Thousands of athletes pour into Fresno to compete in CIF State Cross Country Meet

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- People have been pouring into Fresno to not only spend money while shopping but to also get ready for an event which pumps tourism dollars into the area.

2,100 athletes are dreaming of finishing first at Woodward Park on Saturday.

A picture-perfect showing might be needed to win the CIF State Cross Country Meet and thousands of visitors from around California will be in Fresno to cheer on runners in the field.

State Meet Director Dustin Marzolf says, "You can't get a hotel within 30 miles of this place because there's going to be 8-10,000 people here tomorrow."

Marzolf coaches at Clovis East.

The Fresno-Clovis area has about 10,000 hotel rooms. Hotels typically don't do a lot of business at this time of year but the Fresno Clovis Convention and Visitors Bureau noted this event gives the area a huge tourism boost.

Sales Director Andrew Smith explains, "We estimate this event to be about a $1.7 million impact into the local community. So it's great for our restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, gas stations in both Fresno and Clovis."

For over three decades, families of the state's top cross country runners have expected to spend holiday time in Fresno.

Marzolf says, "They love it. Some just think it's the greatest thing. Some people come and actually rent houses here on Thursday and spend their Thanksgiving here."

As crews were mapping out the 3.1-mile course, runners were busy getting better acquainted with the layout at Woodward Park. Valley runners have the advantage in that regard.

Buchanan High senior Corie Smith says, "I would say definitely. Me and my teammates were literally just talking about that while we were running the course again today. We practice on this course at least once a week."

Smith won the state meet as a sophomore but was sick last year and missed the race.

Expect her to be one of the runners who is able to break out of the pack on Saturday.
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