GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon has been cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Cathy Noel said her children asked if they are finally getting turkey dinner for Thanksgiving this year. They will be.

Noel is the general manager and race director of the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon, which announced Wednesday that the 41st running scheduled for Oct. 11 has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event has been a Thanksgiving long-weekend tradition in the city for four decades. An economic impact study last year by Destination Greater Victoria estimated the race accounts for $12 million of economic activity in the region annually. More than $2 million has been raised over the past 16 years by the marathon’s charity component.

More than 8,000 participants took part in the 40th anniversary race last year. About 1,100 people had registered so far this year. They can transfer their registration fee to the 2021 or 2022 races or have the option of a refund with the donation of part of their refund to one of the marathon’s charities.

“We were building off the success of the 40th anniversary race and were well ahead of pace in February to exceed last year’s registrations before talk of the pandemic became a factor,” said Noel.

Several name marathons scheduled for earlier in the year, including Boston and London, have postponed to fall dates. The Chicago Marathon, held on the same day in October each year as the Victoria race, and New York City Marathon scheduled for Nov. 1 have not yet cancelled or postponed. But last week’s B.C. government announcement that the ban on gatherings of more than 50 people would not be lifted until a vaccine is developed or herd immunity attained sealed the fate of Victoria’s marathon.

“Every city, province or country is in a bubble of its own with different regulations. We have to follow our provincial regulations,” said Noel, who has managed the Victoria marathon for 19 years.

Jonathan Foweraker, president of the Victoria Marathon Society, concurred.

“We are deeply disappointed to have to cancel the event, especially after a very successful 40th race last year, but we need to respect the order from the provincial health officer,” he said.

“We are sensitive to the impact this will have on our valued sponsors, community partners, vendors and volunteers as well as our incredible participants, who had the 2020 event as their race goal. This will also have an unprecedented impact on our charitable partners, who crossed the $2 million threshold last year.”

Noel said that cancelling five months out allowed the Victoria marathon event to make some key savings.

“We were able to defer our shirt order to next year. That made the decision easier,” she said.

Noel touched on the democratic nature of road races and said the cancellation stings as much on a human as business level.

posted Thursday May 14th
by Cleve Dheensaw