Vancouver USA Marathon events canceled

Low pre-registration numbers led organizers to cancel event

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter and Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor

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Nicholas Cody had made his travel plans and, more importantly, boosted his longest training runs to 20 miles.

But his goal of running his first marathon was dealt a setback on Friday. Organizers canceled the 2017 Vancouver USA Marathon, citing low pre-registration numbers for the Sept. 17 race.

Cody, 22, grew up in Hockinson and attends law school at the University of Washington in Seattle.

An avid cyclist, Cody decided 2017 would be the year to give running a try.

“The big goal for anyone who starts running is to do a marathon,” Cody said. “I was ready to go, then this happens.”

Cody chose his hometown marathon not only so his extended family could watch him finish, but also for civic pride.

Now Cody shares uncertainty with hundreds who had pre-registered for what would have been the seventh annual Vancouver USA Marathon.

It is unclear whether their registration fee will be refunded.

“I’m frustrated,” Cody said. “It stinks. It was something I had been preparing for for a long time. But at the same time, I understand what it’s like to be in the race organizers’ shoes. Hopefully, they make it right.”

Race director Brian Davis announced the cancellation of the marathon and all related events in a news release issued Friday morning.

“Our ‘hidden gem of the Northwest’ has been a memorable marathon weekend that took many years to build and create,” Davis said. “However, after careful consideration for several weeks and reviewing the finances, we have decided to cancel this year’s race, regroup and re-evaluate for 2018.”

Much of the registration fees paid for early entry for the 2017 event have already been used for marketing, deposits and operational overhead. Davis said the event plans to issue partial refunds and may be able to offer complimentary entries into equivalent events. Additional details will be available later.

The early registration rate for the marathon was $80.

The weekend festivities were set for Sept. 15 to 17 and included the marathon, half marathon, a 5K, kids run, bike ride and beer festival, among other activities.

The Vancouver USA Marathon typically has more than 3,000 participants each year. But now, just a month out from race day, pre-registration was only about 65 percent of that.

“Our 2016 course mistake (shortened distance) really hurt us and our credibility,” Davis said. “This has jeopardized the future of the race and is reflected in the low pre-registration.”

“We are not the only race/event having challenges, and more and more come into the market, and it cannibalizes on the rest, like us, and has led to our cancellation,” he said.

The 2016 race was 1,126 feet short. That course-marking error led to the Boston Marathon announcing it would not accept any qualification times from last year’s Vancouver Marathon.

This was the first year the Vancouver USA Marathon event was scheduled for September. For the last six years, the event has taken place on Father’s Day weekend in June.

The Vancouver USA Marathon wasn’t the only local marathon having trouble. The 46th annual Portland Marathon has yet to secure a city permit for the Oct. 8 race.

The Portland Marathon was denied a permit after it refused to alter its race route to accommodate a Portland Police shortage.

The 2016 race almost didn’t happen after a dispute between race organizers and the Portland Fire Bureau about the event’s medical plan. Disorganization plagued the race as some runners ran nearly a half-mile farther than required and the wrong runner was awarded first place.

The Portland Marathon is also being investigated by the Department of Justice over alleged conflicts of interest.

The DOJ is investigating links between the nonprofit race and two for-profit companies.

The Portland Marathon and one of those companies, Next Event Productions, are both run by Les Smith and Mamie Wheeler. Each took a salary of about $150,000 for putting on the race in 2014.