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OC Marathon takes off this weekend

Some 15,000 runners and 25,000 spectators are expected to attend.

BY BRANDON RUSSELLPublished: April 28, 2011 10:34 AM

Thousands of fitness enthusiasts will gather this weekend for the 2011 OC Marathon, a countywide event that promotes health education, community growth and Orange County’s famous coastline.

The seventh annual event is expected to attract more than 25,000 spectators and 15,000 runners in the marathon, half-marathon, Wahoo’s 5K and 1-mile Kids Run the OC.

The event will take participants on an all-new route in observance of concerns made by the U.S. Department of Fish and Game, hitting four cities along the way. The route begins in front of the Newport Beach Marriott on Newport Center Drive and goes through the bluffs overlooking the Back Bay.

In addition, a two-day Health, Fitness & Nutrition Expo at the OC Fair and Event Center preceding the main festivities is expected to draw more than 30,000 people.

Because of its diverse geography and USATF certification, the Orange County Marathon is one of California’s biggest races. Interest was up 50 percent in December from the previous year, with the most significant growth in the Kids Run the OC program, which takes place on Saturday. More than 3,000 kids from some 50 schools are expected to participate.

The economic impact the race has on the region is quite significant as well. According to an independent study conducted by Forward Analytics, the 2010 event generated almost $21 million in revenue for Orange County.

Thirteen companies are sponsoring the event, including South Coast Plaza, Wahoo’s, Hilton Orange County and OC Parks.

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