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OUR OPINION: Half marathon has wholly beneficial effects

Picture yourself walking on a sidewalk down a neighborhood street. You pass house after house that looks well kept-up but rather plain. Then, along comes a house that blossom with color, featuring flowers in the summer or maybe an entrancing set ...

Our Opinion

Picture yourself walking on a sidewalk down a neighborhood street. You pass house after house that looks well kept-up but rather plain.

Then, along comes a house that blossom with color, featuring flowers in the summer or maybe an entrancing set of lights at Christmas- time.

The sight makes you feel good, doesn't it? It tells you that somebody went to a lot of trouble to make things look nice for passers-by. That effort reflects well on the homeowner and the neighborhood, even as it gives onlookers that nice feeling as well.

Such will be the case throughout the Grand Cities today, as visitors enjoy the Wild Hog Half Marathon and the year's worth of planning that went into the event.

These kinds of events are exceptional showcases for the cities -- and that's no accident. It's because a small army of planners, business owners and volunteers took the time and spent the money that such an event needs.

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Good route planning? Check. Traffic detours? Check. Food and refreshments made available? Check. Publicity? Check. Entertainment for the runners and their guests? Check.

Permits, police presence and city cooperation for all of the above?

Check.

It's an immense job, but it sure pays off.

And here's the thing: Yes, it pays off for the event's sponsors, just like that well-decorated home reflects well on the homeowners.

But the whole neighborhood benefits from that homeowner's efforts, too. Other homeowners often get inspired to do some gardening on their own; and even those whose yards lack so much as a dandelion feel notably better about the place where they live.

So, too, will the "positive externalities" (as an economist would call them) of the Wild Hog Half Marathon benefit all of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, including residents who don't see a runner or read a word about the race.

Plain and simple, the event makes Grand Forks look good -- and that impression matters, not only for local runners but also for those from out of town.

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It's important to make a good impression. It matters to be a place where people travel to and find a nice welcome when they arrive.

For all of this, for all of the goodwill that the race generates and especially for all of the work and planning that went into it, the event's organizers and sponsors deserve the Grand Cities' thanks.

The effort is appreciated; the difference it makes is profound. And the awareness of how much goodwill and generosity goes into such an event inspires.

Opinion by Thomas Dennis
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