But as recent news reminds, there’s a concurrent counter story, with some smaller marathons struggling to stay on the calendar.
Earlier this week, the Joplin, Missouri city council dropped its support for the Mother Road Marathon, which went through three states and was run partly on Route 66. According to the Joplin Globe, the council thought the municipal funds devoted to the race weren’t merited given the event’s declining numbers. In its inaugural running in 2010, the race, which also includes a 5K and half marathon, had a field of 1,657. This year, there were 572 among the three events, including 176 marathoners.
Also this week, the Rocketfest Marathon, held in Hampton, New Hampshire in October, announced that it will be only a half marathon in 2014.
“Issues concerning long delays to area residents on the roads of Hampton have prompted us to limit the event to the half marathon distance only,” race organizers said in an email to runners.
As Seacoastonline reports, the town board has been concerned with the impact the 5,000-runner event, which this year had a half marathon and marathon, has on area roads. On the one hand, town residents have complained that the race is too much of a disruption to normal traffic patterns on larger roads. On the other, the town’s police chief doesn’t favor running much of the marathon on smaller roads, which can’t simultaneously accommodate runners and auto traffic. Town officials are especially attuned to the issue because a motorist killed two cyclists during a bike race there in September.
In their email to runners, Rocketfest officials announced a preliminary plan to put on a marathon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on October 26, three weeks after the Hampton race. That marathon would be on a two-loop course that still needs town approval.
Some Joplin-area runners are hoping to keep some sort of long race, probably a half marathon, alive in their area, according to a follow-up report by the Joplin Globe. If they succeed, they’ll follow in the footsteps of other recent efforts to revive canceled marathons in Columbia, South Carolina and Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
As we’ve reported throughout 2013, many towns are pushing back against the ever-expanding road race calendar. Because they require more road closures and last for so long, marathons are especially subject to cost/benefit analysis from local officials.
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Source: Runner’s World By Scott Douglas