Western States race makes registers ring

Endurance event banks $1.5 million for local economy
By: Luke Ramseth, Journal Correspondent
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$1.5 million is a lot of money. That’s the estimated dollar amount the Western States Endurance Run brings to the Placer County economy, according to the Western States board. “If they’re traveling here, they’re staying awhile,” said Cynci Calvin, Endurance Capital Committee, of the Western States runners. “That helps local restaurants and stores.” Businesses thriving this week include hotels, grocery stores like Raleys, Bel Air and Savemart, and the Auburn Running Store. Ken Parnow of the Auburn Running Store says business is always great this time of year. “As far as the recession, we’re not feeling the pinch,” he said. The store is selling out of all its nutrition products like GU, a popular carbohydrate energy source for endurance athletes, energy bars and accessories like water bottles. “We had to call all our vendors to replenish us,” Parnow said Friday. “The small stuff is selling.” Calvin said Western States provides an economic boost on more than just the race weekend. “(Western States) has other events, like training runs throughout the year. That draws people that want to run on the local trails.” That’s not to say all Auburn-area businesses are seeing an increase due to the race. Local restaurants like Monkey Cat haven’t seen any uptick. “It’s been mellow,” employee Jessica Pacaaco said. Local hotels might be the biggest benefactors of the race, considering Western States draws teams from all over the world. “This will be the biggest weekend for us, by far,” said Chuck Chavez, a manager at the Auburn Best Western. “There’s lots of people from the East Coast, some from South Africa and Eastern Europe. They’re all staying here. (The race) kicks off the summer season for us.” Parnow said the Western States doesn’t require much traditional advertising to get people to come to town. It’s more of a word of mouth, people telling friends and family about the race. “We talk about it with everyone that comes in,” he said. “The race is getting bigger and bigger every year. The applicants are growing.”