- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2003

D.C. officials said yesterday that they were outraged by the cancellation of the D.C. Marathon and accused the organizers of being greedy.
"What they are doing is unconscionable," said Tony Bullock, spokesman for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, adding that the mayor wasn't consulted about the decision. "There is no reason for them not to be holding it. Apparently they determined that they weren't going to make any money."
The D.C. Marathon, which was scheduled to take place Sunday, was canceled Wednesday night because of concerns about the war in Iraq, the heightened terror alert and this week's tractor standoff, according to John Stanley, race director.
Organizers said they canceled the race after they got more than 1,200 telephone calls and e-mails from worried runners. More than 68,000 runners from 50 states and 14 countries registered for this year's race.
Mr. Bullock said no conventions or other large D.C. events had been canceled as of yesterday, and that Mr. Williams will not support next year's marathon without first talking to organizers.
Mr. Bullock also said organizers were "ducking" their responsibility to answer questions about the decision and provide more information about the cancellation. "Their phones are unplugged, and top officials are nowhere to be found," he said. "This is completely unacceptable to people relying on the event being held."
The number to call with questions about the race or to get comments from organizers about the cancellation remained busy throughout the day yesterday. Calls to determine whether a marathon-related Health and Fitness Expo was still being held at the D.C. Armory today and tomorrow were not returned yesterday.
The Web site Runnersweb.com posted a statement written by race organizers.
"Due to security issues, we are canceling the 2003 race," the statement read. "We apologize, however, we feel that it is in the best interest of all runners, families, spectators and residents of the District of Columbia. No one is more disappointed by this turn of events than the organizers. While we, until late this afternoon, believed that a successful race was possible, we are not willing to jeopardize a safe celebration in the current environment."
Organizers said they would automatically register participants for next year's race, which is scheduled to take place March 21, 2004.
Some runners who had registered to run in the race handled the news yesterday with aplomb.
"I'm cool with it," said Chris Llinas, a lawyer from the Eastern Shore. "Washington is the most secure city in the United States and yet it can only be made so secure. The folks running it were probably concerned with their liabilities at a time like this. I understand."
Hotel managers in the District said they were upset because it cost them room hours.
"We actually lost about 150 room nights, 50 rooms a night for three nights, and we're disappointed about that," said Doug Duba, general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn in Northwest.
Bill Edwards, general manager for the Washington Hilton and Towers, said canceling the marathon was premature. "Obviously it was disappointing. … What they should have done is postpone the event maybe two or three weeks but not cancel," said Mr. Edwards, who also is the area vice president of the hotel chain. "You'll have to ask the organizers what their reason was."
The marathon was the first convention-type client to cancel, Mr. Edwards said. A convention dinner that was to take place this weekend was postponed until November.
Meanwhile, the organizers of the Marine Corps Marathon are offering D.C. marathon runners 1,000 guaranteed entries to its Oct. 26 event. Instead of entering an online lottery, D.C. marathon runners will need to send a copy of their official registration confirmation and a letter requesting a spot in the Marine Corps event. The first 1,000 applications received will be accepted, and those people will be sent an application for the Marine Corps event.
Steve Nearman contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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