GOLCONDA, IL (KFVS) - Runners from across the country have brought their sneakers and their tourism dollars to southern Illinois for the annual River to River Relay.
The race started early Saturday morning at McGee Hill in LaRrue Pine Hills - which overlooks the Mississippi River. The finish line is in downtown Golconda, located on the Ohio River.
Each eight-person team will complete an 80-mile course weaving through southern Illinois. Team members pass the baton every 2.5 to 4 miles of the route.
Event organizers say the event draws runners from all over the United States to enjoy southern Illinois' scenery.
"We have teams this year coming from 15 different states from as far away as Arizona, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and we'll have runners probably from all 50 states comprising those teams," said race director Brad Dillard.
With all of those out-of-town visitors, the race also offers a huge economic boost. Organizers say the one-day event brings in big money to southern Illinois' economy.
Race organizers say between the runners and fans, the river to river relay fills more hotel rooms than any other single event in southern Illinois other than SIU graduation ceremonies.
"We did an economic impact study a few years ago, and this brings in about $500,000 annually to the southern Illinois economy," Dillard said.
The River to River race wraps up with a festival Saturday afternoon/evening in Golconda. Everyone is welcome to join the fun.