The inaugural Route 66 Mother Road Marathon, set to take place Oct. 3 on Route 66 from Miami, Okla., through Kansas to Joplin, Mo., will be delayed until 2010 because of a weak economy and problems with certifying the race, reported the Joplin Globe.
According to the Globe, organizers were worried about attracting enough sponsors amid a spiraling economy. That’s no small thing, as it’s been estimated the marathon’s costs could be as much as $80,000. Delaying the race to late 2010, they figured the economy might be in a recovery by then.
Organizers also saw difficulties in certifying the race as a qualifier for more popular marathons in Boston or New York.
Vince Lindstrom, head of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “This would be the first regional event where everyone in our area benefits. We have one chance to make a first impression. We don’t want to blow it with a bad marathon where they won’t come back.” […]
“We have to verify elevations, that the course would be closed and that its length is exactly 26.2 miles,” he said. “The marathon starts in Miami (Okla.) and concludes in Joplin. It would involve three states, three counties and several different municipal jurisdictions.
“That has become more of a challenge than we anticipated. We cannot tell runners that it is a sanctioned course until it is officially certified.”
Shortly after the race was announced in December, I could not figure out on Google Maps how to keep the course on Route 66 from Miami to Joplin and keep it to just 26.2 miles. The distance on that road between those cities is closer to 30 miles, not 26. Shortening it to 26.2 would have required the race to start in Commerce, Okla., north of Miami. Or it would have finished on the very western outskirts of Joplin — not downtown as originally envisioned.
Apparently the organizers discovered these same layout difficulties shortly after I did. I’ll be curious to see how they eventually handle it.
In the meantime, long-distance runners can take solace with the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, set for Nov. 22.