According to hvg.hu, Budapest profits from running tourism by billions of forints, which is also beneficial for those, who swear at runners for the roadblocks while sitting in the car.
Budapest will soon be flooded by runners: after the smaller season-starter competitions, the running season starts in Budapest with Vivicittá at the weekend. Running’s popularity has been continuously growing since it has become the hobby of the intellectual middle-class in the beginning of the decade. This also leads to more and more participants at the races, which is advantageous for the whole city.
The biggest Hungarian running races are the Telekom Vivicittá, the Wizz Air Budapest Half Marathon and the Spar Budapest Marathon. 98% of runner tourists come for one of these competitions. Comparing the numbers of entrants with other European capitals, Budapest is in the middle-field, but is among the best (most affordable) regarding prices.
There were 6371 competitors at Spar Budapest Marathon last year, out of them 2519 were foreigners, but this number is around 10 thousand if we add their escorts. Almost 7400 people entered this year’s Vivicittá, out of whom 1400 come from abroad. But if we look at the whole weekend and smaller races, this number doubles.
According to KPMG’s analysis from 2015, the Wizz Air Half Marathon and Spar Budapest Marathon generated a spending of 2.97 billion forints (~EUR 9.6m) in the Hungarian economy. A foreign runner tourist generally spends 178 thousand forints (~EUR 576) during the weekend of the race, this cost is 20 thousand forints (~EUR 60) in the case of people coming from inland. 91% of foreigners came for the competition, they spent 3.4 days in Hungary on average, most of them stayed in 3 or 4 star hotels.
“The organising of a Budapest Marathon costs more than 100 million forints (~EUR 324 thousand), but it is very much profitable” said Árpád Kocsis, the managing director of Budapest Sport Office (BSI), the organiser of the biggest Hungarian races. The costs include the reservation of the location, use of the road, police, ambulance, reorganisation of public transport schedules, sound engineers etc.
He believes that the number of foreign participants mostly depends on the city’s touristic popularity, but a good marketing plan is also needed. For instance, one of BSI’s aims is to attract more and more East European runners, just like Vienna attracted Hungarian runners for a long time. The result can already be seen: the number of foreigners coming from neighbouring countries has grown to 33% from 20% in the beginning of the decade. This year’s newest tendency is that the number of Ukrainians is visibly growing.
In western countries it is logical that if someone seeks something else than marathon running, they switch to cycling or triathlon. Hungary doesn’t have too many amateur cycling competitions, but the number of triathletes has also increased, even though only on a smaller scale.
The Budapest Ironman 70.3 (won’t be held this year) formed a separate category as almost 80% of competitors were foreigners and the competition itself could afford more, because the international company owning the Ironman brand supported the whole thing.
Regarding the expenses of a triathlon race, the biggest unit is the providing of the route, especially on the cycling track. In most places policemen and home guards help in a way that they don’t stop street-traffic. The Budapest race was an exception, just like the Balatonkenese middle-distance race will be this summer. The great question of the upcoming years is whether or not the filtration of hobby runners towards triathlon will go on and whether or not it can turn into a bigger international business.