Albany Marathon and downtown Albany Mardi Gras a success for city

ALBANY — Event organizers say both the Albany Marathon and the Albany Mardi Gras street festival blessed with beautiful weather Saturday were overwhelming successes.

Rashelle Beasley, director of the Albany Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said this year’s marathon was one of the best in the event’s eight-year history, with more than 1,500 registered runners and more than 1,700 volunteers taking part in the event.

“It was definitely a huge success,” Beasley said. “We’ve gotten so much great feedback from the community and the runners. In fact, so much of the feedback from the runners was about how great the volunteers were. We’ve already had several people ask about when they can sign up for next year. That’s never happened before.”

Beasley said that in addition to the marathon route being favorable for runners looking to post times that will qualify them for other marathons, many attend the race in Albany because of the overall atmosphere in the community.

According to Beasley, runners said they were impressed with volunteers throughout the city, who made them feel welcome. One group of runners told Beasley that when they were crossing a busy intersection where traffic was stopped, many drivers got out of their vehicles and started cheering on the runners.

“That’s definitely a great community right there,” said Beasley.

In addition to the marathon and accompanying half-marathon being successful in the eyes of the runners and volunteers, the event also had impact on the community as a whole.

While Beasley said that all the numbers have not been finalized, she estimates that the overall economic impact was well over half a million dollars.

“I’d say with just the marathon alone we had $660,000 in economic impact,” said Beasley. “We had over 500 people come from out of state, including from Hawaii, Alaska, Venezuela, Austria, the United Kingdom and Canada.”

The spring-like weather had a positive impact on the second major event of the weekend, as more than 25,000 people participated in the 13th Albany Mardi Gras street festival held along the 100 block of Pine Avenue later Saturday.

“The weather was really good,” said Tommy Gregors, one of the event’s coordinators. “We had rain and cold the past two years, which really hurt attendance. This year really went well. It wasn’t our largest event ever, but it certainly was better than last year. In our eyes, it was very successful.”

Gregors said that due to low attendance the past two years organizers worked hard to reduce expenses this year in an effort to recoup some of those losses as well as generate enough funding to hold the event next year. While the numbers haven’t yet been finalized, Gregors is confident event planners were able to meet those goals.

“The numbers look good so far,” Gregors said. “We exceeded our expenses, which is good. We are very pleased.”