For the second year in a row, The Steamtown Marathon has been cancelled due to COVID concerns.
Registered runners will be given the option of receiving a full refund or donating all or part of their entry fee to Saint Joseph’s Center.
Sponsors that have already donated to the race will be fully reimbursed.
The race was scheduled for Sunday, October 10th which would have been the 25th running. Close to 1,400 runners had registered for the marathon.
Race officials cited the rising number of COVID cases, uncertainty over the Delta variant, and the possibility of last-minute government mandates as the primary reasons for cancellation.
Steamtown joins the Air Force Marathon, St. Luke’s Half Marathon in Allentown, and the Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon & Half Marathon as major fall road races that have cancelled their live events because of COVID.
The health and safety of our runners, volunteers, and spectators is of paramount concern said Race Director Bill King. “We anguished over this decision and know how much this is going to hurt the runners who have dedicated so much of their time and energy training for the event. However, with so much uncertainty with COVID cases rising, we felt this was the right decision at this time.”
King said a worse scenario would be if the race had to be cancelled at the last minute due to a government mandate. “A last-minute cancellation would been even more painful and frustrating,” he said.
“It really hurt when we had to cancel our 25th annual marathon last year due to COVID, but having to cancel again this year is devastating to all of us,” said King.
King said an unexpected issue with insurance was also a complicating factor. “We were busy finalizing our health and safety protocols, which would have included mask mandates on the bus rides to the starting line, temperature checks at packet pick up and potentially moving some of our traditional indoor activities to outdoor venues, when we learned that our insurance providers would not cover any issues related to COVID” said King. “As a small non-profit with limited resources, we could not move forward without adequate liability protection.”
King said finding insurance that provides COVID protection became an exercise in futility. “From what we were able to determine, finding such coverage is very difficult If not impossible. We believe the races that are still being held without adequate coverage are putting their officers and boards of directors at great personal risk. Our legal counsel advised us that we should not take on that risk”
Assistant Race Director Jim Cummings said when the marathon opened registration on February 1, the country appeared to be heading in the right direction with Covid. “Cases were declining and the population was getting vaccinated,” he said. “I think all of the race directors of fall races felt confident that they’d be in good shape this year. The spike in cases has really put a crimp in everyone’s plans.”
“I expect you will see a lot of race cancellations in the next few months,” Cummings said.
The Steamtown Marathon benefits Saint Joseph’s Center in Scranton. Since 1996, the marathon has donated more than $2 million to Saint Joseph’s.
“We are profoundly grateful to all of the sponsors and volunteers who supported us so enthusiastically this year,” said King. “No doubt they will be disappointed too. We feel their pain.”