WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – More than 2,000 athletes, 90 percent from outside the area, are expected to descend on Wilmington for Saturday's Beach to Battleship Triathlon.
They'll bring friends, family and money.
Athletes and guests stay in the Wilmington area an average of three nights, according to a press release from the convention and visitors bureau.
The triathlon leads to 400 room-night bookings at the Wilmington Hilton Riverside, said Molly Johnson, director of group sales.
The hotel makes special accommodations, including opening its coffee stand early at 4 a.m. for athletes seeking caffeine and fruit before the race.
Jim Mincher, owner of Two Wheeler Dealer, said the bike store usually sees a 10 percent spike in sales for about a week due to the triathlon.
"It is substantial, but it's not just a total windfall," he said.
Some out-of-town racers even ship their bikes to the store, where they are assembled.
"It's actually cheaper than carrying it on the airlines because, you know, the airline is going to charge you $150 each direction and then you've still got to put it together," Mincher said. "They can just ship it to us and it's all taken care of."
For the second year, the finish line for the run will be downtown instead of across the river at the battleship. Race Director Jeremey Davis said the decision is a boon for downtown businesses.
"Now the spectators, the friends and family have something to do other than just sit around and wait," he said. "They can actually shop, they can eat, they can drink a beer, they can do whatever they like."
In addition to boosting businesses, the race will generate revenue for the city. The race will pay a one dollar user fee for each participant for the first time, according to Malissa Talbert, a city spokeswoman. The revenue will be earmarked for greenways and sidewalks.
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