MARQUETTE - Participants of this weekend's Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic packed Lakeview Arena for registration Friday night, with the largely midwestern racers setting record numbers.
A couple of hours before registration started Friday, entries were at 2,229 for this year, compared to last year's 1,924.
"We're already at 305 racers above our record," said race coordinator Nicole Dewald.
Lakeview Arena in Marquette was abuzz Friday evening with activity related to the Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic. After checking in, participants sign in with their bib number. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Most of the bikers come to Marquette from Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Lower Peninsula.
"An average out-of-state racer drives about six hours to get here," Dewald said. "This is definitely a Midwest race."
Dewald said the event is a family race, with numerous levels to compete in.
"It caters to pretty much all age groups," Dewald said. "They're here for the weekend."
The result is a boon to area businesses including hotels, motels, restaurants and shops.
Denise Gurnack, marketing manager for the Marquette Country Convention and Visitors Bureau in Marquette, said most of the campgrounds, including Tourist Park, and hotel and motel properties were "pretty booked" for the weekend. Gurnack said a rule of thumb is that each person will spend about $150 over the weekend for rooms, with that figure a bit lower for bicycle racers, who tend to camp more.
The economic impact of each seasonal event contributes, like those before and after it, to keeping the local tourism industry healthy throughout the year.
"The Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic has become one of the most important events and festivities that attracts tourism to our area, which remains to be a critical component to our community's economic vitality," said Tony Stagliano, communications and technology specialist at the Lake Superior Community Partnership in Marquette. "Vibrant community events such as the Ore to Shore also demonstrate our rich quality of life here in Marquette County, which goes a long way when attracting new employers and a talented workforce to our region."
Dewald said the driving force behind the success of the Ore to Shore race is the community support and activism, which includes roughly 500 volunteers.
The race, now in its 13th year, is Michigan's largest mass start point-to-point race.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is email@example.com.