As runners wind down their training ahead of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, Visit Champaign County is ramping up the preparations for a surge of visitor traffic.
The Visit Champaign County team is busy preparing welcome materials for hotel guests, from posters in the hotel lobby to custom t-shirts for hotel employees. Information on area discounts for the days surrounding the Marathon, as well as guides and maps will all be distributed in the coming days. All the preparation is to ensure runners have a positive experience during the County’s most impactful event.
“The marathon is a significant community event that allows us to show thousands of visitors why Champaign County is ‘Outside of Ordinary,’” states Jayne DeLuce, President & CEO of Visit Champaign County. “This is one of those times where we have the ability to showcase our Midwestern hospitality and demonstrate that this community is open and welcome to hosting large events.”
Large-scale events such as the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon produce significant economic impact in a short amount of time. Between a near countywide sellout on hotels, dollars spent at restaurants, gas stations, retail outlets and convenience stores, this weekend’s marathon is expected to make a $10 million economic impact on Champaign County.
However, these events take the backing of the community to be successful. “When our residents embrace events, it makes it that much easier to sell to other organizations,” explains DeLuce. “What happens to this community during the Marathon is tremendous. It really speaks to what we are capable of when welcoming visitors, and event planners take notice.”
That’s why Visit Champaign County is taking the lead on programs to make the visitor experience exceptional. During the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, that means offering the Wooden Nickel program where businesses from around the Champaign County area offer special discounts to runners who bring in a Wooden Nickel. It also means hosting the Meijer 27th Mile Celebrate Victory Bash held on Saturday, April 30 just outside Memorial Stadium on Kirby Ave. Runners and volunteers will have the perfect place to meet up with family and friends for some post-race fun with live music from 90s Daughter, plenty of local eats from Meijer as well as food trucks such as Cracked, Chester’s BBQ, Pandemonium Doughnuts, Cool Bliss Popped Bliss and Kona Ice, as well as a complimentary beer or beverage for each runner provided by Fat City Bar & Grill. The event will also have numerous activities for all ages filling the street just south of Memorial Stadium.
Visit Champaign County understands the importance of those small details noticed by visitors—preparing local businesses for event traffic, providing Marathon t-shirts to hotel partners, and ensuring Visitors Guides and maps are readily available throughout the community.
“We have a guest who stays with us every Marathon weekend,” states Jesse Hines, General Manager at the Homewood Suites by Hilton. “She runs marathons all over the country but she makes a point to make it to Champaign every year as she can tell the entire community rallies behind this race. From the staff t-shirts and the Wooden Nickels, to the extended breakfast hours and complimentary water, oranges and bananas we offer, she always talks about how accommodating Champaign is to the runners. This is truly a community-wide event and we love to make the runners feel right at home!”
Ultimately, it takes a village to make an event successful. Visit Champaign County is leading the charge to ensure the community rallies behind these events, whether it’s the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, the IHSA Football and Wrestling State Championships, or potential new events that generate impact.
In the end, the visitors enjoy the community, and the community sees the dollars flow back into their pockets, saving tax dollars and creating jobs.
More information about the Meijer 27th Mile Celebrate Victory Bash and the Wooden Nickel program can be found at www.visitchampaigncounty.org/27thmile.