HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Rocket City Marathon was canceled early Saturday morning due to the possibility of severe weather moving into the Tennessee Valley.
They were hoping to run the Rocket City Half Marathon at 10 a.m. but unfortunately, they had to cancel the half marathon as well.
Dana DeBardelaben, race co-director, tells News 19 the decision was extremely disappointing. The race wasn’t held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve been working on this race for two years and it’s gone,” DeBardelaben said.
“We know that this comes as an enormous disappointment, not only to the runners but to the sponsors, spectators, volunteers and running community as a whole,” Rocket City Marathon organizers said in a statement. “The safety for all those involved is and will continue to be our top priority.”
DeBardelaben says organizing the marathon takes a coordinated effort with the Huntsville Police Department, using a large portion of the force to monitor the route. She says after the storm passed it became clear it wouldn’t be safe to hold the race.
“We had a power outage on the course, so police officers cannot leave that location, so they’re not available to work any other location. And there’s been some storm damage along the way in different parts of the city. When we use 70 percent of the police force, those police have to be in other places for other safety concerns,” she said.
Due to permits, organizing volunteers and police, and renting space for the events, DeBardelaben says they can’t simply reschedule the race. It’s cancelled for the year. Runners are not able to be refunded for their registration.
“All of the money that’s been paid for registrations and for sponsorship, that all went to pay for this year’s race, to pay for the venue, for the shirts, to pay for the medals, the finisher gifts, all the food, all the aid on the course, the list goes on of all the expenses that we had that we don’t get back,” DeBardelaben explained.
Runners in town were invited to the VBC South Hall to get their picture made, receive a finisher medal and gear, and enjoy some “post-race” food.
The annual race is scheduled to be held in 2022 in the second week of December. DeBardelaben there are some changes coming next year including making it a two-day event.