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Marathons and Triathlons: The New Endangered Species?

18 Oct, 2017

By: Michael Popke
Amid Increasing Regulation, Higher Costs and More Competition, Running Event Organizers Face New Challenges

Are marathons and triathlons around the country becoming an endangered species?

In July, City of Portland (Oregon) officials denied organizers of the Portland Marathon a permit for the event, now in its 46th year — citing a police staffing shortage along the proposed route. Three weeks before the Oct. 8 race, the city finally granted a permit to race officials, but with the following conditions:

1. The marathon, under new management this year, was required to prepay $47,800 to cover the cost of Portland police staffing, Portland Bureau of Transportation services and the special event permit fee.  

2. Marathon organizers agreed to follow a medical plan required by Portland Fire and Rescue that  called for increased security and a coordinated plan involving several agencies in case of an event like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

3. Event officials were required to select one of three city-approved routes; they opted for an out-and-back course, rather than a loop.

The Portland Marathon attracts runners from all 50 states and about 15 countries.

Organizers of the Ironman 70.3 in Racine, Wis., the Tri for Good Triathlon in Mooresville, North Carolina, and the Newport Beach (California) Triathlon aren’t so lucky. All of those events were canceled this year for a variety of reasons.

Officials with Racine’s Ironman 70.3 cited dwindling participation in recent years because of poor weather, rough roads for the bike portion and the addition of the Madison 70.3 just 100 miles to the west in Wisconsin’s capital city as reasons for no longer hosting the event, effective in 2018. Meanwhile, the Tri for Good Triathlon never recovered from its original name: Tri at the Trump, slated for Oct. 8 at Trump National Golf Club in Charlotte. Organizers canceled less than a month before that event was supposed to take place.

Pacific Sports LLC, the Newport Beach Triathlon organizers, reportedly has several beefs with city officials, who denied them a race permit for the event scheduled to happen Oct. 1. Pacific Sports also was accused of selling entries under “false pretenses” and is withholding refunds until the appeals process is completed.

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