SIOUX CITY | After a four-year hiatus, the Siouxland Lewis & Clark Marathon is being cancelled because of difficulty finding a 26.2-mile route, the event’s organizer said.
“It is a moving target to stay ahead of having a course," said race Director Steve Uhl, of the nonprofit Siouxland Marathon Inc. "There are just not that many options when you are trying to do a 26-mile course in the city."
The marathon, which would be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, attracted athletes from around the world. It was held each October but was canceled in 2010 because the Interstate 29 construction project eliminated about four miles of the riverfront trail, a key part of the route.
The marathon was scrubbed in 2011 and 2012 because of Missouri River flooding and the subsequent recovery effort, which also took out areas used for the event.
Uhl said momentum to restart the marathon has fizzled. Additionally, Hamilton Boulevard construction and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino project downtown have made planning a route even more difficult this year, he said.
Organizers prefer to use trails and limit street closures.
The race received funding from the Sioux City Sports Authority, which disperses state financial assistance for promoting non-professional athletic events. The agency in September lost $50,000 in state funds because it didn't meet a state requirement.
The 2009 race generated $197,000 in economic activity for the city and attracted 764 racers. Three options were offered -- marathon, half marathon and marathon relay race.
The first race in 2003 had 700 runners from six countries and 19 states.
Of the seven marathons, runners from Kenya won three of the first four events for men. Two runners from Sioux City combined to win the final four women's races through 2009.
For many years, more people ran the half marathon, 5-kilometer and relay races than the full marathon.
Jim Ewoldt, owner of Peak Performance, a shoe and athletic apparel store in Sioux City, said Sioux City was up against several marathons in the Upper Midwest around the same time. Runners will only do one or two marathons in a short time-frame, so that hurt Sioux City, he said.
The Des Moines Marathon was run in 2008 on the same date as the Lewis & Clark event, which drew 550 participants that year in the combined races. The Des Moines event on Sunday had more than 10,000 participants.
"There are too many quality marathons in October," Ewoldt said. "If you don't get 1,000 (participants), it is not worth doing."
Ewoldt said he’s planning a half marathon to fill the void in Sioux City, possibly around Labor Day. He expects the 13.1-mile race to have a better chance to succeed.
Bob Prince, who heads the Missouri River Runners Club in Sioux City, said a half marathon course could fit on a few trails in the metro area. Having such a course reduces the huge number of volunteers needed to stand at intersections to prevent traffic on the running course.
He said it could jumpstart a larger race. He said the end of the Lewis & Clark is a loss for the community.
"As a club, we'd love to see it happen, even a half-marathon to get started or to bring it back," Prince said.