Marathon brings thousands of visitors, big business to Chicago

Marathon brings thousands of visitors, big business to Chicago

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Sunday's Chicago Marathon is one of the world's six big long-distance races this year. It's also big business, attracting so many visitors that many hotels, motels and restaurants are completely booked this weekend.

Thousands of runners arrived Friday to scope out the course and to pick up their race packet. Those who've registered come from all 50 states, with more than 10,000 coming from overseas. Emotions are rising.

As Kara Goodbrand and tens of thousands of other runners passed through McCormick Place collecting their Chicago Marathon race packets today, it was a golden opportunity for those marketing shoes, fitness-oriented gear and gadgets and stamina snacks and drinks of every sort.

"Excited, nervous, a little bit like ‘I don't know what to expect!' but I'm looking forward to it, though," Goodbrand says of her first upcoming marathon race."

A University of Illinois study paid for by race sponsor Bank of America found that last year's 2012 Marathon generated $98 million in direct spending, with another $145 million indirect: $243 million total.

With the city's hospitality industry riding a record-breaking tide of visitors this year, they're hoping this weekend's marathon will bring in even bigger bucks. Officials are spending more on security in the wake of terrorism at the Boston Marathon that killed three and injured 260.

"Knowing there's that much security around the finish area, and throughout even the checkpoints coming in, the fact that you have to clear your plastic bag with someone, makes me feel a lot more comfortable," one woman from Canada said.

More than a million and a half people may turn out to watch, but they won't be allowed near the finish line without credentials.

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