Chamber chief: Palm Beach marathon will be back for 2017


The marathon is back. Or will be, next year.

After Life Time Fitness said this summer it would no longer operate the Eau Palm Beach Marathon & Run Fest, the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches has exercised a contract clause to regain rights to the race, at a nominal cost. The chamber plans to assign a local operator to run it, Chamber CEO Dennis Grady said this week.

To read the latest headlines from West Palm Beach, go to: palmbeachpost.com/westpalm

At times during its 12-year run, the event drew as many as 7,000 participants. Last year it was down to 3,700.

Life Time — which said it was leaving to focus on its much larger Miami Marathon — didn’t have a strong enough connections with the local community to get traction in West Palm Beach, Grady said. The event requires the ability to sell to local and national sponsors and to attract participation of local operators and other supporters, he said. “You can’t run this by absentee ownership.”

The chamber had that local strength when it ran the event for a half-dozen years starting in 2004, he said.

“We feel confident it will return to those numbers and exceed those rather quickly,” Grady said.

It’s too late to organize a marathon for this year but as a place-holder the Chamber plans a 5-kilometer run this year, in conjunction with the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree.

“We’ll be full-bore for the return of the Marathon of the Palm Beaches to its glory days, the first weekend of December 2017,” he said.

Facebook users, follow https://www.facebook.com/postonwestpalm/ for the latest news and updates.

The Chamber expects to announce a local operator for the 2017 race soon, he said.

The Chamber sold the race in 2010 to Chicago-based Devine Racing, a company that had been taken to court “at least four dozen times” by business and individual plaintiffs, according to a 2009 article in The Salt Lake Tribune. The Internal Revenue Service filed liens against Devine Racing, owner Chris Devine and his radio station businesses.

By the time Devine assembled his West Palm Beach team, it had only 61 days to prepare for the 2011 race. The event drew concern from some runners because of its 6:45 a.m. start; for many, the finish of the full marathon would come close to noon, when conditions would be much hotter. In all, 2,701 people crossed a finish line that year, compared with an estimated 7,200 participants the year before.

Devine sold the marathon for an undisclosed amount to U.S. Road Sports, which ran the 2012 and 2013 events. Then in January 2014, Life Time bought out U.S. Road Sports.

Life Time ran the 2014 and 2015 events without incident. But the company notified the chamber this summer that it would not do the event in 2016.

Amy Williams, a spokesperson for Life Time, said Thursday the company had a full portfolio of races and chose to leave Palm Beach to focus on Miami’s marathon — an event that draws more than 25,000 participants a year.

The chamber “could put more into it than what we have been able to do,” she said, agreeing with Grady that local connections are essential. “Having a local team could provide the local heart to grow it to its full potential.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

NEW: West Palm man shot multiple times on day he was accused of sex assault
NEW: West Palm man shot multiple times on day he was accused of sex assault

A 19-year-old man was shot multiple times on the day he was accused of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman, according to an arrest report. Frederick Alexander Tolbert of West Palm Beach is facing two counts of sexual assault and remains hospitalized, according to court records. The victim told a Palm Beach County sheriff’s detective...
Old cannon on the island pointed at West Palm — for attack or adornment?
Old cannon on the island pointed at West Palm — for attack or adornment?

Relations between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach are not always easy. Last year when West Palm pushed to build an office tower next to the bridge Palm Beachers rely upon to get to and from the island, verbal salvos were exchanged across city commission chamber lines. But many years ago there was a time when the town aimed actual artillery at the city...
Man likely injured back hanging TV bought with stolen credit card, Delray police say
Man likely injured back hanging TV bought with stolen credit card, Delray police say

Delray Beach police, a report says, found Steven Shapiro in a Fort Lauderdale rehab center. He said he was recovering from back surgery. When detectives played surveillance-camera video showing the Illinois native walking through area stores clad in a Chicago Cubs T-shirt, he admitted he’d bought $1,823 worth of items using credit cards he&rsquo...
What would Prince want? Two years later, his estate is a mess and his legacy unclear
What would Prince want? Two years later, his estate is a mess and his legacy unclear

CHANHASSEN, Minnesota — Near Influence Hallway, past Paisley Park's platinum album-lined entry, our tour group is led to Prince's inner sanctum, a two-story atrium painted sky blue with clouds — his take on heaven. A trio of doves flutter in an ornate cage. They don't cry. They coo. The late artist's residence and recording complex sprawls...
NEW: Overdose numbers continue to dwindle in Delray Beach
NEW: Overdose numbers continue to dwindle in Delray Beach

DELRAY BEACH — Overdoses are on the decline in Delray Beach, continuing a trend that started last year. The latest data collected by the Delray Beach Police Department shows there were fewer citywide drug overdoses in March than that time frame last year and in 2016, when there was a record-breaking number of reported overdoses. As...
More Stories