Ogden savors $3 million Xterra economic impact

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:38 PM

Jon Oglesby, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell has spent time in office letting people know what his city has to offer.

And while he has helped build a brand that grows by the day, it didn’t hurt him that Ogden has access to some of the nation’s best outdoor activities.

Those natural resources and the community marketing approach brought Xterra to Utah in 2004, and the abundant resources in the area have helped Ogden become the annual destination for the organization’s national championships.

“If you’re into outdoor lifestyles, you have more accessibility in Ogden than I think you do just about anywhere,” Caldwell said. “From downtown, you’re 20 minutes away from three world-class ski resorts, you have two rivers that converge downtown, hundreds of miles of trails — all those types of things that come together.”

For those who are unaware, Xterra is a triathlon-style event that features open-water swimming, mountain biking and a 10K run. This year’s national championship, set for Saturday in the area of Pineview Reservoir and Snowbasin ski resort, features endurance sport professionals, such as defending national champion Josiah Middaugh and Ogden’s Nick Fisher. The pros in this year’s event will compete for more than $80,000 in prize money, and the entire race will be featured in a syndicated, one-hour television production.

Despite the allure of competing for prize money, Caldwell said, the athletes are approachable and blue-collar in their attitude toward spectators.

“These athletes are so unassuming. They don’t make a ton of money being a professional triathlete — they do it because of passion and love,” he said. “They’re more than happy to say hello and share training tips and ideas. They make it a point to be around and available.”

Besides bringing scores of athletes to the area, Xterra has also brought a sizable financial boost to the region, with Caldwell saying the economic impact has been estimated to be around $3 million.

It has also galvanized several businesses that specialize in outdoor recreation materials, specifically for those who are looking for high-quality equipment.

Jake Pantone, a marketing manager for local bike manufacturer ENVE Composites, said the Xterra races have brought a platform for companies like his to showcase their work in their own backyards.

“I think it’s brought a few things. Number one, it’s brought awareness to alternative endurance sports,” Pantone said. “It’s great synergy because we’re an Ogden-based manufacturing company sponsoring national champions, and we have that national championship in Ogden.”

Also, the event has brought a focus on health and wellness in the region and has helped build bridges toward getting the entire community active.

Ogden resident Nick Fisher, who is ranked seventh in the nation coming into the national competition, said he thinks the event has increased the community’s knowledge of Ogden’s outdoor opportunities.

“With the movement that’s going on in Ogden right now, with all the skiing and biking and outdoor companies coming to Ogden, it fuels that fire and brings more awareness to those in Ogden about the outdoor lifestyle,” Fisher said. “It’s pretty awesome to have it in Ogden — there couldn’t be a better venue.”

Above all else, Caldwell noted the event provides marketing and exposure for the region that would be hard to quantify with numbers alone.

“The marketing and advertising for our community, we could never go out and produce on our own,” Caldwell said. “The image they present and what they put in the marketplace, it really showcases this active, vibrant lifestyle in our community that we’ve been working hard to build.”

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