Races drop like flies,
and Rock 'n Roll events are not immune
It appears that running events have reached the saturation point, and only the fittest will survive.
Newcomers and large corporate-produced races alike are dropping like flies.
Several companies that put on themed fun runs have suddenly closed their doors, leaving registrants in the lurch with no hint or refunds. The latest is the firm that produced the Foam Runs, such as the one that was scheduled in Stockton earlier this summer.
Even the gargantuan Competitor Groupwhich puts on about three dozen Rock 'n Roll marathons and half-marathonsisn't immune.
The San Diego-based company has abruptly cancelled three half-marathons during the past few weeksthe Oct. 11 Cleveland RNR and the Nov. 23 Women's Running St. Petersburg Half Marathon. A sister race in Scottsdale, Ariz., scheduled for Nov. 2, also was cancelled.
Women's Running is a magazine published by the Competitor Group.
In a Sept. 3, 2013, statement, the group stated, "After a careful evaluation, we have made the difficult business decision to cancel the 2014 Rock ’n’ Roll St. Pete Half Marathon and focus our resources on the Women’s Running Half Marathon and the TriRock Clearwater Triathlon."
The statement was in reference to the Competitor Group's September 2013 cancellation of the Feb. 9 St. Pete Rock n' Roll Half Marathon after numbers didn't live up to expectations during the two years it was held.
In the same announcement, the Competitor Group also cancelled the Feb. 17 Kaiser Permanente Rock 'n Roll Pasadena Half-Marathon.
A few years ago, the Competitor Group expanded its race offerings to international venues, and at least one event hasn't survive. The Oslo, Norway, Rock 'n Roll Marathon, planned for May 31 earlier this year was "avbestilling," as they say in Norge.
Is the popularity of marathons waning?
Has the popularity of marathons cooled off or has the growing number of 26.2-mile event diluted the pool of runners?
Have the one-and-done runners completed their one marathon and now want to try a themed race, like a mud run, color run or an obstacle run?
Sacramento's California International Marathon (CIM) sold out at a record pace in 2013, closing registration on Aug. 23.
The event is capped at 8,000 runners for the marathon, plus additional teams for the marathon relay.
As of Sept. 12 this year, the event still was only 95 percent full. That leaves about 900 entries to sell out in the next eight days.
Will runners who are on the fence finally pull the trigger and register, seeing that registration is filling up? Will memories of last year's deluge make them think twice?
It will be interesting to see how things shape up in the next few weeks with CIM.
Of course, if you have a Boston Qualifying time, you don't have to worry. You can register well into October under CIM's guaranteed entry program.
Ripon to cut ribbon on new track
After several years of fund-raising efforts, including the annual Rina's Run, the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation will finally cut the ribbon on a new all-weather track.
The ceremony will be held at 7 p.m., Aug. 28, at Ripon High School, 301 N. Acacia Ave.
The first 1,000 to enter the gates will receive a cupcake from the Cupcake Lady.
More than 800 people donated $1.5 million to build the facility. Now the big question is will it be locked down, like Oakdale's and Stan State's, or will it be open to the public like Modesto Junior College and Merced Junior College?
For more information, visit the event's Facebook page. You don't need to be on Facebook to view the page.
Livermore Grape Stomp nixed for 2014
Citing the lack of a suitable date, Boulder Creek-based Finish Line Productions, which directs the Livermore Grape Stomp Half-Marathon, 10K and 5K, has announced that it won't be holding the event this year.
The website does not say whether the event will return next year.
In 2013, the events were held Oct. 20 at Robertson Park.
Producers of Foam Fest shut their doors
Spanish Fork, Utah-based Round House Racing, the company behind the nationwide themed Foam Fest 5K races, announced July 17 they were closing their doors and were planning to file for bankruptcy.
The company had planned an event Aug. 9 at the fairgrounds in Stockton.
The company's website said it would NOT issue refunds but that registered participants could contact Red Frog Events for free entry into one of its events, which includes the Warrior Dash and Bacon Chase.
Foam Fests had been scheduled through July 2015.
As late as July 20, however, the website for the Stockton Foam Fest was still active. But when you clicked on the "register" button, it gave a message that the event is unavailable for registration.
A search of the active.com site, which housed online registration, turned up the Stockton event. But a message on the header said "registration unavailable."
The Stockton event was priced at $70 pre-registration, $90 race day.
Central Valley runners fare well
at Western States
The so-called Super Bowl of ultra-running didn't disappoint June 28-29, as Rob Krar (pictured right), a pharmacist from Flagstaff, Ariz., ran the second fastest Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in history.
He finished in 14:53:22.
Tim Olsen holds the course record, running 14:46:44 in 2012.
Of the 407 people who toed the start line this year, 296 finished under the 30-hour cutoff.
Modesto's Nile Souza placed second in the 60-69 year age group with 25:38:08, a personal best by more than two hours.
Thomas Lopes of Riverbank, running his first Western, clocked 28:54:25.
And Jason Wara of Madera ran 22:49:50, good enough for the coveted silver belt buckle.
Runners who finish under 24 hours receive a silver belt buckle. Those who finish between 24 hours and the 30-hour cut-off receive a bronze belt buckle.
Tracy Bean Festival (and bean run) dies,
replaced by Taste of the Valley
If you've run the Tracy Bean Festival 5K or 10K in the past in September, don't plan on it this year.
