As the status of the Minneapolis Marathon remained in limbo just weeks before the race, organizers on Friday said they are working to secure an alternate course and accommodate runners who have signed up for the June 5 event, including offering full refunds.
About 2,400 runners were expected to participate in the marathon and associated events, but this week the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board denied a permit request from Team Ortho Foundation because the proposed course ran along a portion of West River Parkway that has been closed for two years following a mudslide and over the Franklin Avenue Bridge, which is under construction. Last year, the marathoners ran by Theodore Wirth Park.
E-mails explaining the status of the race and outlining runners’ options to recover their $95 registration fee or apply them to other events will be sent out early next week when the foundation expects to know if a plan to move the race to Dakota County is approved, said spokesman Ted Davis.
“We are working to accommodate the needs of the runners,” he said.
The Team Ortho Foundation, which encourages active living and better orthopedic health through athletic events, first submitted its permit application to the Minneapolis Park Board in August 2015. The Park Board told the foundation that it could not approve its request and told Team Ortho to submit a revised course because of the road closure on West River Parkway and construction on the Franklin Avenue Bridge.
“We’ve sent multiple e-mails explaining the route needs to be changed, and we’ve not heard back from them,” said Park Board spokeswoman Dawn Sommers. “As of Monday, they have not finalized their route, so we denied their permit.”
Davis said he could not comment about the communication with the Park Board, but only learned this week that the board would not allow the race to happen.
That led to talks between Team Ortho and Dakota County with hopes of holding events there. Within the past two days, Team Ortho has applied for a right of way permit that would allow the race to be run on county roads, a county spokeswoman said Friday.
“We’re working to see if we can accommodate them,” said spokeswoman Mary Beth Schubert. “We will not be able to accommodate them in the parks.”
That decision is expected early next week.
In the meantime, a countdown clock to race day continues to tick on the Minneapolis Marathon website, and as of Friday there was no information posted that the race’s fate was up in the air. Runners who caught word of the conundrum took to Facebook to complain and peppered Team Ortho with questions. The foundation responded by saying “the course will not be the same as last year. We are working on the new course and should know by Monday at which time we can answer your question. Thanks for your patience.”
The Minneapolis Park Board issues 250 permits for large events a year, but in most cases event organizers wait until permits are approved before promoting their events. Sommers said she was surprised to learn that the race has been promoted even through no permit had been approved.
At this point, even if a revised racecourse were to be submitted, the Park Board would not be able to give its approval. Sommers said it would take 80 park and Minneapolis city police to man the course and crews would be needed to set up barricades along the 26.2 mile route.
“It is unfortunate they were unable to determine a new route for their June 5 event in time for the other critical logistics to be determined and arranged,” Sommers said.
The Minneapolis Marathon is one of seven local events the foundation has on its 2016 calendar.
Over the past four years, Team Ortho has held 12 events in Minneapolis parks. The most recent was the Get Lucky 7K on March 12.
If the marathon does not go on, it won’t be the first time the foundation has canceled an event. Last August it pulled the plug on a duathlon.