a few challenges.

"It's really frustrating for the customers trying to find parking," Gilbert said. "No one seems to be too upset when they get here."

It's not just restaurants running with a full head of steam this weekend. Hotels are benefiting from runners and the support groups that travel with them.

"I think over the 36 hours, we'll probably spend $600," David McCune said.

McCune and his wife traveled form Enid to watch their son run the half marathon.

"We came prepared, we've got twice too much clothes, but that's all right," he said.

He says the 24-degree start to the marathon had encouraged his family to step inside some of businesses near the Guthrie Green - piquing his interest for future visits.

"A lot to do, a lot we didn't get to do that we'd like to come back and explore," McCune said.

It took Tulsa's James Keilbarth 2:35:24 to take first place in the 26.2-mile run.

The womens' leader was Katie Kramer of Oklahoma City with a time of 3:02:11.

Click here for full results