Stillwater Marathon has Problems

According to the Stillwater Courier the inaugural Stillwater Marathon has an uphill battle to come into existence.

When creating a new event there are usually a lot of hoops to jump through.  I’ve previously highlighted some of the problems that the Indy Classic Marathon had last year. So far the Stillwater Marathon has a different set of problems.  First, they need to get approval from city council. The organizers are hoping to have a marathon distance event over Memorial Day weekend in 2009.  But this week, the Stillwater City Council took the item off their agenda, delaying any decision indefinitely.

A group of Stillwater businesses developed a petition containing 39 signatures which is the likely cause for the council’s action.  The petition requested that the marathon meet the following conditions:

  1. that the marathon should not start or end in the downtown historic district or within one mile;
  2. that it not occur any weekend between and including Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend;
  3. that if an approved route runs through downtown Stillwater, a user fee be assessed toward a “Beautification and Bathrooms” fund for the historic district;
  4. that all runners be through the district by 9 a.m.; and
  5. that alternate, adequate parking and transportation be enforced and spectators and participants be prohibited from parking in the city’s parking lots in the historic district.

From my understanding, this takes away much of the context that the event’s planners were hoping to do with the event.  In previous discussions with my running buddies we had talked about the event’s viability even if it gained approval.

It seems that there has been a huge influx of marathons in Minnesota (and surrounding states) in the spring-time.  Here is a list:

Updated: I just found another marathon… Team Ortho’s Minneapolis Marathon on May 31.  And also the Brookings Marathon in Brookings, SD.

Updated 12-17 The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Stillwater Marathon was given unanimous approval for their May 24th race date. Read more here.

Despite the idea that Minnesota is now expected to be home to four marathons within a month of each another, race organizers aren’t flinching about the crowded field.

“There are so many runners out there, I don’t think this will matter,” said John Larson, executive director of Team Ortho Foundation, which is organizing the Minneapolis Marathon. “Each race has unique features, whether it’s different pasta parties or the unique flavor of the city.”

That is 13 15 marathons within a month of Memorial Day Weekend and note that there are 2 marathons within a few hours drive of Stillwater during Memorial Day weekend. Oh and previous reports indicate that it won’t be an easy course, with lots of hills interspersed throughout.

Just some thoughts.  What are your thoughts?

[tags] Marathon, Stillwater [/tags]

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20 thoughts on “Stillwater Marathon has Problems

  1. Jim Carlen

    I think you are correct that there already are an excessive number of marathon races (Waukesha was cancelled) but a really good marathon in Stillwater would probably do ok since it is closest to the actual Twin Cities metro. Alot depends on people's perception of the quality of the organization and route. A poorly laid out web site and lame route would cause it to do poorly. Most people who run these sorts of races do perhaps one marathon per year (?) – you want it to be a good one.

  2. crossn81 Post author

    You bring up some good points Jim. Perception is reality for many of these events. All of the negative press definitely, doesn't help that! And thanks for the update about Waukesha, I should have actually investigated each link!

  3. Colorado Runner

    Yeah, I'm blown away at how many marathons there are in a concentrated area. In Colorado, there are a lot but they differ quite a bit in terms of the course, some are in the mountains, etc.

  4. crossn81 Post author

    I don't know much about the different marathons I listed but it seems most of them are pretty similar, maybe just running along different rivers and such. Not a lot to distinguish one from another – except of course Grandma's which runs along Lake Superior and is extremely well known.

  5. lal

    One major difference among the races listed and the Mpls and Stillwater marathons is proximity to a metropolitan area. (3 million people and all the lodging that implies.)

    any race that does not involve a 3 hour plus trip or a stay in a hotel with the accompanied event pricing is "free" in my race schedule. and a very welcome addition!


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  7. runnermom

    I thought it sounded like a good option for a 20 mile training Run in Stillwater as prep for Grandmas in June. If the city is that bent up about the idea that is disappointing and will likely effect the success of future races. The runners will feel the lack of supprt.

  8. crossn81 Post author

    @runnermom it is true if the city doesn't come around and be supportive by Memorial Day it could be a painful experience, but if the city embraces it, then it could really take off. I hadn't thought about using the 20 mile run to get ready for Grandma's. That would be similar to City of Lakes 25k before TCM. Good thoughts!

  9. burty

    I am a newby to Marathons. I've only got 2 under my belt. I signed up for the Stillwater Marathon to get in on the ground floor of what should be a beautiful marathon. Many thanks to the people of Stillwater for allowing a group of self-centered runners to enjoy your city for a day. If necessary, I will continue to run Grandma's in future years and I will volunteer in the Stillwater race to make sure that one of Minnesota's treasures remains clean and happy. Stillwater is awesome!!!

  10. crossn81 Post author

    @burty thanks for your comments and good luck at Stillwater. It looks like their website is up and accepting registrations. I think I'm going to pass on it, but in a few years when the event is a huge success you are welcome to stop back by and say "I told you so!" and maybe I'll regret not being a streaker at Stillwater! Are you planning to run both this year or just Stillwater?

  11. burty

    I will likely run just the Stillwater next year. If I do an un-likely second, it will be the Twin Cities. My body was wracked after Grandma's and the TC in '08. Two marathons in under 4 months is too much for a 43-year old guy just getting into running. As the June '08 Grandma's was my first marathon ever, and a very intense and satisfying experience for me, I feel some guilt at my decision to bolt to Stillwater so soon. But as my wife reminded me a few days ago, these things can be over-thought.

    Thanks for your BLOG Cross81!!!


    I think the race will be done well. We are using the same protocols and procedures as TCM. Bill Roberts the Medical Director for TCM is assisting the race planning. It looks like once Grandma's fills and closes registration that Stillwater will be well attended. Plus the 20 mile is a great warm up for the numerous other marathons later in the season.

  13. lal

    Is anyone familiar w/ the stats on when Grandma's typically fills??

    I'm wondering if the recession will noticeably cut into destination race participation? My family is still heading to Catalina for the marathon this month, but we'll probably cut back on Fall races.

  14. crossn81 Post author

    @ lal It seems that Grandma's closes in early April usually. As of 2/18/2009 Down the Backstretch was reporting that the field was over two-thirds full. So it would seem to be on pace to fill again. I can't speak for everyone but I'm not planning to change my race schedule – but I'm avoiding over priced races and I don't usually travel anyways.

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