October 4th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 40
Sinister 7 shows total economic impact
Brian Gallant, founder and director, says race has economic impact of $3,128,678
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina Photo
Council chambers were packed with Sinister 7 advocates showing their support for the event when race director Brian Gallant presented the ltramarathon's economic impact to Council on September 12. After the presentation, Mayor Blair Painter said to Gallant, "I want to thank you for bringing such a fantastic, professional event to our community. We can see the heightened activity all around from one end to the other and it's quite obvious that the people that are here are enjoying our community and definitely enjoying the event."
Pass Herald Reporter
Crowsnest Pass has several outstanding yearly events that leave a profound social and economic stamp on the community: the KRA Rodeo, UROC’s Enduro race, the Crowsnest Heritage Festival.

The Sinister 7 Ultramarathon, which just ran its 10th year this past July, is one of these events. The race takes runners through challenging terrain in the Rockies either as a solo runner or relay runner in a group.

Brian Gallant, Sinister’s founder and director, collaborated with the municipality’s Manager of Community Services Joey O’Brien to determine the economic impact of the yearly event. The event update and economic impact assessment were presented to Council at a Governance & Priorities meeting in September.

Sinister 7 brings in an average group size of 3 people staying for an average of 3.25 days. With 1,600 runners participating in the race itself, that brings the total number of visitors to Crowsnest Pass to 4,800 people coming to the event.

According to the assessment, the direct economic impact of Sinister 7 is $1,955,424, which works out to being just over $400 per person. This includes money that is brought into the community for and around the event, everything from event fees to gas, accommodation and food.
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Using the internationally recognized Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model (STEAM), Gallant and O’Brien looked at the aggregate effects of people returning to the Pass outside of the event, financial gains from spinoff effects like marketing, promotions, community recognition, repeat visitors, people purchasing real estate. STEAM, an online assessment tool by the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, was used in many high-profile events and sports organizations, notably FIFA, the Banff Marathon and Hockey Canada. STEAM looks at visitor spending profiles on everything from accommodation costs to jobs supported by the event, and uses derived economic impact multipliers to obtain the total economic impact.

For the Sinsiter 7 Ultramarathon, the total economic impact using STEAM was calculated at $3,128,678.

Crowsnest Pass Holiday Homes, Country Encounters, The Kanata Inn and a variety of other businesses and not-for-profits submitted letters of support vouching for the significant financial impact that the Sinister 7 weekend has on their operation.

“Our business has experienced numerous benefits from having this event based out of Crowsnest Pass, among them our busiest days on record in 14 years of business, increased awareness of our business and high probability of repeat business,” wrote Jessica Atkinson, owner of Stone's Throw Café.

On top of capital spent in the community by competitors, Sinister Sports, the parent company of the ultramarathon, does its own share of spending in the community. Putting the event together involves a lot of community engagement, investment and collaboration.
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The vast majority of the entry fees get reinvested in supplies, staffing and specialized institutions like medical and search & rescue aids that support the event in different ways.

“We work with minimally 16 different local businesses and contractors to put the event together. That doesn’t include any of the more general day-to-day stuff like buying supplies,” says Gallant.

Sinister Sports also rent facilities from the municipality for which they pay the full rate that’s prescribed in their agreement.

This was the first year that Sinister organizers included economic data in their yearly survey of their competitors to get an idea of what it means to the community. Prior surveys only concentrated on competitor satisfaction of the race. According to Gallant, future surveys will always incorporate the economic data as well. The survey, created by Gallant and his assistant Kelsey Cox, was emailed out to participants and received approximately 400 responses back.

“Not only is Sinister 7 good for business just that weekend, but it has an outstanding long term impact as well,” said Gallant.

The economic impact of Sinister 7 would be increased if people were to stay longer, spending more time and money in the community.

“It’s really great to hear, but there’s lots of room to improve that,” says Gallant. “We just have to give them reasons to come back. Getting them to commit is always the next step. Events like UROC, Enduro, the Rodeo, the Crowsnest Heritage Festival, Sinister 7, we all bring people here to participate in very specific and intense activities that they’re passionate about.
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When they get here, it turns out that they’re bringing in millions of dollars into the community and it’s at a very low cost to the municipality when you look at the overhead that goes into putting on these events.”

The ultramarathon itself cannot grow anymore. Registrations for the event are already capped, and the relay portion of the race sells out in just 90 seconds.

Gallant and O’Brien’s idea to entice people to stay – and spend – more was through a festival.

“We’ve come up with an idea for a festival that celebrates life in the mountains. Hopefully it’s going to help people extend their stays in the community and give it more of a festival feel,” says Gallant, adding that he doesn’t envision the festival to be specific to Sinister 7, but rather run and organized by peripheral community groups.

“I don’t want to manage a festival, but I do want to work with community leaders and different organizations to help make that happen,” he says.

The outdoor and mountain festival idea is a new concept that is far from becoming a reality, but according to O’Brien, it’s the missing link to luring visitors to spend more time and capital in the community.

“There needs to be music, there needs to be stuff to do, there needs to be food, and there needs to be excitement,” says O’Brien. “We need the participation of merchants.”
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The big picture

Looking at the broader picture of revenue brought into Crowsnest Pass, O’Brien says that the municipality needs more economic impacts to render it , especially considering that there are underutilized facilities that are oftentimes more empty than full.

“If you’re a one horse town and your horse dies, you’re done,” he says. “This community has seen that a number of times where we’ve had major economic models collapse. There is a tremendous opportunity for us to create off-season utilization of our underutilized assets: the MDM, the rink, the ski hill, Elk’s Hall... All these facilities spend more time empty than they do busy.”

Not everything has to be a 4,000-person event, says O’Brien, but more noteworthy, moneymaking events – like Sinister 7 - are needed so that the municipality and businesses can capitalize on the additional revenue brought into the community.

Other notable stats…

- Highest bracket of competitors’ household income is between $100,000 and $150,000, at 27%
- 38% of competitors hold a Bachelor’s Degree
- Females competitors slightly surpass male competitors, at 54%
- 48% of competitors responded that they stayed at a hotel, bed & breakfast or holiday home. The rest of the responses were divided between informal, provincial and private campgrounds.
- Solo competitors: 91% from Canada, 4.5% from U.S.; a total of 11 nationalities participated.
- Relay competitors: 98% from Canada (92.1% from Alberta, 4.4% from Saskatchewan), 2% from U.S.
- 92% of survey respondents indicated that they heard about the event through word of mouth, greatly prevailing over traditional and online advertising avenues does by Sinister Sports
- 67% are returning racers
- Only 63% indicated that they would visit Crowsnest Pass outside of Sinister 7
October 4th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 40
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