The event most likely has gone by the wayside as has the entire Tracy Bean Festival.
In its place is the Taste of the Valley Art and Food Festival, which will focus on fine art as well as food and entertainment, according to a news release from the organizers, Tracy Chamber of Commerce.
The change was prompted by dwindling attendance at the bean festival. Odds are the new event will not have a running event tied to it.
The demise of the Tracy Bean Festival and the associated running events is the second in the past few months. The Stockton Asparagus Festival announced earlier that it was closing shop, also because of low attendance during the past two years.
The Asparagus Run had bounced back and forth between Saturday and Sunday for several years. This year, organizers tried to increase participation by replacing the 1-mile run with an untimed super hero run. It still had a 5K and a 5-mile run. This all may be moot now that the overall festival is no longer.
Meb wins Boston
Meb Keflezighi, who is probably better know as just Meb, became the first U.S. winner of the Boston Marathon since Greg Myers won in 1983.
Within the last 2 miles of the race, second-place Wilson Chebet of Kenya was as close as 8 seconds behind. But Keflezighi managed to gut it out and win the race in 2:08:37, April 21. Chebet finished 11 seconds back.
Several Central Valley runners also completed Boston. To search for runner results by name, hometown or bib number, visit www.baa.org.
Marathon participation continues to grow
Despite bad weather that forced the cancellation of several large marathons, participation in the 26.2-mile distance set a record in 2013.
That's according to the latest annual marathon report from Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Running USA.
Last year, 541,000 runners finished one of more than 1,100 marathons nationwide, breaking the 518,000-finisher record set in 2011.
During 2012, only 487,000 people finished, mostly because of the cancellation of the New York Marathon due to Super Storm Sandy.
Breaking down the 2013 figures, 57 percent of finishers were men and 43 percent were women. Masters, those 40 years old and older, accounted for 47 percent of finishers.
Since 1990, there's been a 140 percent increase in the number of marathon finishers. During the past decade alone, the number of finishes has increased 40 percent.
Median times, however, have soared since 1990, probably due to the influx of walkers and charity walker/runners. In 1990, the median finisher's time for men was 3:32:17 and for women, 4:03:39. By 2013, it was 4:16:34 for men and 4:41:38 for women.
Read the full report at Running USA.
Miguel Nuci, half-marathon winner
takes overall Modesto Marathon
title, sets course record
In somewhat of a rarity, a woman has bested all of her male counterparts in a marathon.
In this case, Anna Bretan was the overall winner of this year's Modesto Marathon. Last year, she was the overall female winner.
The 29-year-old from Berkeley won with a time of 2:41:52. She also broke her own course record from last year and clocked an Olympic marathon trials qualifying time.
Bretan's nearest competitor was Matthew Klundt, a 27-year-old male runner from Fresno, who finished in 2:44:22. He won the men's overall title.
In the half-marathon, Miguel Nuci from Turlock won with 1:11:07, breaking his own course record he set last year. And that was despite being led astray by the lead bike, an error that he said probably cost him about two minutes.
The lead cyclist wanted Nuci to make a turn, but Nuci said that wasn't correct and that he knew the course, since he ran it last year. The cyclist insisted, so Nuci followed, only to have the cyclist admit a bit farther on that Nuci was right. So Nuci had to backtrack.
Winning the women's half-marathon was 45-year-old Kristi Rossi from Hillsborough, who set a course record with 1:21:57.
Virginia Corridor segment begins
There's activity on the dirt part of the Virginia Corridor between Bowen and Woodrow avenues, and we're not talking about city street sweepers dumping sweepiings, either.
The half-mile stretch is now cordoned off with portable chain link fencing, and it appears construction on a new paved portion will begin shortly.
The Modesto Bee in July 2013 reported that the city was expected in August to put out bids for construction of the next extension.
Construction was expected to start in October 2013, according to the Bee, but it's quite apparent that didn't happen.
The cost was reported to be about $3 million for pavement, landscaping, lighting and benches. That comes out to about $6 million per mile.
The $3 million comes from grants the city received. Eventually the city hopes to extend the corridor north to Bangs Avenue, which the Bee reported would cost about $6 million and include a bridge over Standiford.
But based on the $3 million for just one-half mile without a bridge, that $6 million may be overly optimistic. There is no timetable for completion of the trail. Even if there were, the city doesn't seem to adhere to any timetable.
When competed, the Virginia Corridor will span 4.2 miles from College Avenue south of Stoddard Avenue to Bangs.
hope that the same contractor that built the new arm of the Leaking
Lena Bay Bridge isn't working on the corridor extension.
Running names Modesto's
Jon Olsen #2 ultra runner of 2013
Jon Olsen capped off a stellar year by being named Ultra Running magazine's #2 runner of the year.
Olsen led the U.S. ultra-running team to a gold medal in the World 24-hour Champions in Netherlands earlier this year. At the same time, he took individual gold in the event with a distance of 167.568 miles.
Later on he set an American record for 100 miles on a track, becoming the first American to crack the 12-hour barrier. Olsen ran 11:59:28.
The record stood only a few months before it was broken by Zach Bitter..
Olsen capped off 2013 by running the 48-hour Aravaipa Running Across the Years, placing second with 200.51 miles. That was after taking 13 hours off to collect himself.
Congratulations to Jon Olsen for recognition well deserved.