13.1 miles is a whole lot of running but organizers of the Eye-Q California Classic Weekend are hoping the wildlife at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo make the journey a little easier. "So far we are the only California half-marathon that runs through an accredited zoo," said race organizer, Mike Herman. He added, "We get a lot of emails after the event saying they didn't know Fresno Chaffee Zoo is as beautiful as it is." But charting a course alongside the Flamingos and sleepy sea lions has a bigger purpose.
The City of Fresno first approached race organizers two and a half years ago about bringing the race to the heart of Fresno. City officials aimed to get more people to discover downtown through historic landmarks like the Old Fresno Water Tower and the Tower District. Race organizers estimate last year's economic impact of the two day race to the city at about $750,000. Fresno's Downtown Development Director, Craig Scharton said, "Mostly what we like is that it helps downtown businesses that are already here. People are buying lunch or stopping into Brick or the downtown Hofbrau or Joe's Steakhouse and helping support our local economy through our local businesses."