The RunGloucester! Road Race, planned for a third staging this August, needed around 2,500 participants to cover the overhead costs of the event and generate benefit proceeds, organizers say.
As of Friday, however, only 94 runners had registered.
That, Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association (GFAA) fund-raiser Dick Wilson said, is the main reason why the GFAA and Dave McGilivray Sports Enterprise (DSME) decided the cancel the third annual race that had been set for Aug. 19.
"(DSME) does everything first class, and to put on a good show, it costs about $30,000 to put on the event the way they want," Wilson said.
"The last two years the race didn't make any money. Getting 1,000 runners at $35 a piece is not going to cut it. At this stage, we needed at least 2,500 runners to make money (for the GFAA and DMSE), and at this point we have 94, which is down from last year's registration numbers at this time."
"There are about 150 or so local runners that we will see in most local road races, and that means we were need 1,800-2,000 people from elsewhere," he said.
Expecting 2,500 runners may have been unattainable considering the 7-mile road race fell short of 1,000 in 2010 and 2011 — less than 2,500 combined. DSME and the GFAA had said in 2010 that they hoped to get 5,000 runners participating by its third year, with the event serving as a fund-raiser for the GFAA and McGilivray's DMSE Foundation.
DSME, a group that runs some of the most known races in the area including the Falmouth Road Race and the Boston Marathon, released this statement Friday in regards to the cancellation:
"We regret to announce that due to a number of reasons — primarily lack of major sponsorship for the second year in a row and overall limited interest — DMSE Sports and the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association have collectively decided it is not wise to continue with the Run Gloucester! race for 2012.
"We are very disappointed to have to announce this, but it simply isn't prudent to continue with the event this year if we can't guarantee a successful race. For those few who have already registered for the race, we will be refunding 100% of your entry fee along with the processing fee within the next few days. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.
"In 30 years of producing races," the statement continued. "this is the first time DMSE has had to cancel a race in this manner. We tried our best to make it work again this year, but now feel it is in everyone's best interest to cancel at this time and re-think the entire concept. We hope to see you at many of the other DMSE Sports races this year."
The first two years of the road race, which started and finished at the Fishermen's Memorial on Stacy Boulevard and looped around the Back Shore, had steady numbers over the first two years but no growth. The race field was also not as strong from year one to year two, as the winning times in 2011 were five and a half minutes slower than the winning times in 2010.
The summer road race schedule on Cape Ann and beyond is also very saturated which Wilson believes is another factor that led to low registration. Gloucester's road race schedule this summer is still packed with races such as the Fiesta 5K, the Seacoast 7, the Magnolia 5K, the Around the Cape Road race and the Long Gull 10k, just to name a few.
The RunGloucester! cancellation comes two months after the city's other major downtown race — the Fishermen's Triathlon, also pegged as a benefit for the GFAA — was canceled for August of this year as well.
Wilson, however, said the GFAA will look into other avenues to raise money for curbing local high school athletes user fees.
"We're in the business of making a profit and we will find something else that will make us a profit," Wilson said. "But we really appreciate what DSME has done here, they showed us what it's like to put on a first class event."
Nick Curcuru can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3454, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.