Annual Marathon May Have Run Its Course

OCEAN CITY – The future of the Ocean City Marathon remains uncertain this week with no firm dates for the 2008 event on the calendar yet with just a few short months until the time of year when the race is normally held.

Just three years into what has become a popular annual spectacle in the resort area each April, no official word on a date for the 2008 Ocean City Marathon has been announced and it appears, at least on the surface, that the event might have run its course. City officials have reportedly had cursory meetings with the marathon’s producer, Extreme Dream Events, although the results of those discussions are not known.

What is known is that the Extreme Dream Events website, which each year in the past has listed tons of information on the upcoming race months in advance and even included a countdown clock for the start of the next Ocean City Marathon well in advance of the date, makes no mention of a 2008 marathon in Ocean City. In fact, the event producer’s website shows only a handful of pictures from last year’s snowy marathon with no information or links about this year’s event.

A check of several websites that track marathon schedules around the country and the rest of the world, including marathonguide.com and Runners World, list hundreds of events for 2008 but none make any mention of a marathon in Ocean City next year. The Extreme Dream Events organizers could not be reached for comment.

In addition, the Ocean City Marathon’s main sponsor last year, Ocean City Factory Outlets, has not signed on for an anticipated 2008 event, according to sources, and neither has the beneficiary of last year’s charitable fundraiser, Agape of Berlin.

“It’s the weirdest thing,” said Agape Director Leigh Sandifer. “We haven’t heard a single word from them. They came to us last year seeking a charity for the event, but we haven’t been in contact with them since last year’s race.”

If race organizers are still hoping to bring back the Ocean City Marathon next spring, they haven’t yet gone through the usual channels with the town of Ocean City. In the marathon’s first year, it was an exclusively West Ocean City event with the start and finish line at Sunset Grille, but the start was moved to the Ocean City Inlet in the second year with the runner’s starting in Ocean City and crossing the Route 50 Bridge for the rest of the course.

Because the race started in Ocean City the last two years, Extreme Dream Events applied for and received a special event permit from the town including the approval of the Ocean City Mayor and Council and various departments in the city government such as the police and public works, for example. This year, however, with the anticipated race date just a few months away, town officials have not heard anything from race organizers, according to Public Relations Director Donna Abbott.

“We haven’t heard a thing,” she said. “Usually, they would have filed for a special permit by now, especially considering the logistics involved with putting on the event, but we haven’t received a request. I’ve looked at what has been scheduled for 2008 thus far and there is no marathon listed anywhere. Sooner is better than later, but I guess there still could be time.”

City Manager Dennis Dare said he nor the town’s elected officials would see any plans for a return of the marathon until they had been through the special events permit process.

“They would have likely had to file for a special events permit by now if they were considering bringing it back, but I don’t recall seeing anything on it,” he said. “A lot of times on an event like this, they’ll make a reservation in advance for the same time next year, but I don’t think they did that in this case.”

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