The purchase of the Palm Beaches Marathon by the company that has driven the rapid growth of the ING Miami Marathon is a positive development for South Florida runners.
The Palm Beaches Marathon, run in early December the past eight years, was acquired this week by US Road Sports & Entertainment Group, which has operated the Miami event since 2007. During that time the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon has grown from 9,100 participants to a sellout of 25,000 in January.
Meanwhile, the Palm Beach race, one of South Florida’s Big Three marathons, has been on shaky ground since the Chamber of Commerce sold it in 2009 to a Chicago-based road race management group, BDO Management. Last year’s race was beset with problems and participant complaints following uncertainty as to whether it would even be held.
The Chamber reacquired the event early this year, and appears to have made a much better choice this time in entrusting the race to US Road Sports. The company produces endurance events around the nation, including five in Florida.
With the leadership and expertise of US Road Sports the Palm Beaches Marathon is now on track to become the nationally recognized race that the Chamber envisioned when they founded it,” said Dennis Grady, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.
The Palm Beach Marathon Festival Weekend includes the marathon and half marathon as well as a 5K, 10K and children’s races. It offers one of the most scenic courses, beginning along the Intracoastal Waterway and running between West Palm Beach and Lantana.
Last year it attracted 3,900 participants for all of the events, and US Road Sports expects participation to increase to more than 5,000 in 2012. A non-competitive bike tour has also been run in conjunction with the races.
“We are very excited and proud to be the new owners of the Palm Beaches Marathon. Anyone who is familiar with this area knows that the Palm Beaches is one of the premier destinations in the world,” said US Road Sports Managing Partner and Founder Peter Handy. “Partnering with the Chamber of Commerce is a unique strategy and will provide a dynamic combination of strengths that will deliver a spectacular weekend of running for years to come.”
The first challenge will be to return stability to the event and convince participants that recent problems are in the past. Last December, runners were outraged that there wasn’t enough water on the course and that some didn’t receive finisher’s medals.
Photo: Last year there weren't enough medals for all finishers at the Palm Beach Marathon. The event will be run this year by US Road Sports, which manages the ING Miami Marathon and other endurance events throughout the country. (FIle photo)