Annie Mattea

Milwaukee Marathon Canceled Second Year In A Row

The event was struggling with permitting for the course and security.

By - Sep 23rd, 2021 05:24 pm
Running. Photo by Josiah Mackenzie. (CC BY 2.0)

Running. Photo by Josiah Mackenzie. (CC BY 2.0)

The Milwaukee Marathon organizers announced Thursday that the marathon will not be held Oct. 23 as scheduled. 

The marathon, organized by Ventures Endurance, was originally scheduled for April 10, but was postponed to October following consultations with the Milwaukee Health Department

This is the second year in a row the marathon has not been held. The 2020 marathon was scheduled for April, but was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have been working tirelessly since postponing the race in February because of COVID-19,” marathon organizers said in an email to participants. “Despite months of working with the City of Milwaukee on necessary approvals, we were unable to make this date work. We can honestly say we tried everything we could to make this race happen, yet for the second year in a row, we won’t be able to host an in-person event.”

An email from Permits and Communications Specialist in the Department of Public Works Germaine Speth circulating on social media highlighted several issues the marathon faced, including permit problems and lack of availability from the Milwaukee Police Department.

One issue was that Milwaukee County Parks decided not to issue a permit to close Lincoln Memorial Drive, leading to a large amount of distance lost in the marathon. A new route have needed to be certified, “which necessitates precise measurements,” Speth’s email said. Alternative routes near American Family Field were also unavailable due to existing permits. 

MPD will be unable to staff the marathon due to the unknowns of the Milwaukee Brewers playoff schedule. MPD’s contract with the Brewers requires the department to secure American Family Field premises, and they were unable to enter into a contract with the Milwaukee Marathon, which was stated to be labor intensive. 

“It crushes us that we can’t run together again, especially when we know you have been training so hard. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until Spring 2022 for a chance at redemption. While we cannot provide a specific date quite yet, we are working closely with the City of Milwaukee to go back to our previous mid-spring timeframe,” marathon organizers said. 

Options for race attendees include deferring their registration to the 2022 Milwaukee Marathon, transferring registration to the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K in Chicago Nov. 7, transferring registration to any other Ventures Endurance event or receiving a full refund for their 2021 registration. The deadline to select an option is Oct. 22. For anyone who does not select an option, registration will be deferred until 2022.

The Milwaukee Marathon was launched in 2015 as the Milwaukee Running Festival and later acquired by Rugged Races. Rugged Races was acquired along with Ram Racing by Gannett and rebranded as Ventures Endurance in 2021. Gannett is the parent company of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Milwaukee Marathon faced difficulties even prior to the pandemic. In 2016, the race was determined to be too long, and in 2017 too short. The marathon was not held in 2018 but occurred without issue in 2019. 

The Lakefront Marathon, which starts in Grafton and ends in Milwaukee, is continuing as scheduled Oct. 3. 

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