The Kamloops Marathon’s future is in limbo.
Thompson Rivers University director of advancement Karen Gamracy said the institution is no longer running the July event and it seems unlikely to be held this year.
“There might be some possibility if somebody can pull it together in the fall, but I would think it would be doubtful,” Gamracy said. “Yes, it’s probably not going to go for 2019.”
“It was a labour love for us. We loved putting it together and seeing the results and it’s such a positive community event, but it had really come to the point where it was so much work for TRU advancement staff that really we weren’t able to do it any more with the resources it was taking.”
Christopher Seguin, former vice-president advancement and de facto spokesman for TRU, was influential in bringing the event to the city in 2012 and promoted it heavily each year until his death in September of 2017.
“His vision was always that we wouldn’t keep this forever,” Gamracy said. “We would get it up and running and his vision was to turn it over to a community group.
“His vision was always to make money for the WolfPack. After five years, we could just see it wasn’t going there quick enough.”
Much of the decision to pass on the reins came down to finances. The event, a Boston Marathon qualifier and fundraiser for the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Program, has not been a money-maker.
“We’re in a capital campaign called the Limitless Campaign, to raise money for the university and, really, all our resources have to be put to that now,” Gamracy said.
Charlie Bruce, the race director last year, said multiple running groups have expressed interest in taking over.
“We’re just waiting to hear from them,” Bruce said. “Nothing definite has been brought to my attention. I’ve heard nothing definite about whether the marathon is a go.
“My understanding is they [TRU] just wanted to refocus their energies into other areas of sport and recreational endeavours and they certainly gave it a good run. Other than that, I don’t know who made the final decision, but it was certainly one the university embraced.”
Gamracy said TRU plans to sponsor the event if another group takes over. The institution can offer materials, such as previously used signage, and support for the organizing committee.
Bruce said he would have liked to see another university department take over, perhaps adventure tourism or athletics and recreation.
“This would have been a great opportunity for them to get in on the ground floor and organize a major sporting event knowing there is a wealth of information and knowledge available to them should there be any challenges that were too overwhelming,” Bruce said.
Gamracy said those options have been discussed.
“We did kick it around,” Gamracy said. “There’s just nobody that would have the amount of time to put into something like that. It’s a big project.
“The amount of resources ... and we’ve been finding it tough to find volunteers in the middle of summer. And the last couple of years, with smoke, you’ve got that threat.”
The 2017 marathon was cancelled due to smoke from wildfires in the area, sparking worries the event may lose momentum, but a record-setting 537 participants pounded the pavement in 2018.