On June 1, 2014, the Minneapolis Marathon was cancelled. At first, the race was postponed for an hour because of the risk of thunderstorms. However, as a second round of storms approached, the race was cancelled (the storms never actually hit the area). The race stated:
“Since, we could not guarantee the safety of our 6,000 runners, 500 volunteers and event staff with this weather coming – even for the shorter distance of the half marathon – we chose to cancel.”
Initially, marathon officials stated that no refunds would be issued. However, a couple of days later, fairly significant discounts were offered on the 2015 race (or several other possible races).
Last minute cancellations are no longer unusual. The NYC Marathon’s cancellation in 2012 is probably the most well-known, but races have been cancelled in Memphis (snow), Dallas (ice and cold), Myrtle Beach (snow and ice), Green Bay (heat and humidity), Sheffield (UK) (water shortage), etc.
Runners often train for marathons for twelve weeks or longer. There are dozens of hours of training leading up to one big day.
What should race directors do? Let runners brave the cold and snow? Allow runners to go out and suffer in the heat?
One extreme example of a race not being cancelled was recently in the news (again). In 2011, the Kimberley Ultramarathon, a 100km race was held in Australia. A grass fire had already been burning for several days in El Questro Wilderness Park, but during the race, the wind whipped up and several runners were trapped in a flaming gorge. Turia Pitt and Kate Sanderson suffered severe burns over the majority of their bodies, while two male competitors had burns on approximately twenty percent of their bodies. Racing the Planet, which still puts on races, denied fault, despite a parliamentary committee finding they did not take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the runners. Regardless, Kate Sanderson reached a settlement with the company last year and Turia Pitt recently reached a reported $10 million settlement.
What do you think?
Do you think about the risks of a race when you sign a waiver?
Have you ever been signed up for a race that was cancelled?