Update 1:20 p.m.: The marathon has been canceled. Organizers released this statement:
Update: From the Dallas Marathon Facebook page, “Due to current weather conditions, the opening of the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon Health & Fitness Expo has been delayed until 2 p.m. Friday. At this time, we urge all participants planning to retrieve their race packets to avoid driving downtown Friday morning. We will notify participants, volunteers and the general public of additional updates on our social media pages, website and through media outlets.” Still no word on how the weather will affect Sunday’s race.
Dallas Marathon organizers expect the race to go on as planned. But if it doesn’t what does it mean for the race its runners and beneficiaries and our city?
Despite some panic about the weather among runners, Dallas Marathon organizers are proceeding with plans for this weekend’s health and fitness expo, Mayor’s 5k and marathon/half-marathon, according to a late afternoon Wednesday email.
“We are closely monitoring the Dallas weather forecast and unless conditions are deemed unsafe for our race participants by the Dallas Police Department or the City of Dallas, we anticipate that the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon will go on as planned.”
We will issue race updates via the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon email database, social media channels and through media outlets. Final runner instructions will be emailed later this week,” the notice continues.
If the marathon gets iced and canceled, it most likely would not be rescheduled.
Last year, the canceling of the New York City Marathon due to Hurricane Sandy caused race director Mary Wittenberg a logistical and financial nightmare way worse than anything our relatively benign situation might yield.
Still, the canceling of the race would cost the organizers, local business and beneficiary, The Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, a hefty sum.
Race directors do not have to reimburse entrants if the event is canceled due to an act of God — most, including Dallas, have a no-refund policy that covers this, but the industry standard in the case of cancelation seems to be to offer refunds or rollover entries to next year’s race. (Note: the Dallas Marathon folks are not prepared to answer those sorts of questions yet, so this is just hypothesis based on recent histories).
Here’s an excerpt from last year’s Advocate story about the marathon’s fiscal impact, which gives you an idea of what we stand to lose if weather stops the race:
The Dallas Marathon in 2011 boosted overall economic activity in the city by $8.7 million, according to a economic and fiscal study of the 2011 White Rock Marathon by two professors at SMU Cox School of Business. Spending by non-local race entrants and their guests is the most significant factor, according to the report. “When runners come to town for the race, they stay in the city for an average of 1.62 days and often bring companions with them. While in town, they spend money for lodging, meals, transportation, retail and entertainment.”
Additionally, the marathon employed 101 workers, and the city reaped an additional $264,000 in tax receipts. Countywide, the White Rock Marathon/Dallas Marathon surpassed $11 million and supported 120 jobs, both full-time and seasonal.
In 2010, the White Rock Marathon presented a check for $1 million to the TSRH.
A few years back Boston faced a wintery mix storm just prior to its marathon. Boston.com has a story about how Ice, wind, sleet, rain, downed power lines and no-show volunteers just about canceled the 2007 marathon.
The story sounds strikingly familiar. The Wednesday before Boston Marathon day (the following Monday) the meteorologists predicted a pending “storm of epic proportions”.
Our weathermen are equally dramatic. One said today that Dallas will be “entombed with ice” come Sunday.
In Boston 2007 … “the story exploded. Rumors were flying, even after the Boston Athletic Association issued a statement saying Monday’s race was still a go. It did little to quell the speculation. By the end of the day, even the Weather Channel had come to town.”
See the panicked runners and TV news reporters embarking on Luke’s Locker today for evidence of the parallels.
Same as in Boston that year, decisions about the running of Sunday’s Dallas Marathon will be made by a group of city, police and race officials. No one will want to cancel it and if they do it will undoubtedly be with heavy hearts and guts sick from frittered time and money.
Another consideration at Boston was that if the race were canceled, officials assumed, runners would simply run the course on their own, race or no race. It’s a fair assumption; runners in New York did it. Based on my Facebook perusal, some Dallas runners already are formulating Plan B.
In the end — though some runners never left the airports, and downed power lines had to be removed from the course moments before the start — the 2007 Boston Marathon went on. Though the weather and life, in general, is unpredictable, it is probable that we will be able to say the same for Dallas.