GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - In December, runners from all over the country will get to race along the beautiful beachfront backdrop of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Harrison County has announced its first-ever marathon, which will be held along Highway 90 on Dec. 9-11, 2016.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon is being billed as a coastal running fest filled with all sorts of activities for runners, spectators and tourists.
Adriana Borden gets quite a workout running along the beach.
"It's one thing that helps me lose weight the fastest is running," said Borden. "And the beach is a great place to run."
"You've got 26 miles of unblocked views," said Renee Arang, executive director of Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast. "Who wouldn't want to run that?"
Coast tourism leaders and city officials gathered at Jones Park Tuesday to announce the inaugural marathon. The event has been a dream for a group of coast natives and avid runners who organized a similar marathon in Baton Rouge in 2010.
"It feels like coming home to be able to do this here," said the marathon's event director Pat Fellows. "So it's really exciting for us."
The festivities will begin that Friday with an expo. Then, on Saturday, there will be a 5K and Kids Race. A half-marathon will be held Sunday along Highway 90 from Gulfport to Biloxi, with a full race starting in Pass Christian and ending in Biloxi.
"It's 26 or 13 miles of coastline, and beautiful coastline, and I don't think there's maybe one other, couple of other races that are similar to this in the country," said race director Jonathan Dziuba. "So this is very unique."
Organizers hope to draw more than 3,000 runners, along with tourists from across the United States and more than 12-countries. They also plan to host parties for families and spectators along the race routes.
"I can tell you from experience they put on a first-class event," said Jeff Bertucci, a Gulfport runner who participated in the Louisiana marathon. "Not just a racing event, but an entertainment event."
That means South Mississippi's tourism industry may finish as the winner.
“You could certainly see millions of dollars coming into the economy on that one weekend a year,” said Dziuba.
"It's going to be a good, one coast community event," said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes. "So we're very excited about it."
"I think that's awesome; I think we need more attractions down here," said Borden. "It's beautiful. I think it would be great."
Organizers say last year's marathon in Louisiana drew nearly 9,000 runners and pumped more than $5-million into the economy.
Registration for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon will begin this Thursday.
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