Thursday, February 12, 2004

Arlington County, Va., has nixed a marathon scheduled for May2 along the county’s bicycle and running paths.

“For this year, the [Arlington Marathon] is over,” said Capt. Rich Alt, deputy director for Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management, which has purview over such events. “The people who put on premier events in Arlington County have to have the capacity to put on premier events. In marathons, you need lots of manpower. A marathon is a huge, complicated event.”

Though Alt would not elaborate on the specifics, he said the problem was “a question of some administrative issues from the event organizers that needed to be enhanced. The event organizers had every opportunity to do this correctly.”

The organizing group, the Arlington Co. Running Club, is led by veteran runner and race director Jay Wind, who said he received the rejection letter from Arlington County on Wednesday.

“It appears we will have to find another venue,” Wind said. “The Arlington police turned down our application for a permit. We’ll look elsewhere. If that fails, we’ll make refunds. This is not how I expected it to work out.”

Wind said he has received the county mandated maximum of 250 applications from runners.

“It’s really sad. I’m disappointed,” said Wind, adding that since 1981, he never has had a permit denied in Arlington.

Alt acknowledged that the decision was made in conjunction with the Arlington Parks and Recreation Department, Arlington Fire Department, Arlington Police Department, Risk Management and the Office of Emergency Management.

Wind has been fighting an uphill battle to stage a marathon since he tried to resurrect the now-defunct Washington DC Marathon that shut down days before it was scheduled in 2003. He tried several times to convince the District government to allow a marathon in March.

His proposals were rejected as District officials opted to forego a 2004 race because they believed there was not enough time to plan a quality event of a marathon’s magnitude.

Wind found a home for his race in his hometown of Arlington on Dec.9, when Arlington’s Special Events Work Group approved his proposal.

Soon after, Wind became embroiled in controversy when it was discovered he incorrectly stated on his proposal that his Arlington Co. Running Club was a member of the Road Runners Club of America. RRCA provides liability insurance for its member clubs’ races, which now is a requirement from municipalities, including Arlington County.

RRCA denied Arlington Co. Running Club’s application for membership. Wind appealed, but the RRCA board recently voted unanimously not to include Wind’s club.

Wind said he is contemplating other locations. Meanwhile, Alt did not close the door on holding Wind’s marathon next year, saying, “Arlington County is always interested in quality events.”

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