Marathon Plans Scaled Back For 2008

OCEAN CITY – With uncertainty swirling around the future of the annual Ocean City Marathon, event organizers this week announced there would not be a full marathon next year for a variety of reasons, but there will be an event nonetheless which will likely include a half-marathon and a 5K race although no further details are available at this time.

As the clock continues to click down on 2007, questions arose about the future of the Ocean City Marathon held each April in and around the resort area for the last three years. No dates had been posted and the event’s official sponsor last year was uncertain if there would be race this spring, giving way to speculation the popular event had run its course. The marathon’s producer, Extreme Dream Events, this week answered many of the questions with an email sent to The Dispatch and a prepared statement posted on the event organizer’s new website.

“We have good news and bad news,” the statement reads. “After much debate, numerous meetings and sorting through a myriad of possible options, we must cancel the full marathon venue and replace it with a half-marathon venue. This change will affect 2008 and maybe 2009.”

Extreme Dream Events officials said the primary cause for the cancellation of the full marathon next year is the uncertainty surrounding the closure of the Route 50 bridge for as long as 35 days or more beginning early next month. The course for the first Ocean City marathon three years ago ran entirely through West Ocean City with a start and finish at Sunset Grille, but the starting line was moved to the Inlet in Ocean City two years ago with the course crossing the Route 50 bridge and meandering down to Assateague and back.

While the complete closure of the bridge is expected to be over well in advance of the marathon’s typical April date, work on the span could continue throughout the spring with intermittent lane closures, forcing Extreme Dream Events officials to reconsider the full marathon next year and beyond.

“Road construction, possible road construction, bridge work, possible bridge work in and around our usual marathon course forces us to make this change,” the statement reads. “We hope to bring the full marathon venue back in the future. We apologize to the many wonderful runners who have sent us emails looking forward to the full marathon in 2008.”

While race organizers have cancelled plans for a full marathon in 2008, they are moving forward with plans for a half-marathon and a 5K race in its place, although no details have emerged. The half-marathon and 5K race have been important elements in the larger event during the three years of its existence with thousands of local and runners from all over the country participating. Because of the uncertainties surrounding the bridge closure and repair work, it appears likely the proposed races would be run on a course in West Ocean City as they were in the inaugural event three years ago.

“The good news is, we will have an event and it’s going to be fun,” the statement from Extreme Dream Events reads. “Plans include a half marathon course that is fast, flat and friendly as well as a 5K course for the slightly less ambitious. The half marathon distance is a fun and very respectable challenge … 13.1-miles is the up-and-coming distance for today’s busy athlete and weekend warriors.”

Despite the lack of the glamorous full marathon this year and maybe next year, the proposed half marathon and 5K races will likely continue to attract hundreds of runners to the resort area. Last year, over 1,000 racers participated in the events despite a rare Easter weekend snow storm with hundreds participating in the half-marathon and 5K races.