Running: What to do if your race is canceled

Posted: October 28, 2013

Karen Bondi of Newtown was all set to run the Jersey Shore Half Marathon on Oct. 6 when she got a rude surprise: an e-mail telling her the race had been canceled.

"I totally forgot that it was being held in a government-run park," she said.

That park was Gateway National Park in Sandy Hook, N.J. And since it's a federal park that was closed during the federal government shutdown, the race organizers didn't have any options: They were forced to shut down the race, too.

A canceled race can clutch at a runner's well-trained heart - and they're not that uncommon. Races are canceled or shut down while in progress for a lot of reasons, including hurricanes (2012 New York City Marathon, 2011 Wild Half Marathon); extreme heat (2007 Chicago Marathon); miscommunication (2013 Liberty Run Marathon); tragedy (2013 Boston Marathon); and, as we saw this year, a government shutdown, which closed races that included federal parks - races like the Jersey Shore Half Marathon.

Whether or not you get your money back depends on the race - many offer refunds or allow you to enter next year's race for free.

But one race being canceled doesn't mean all your training is for nothing, says Brendan Cournane, a running coach who also works with major charity running teams, like Ronald McDonald's House Charities, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the American Lung Association. There are thousands of marathons and half-marathons a year, and in this area you can't look at a calendar without hitting at least a half-marathon every weekend.

How you reboot for another race depends on your goals, and if you started running a race that was nixed midway.

If your goal is to complete the race and to experience running that distance, then you should have no problem running a race on a later date, Cournane said.

"Delaying it a week or two weeks won't affect you that much," he said, suggesting that these runners repeat the last week or two of a taper. It stinks if you were running that specific race to raise money or to run in your hometown, but you can easily switch to another location without taking that big a hit to your goals.

If your goal is to run a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon, or to set a PR you trained hard for, then you must be pickier in which later race you chose. Your best bet is to either find a race two to three weeks later that has the same terrain you're prepared for (i.e. if you were training for Chicago, which is flat, you wouldn't want to pick a hilly race).

What if you're in a race that is suddenly canceled midcourse? Your options for trying again depend on how far you made it into that race. If you didn't get past 15 miles, Cournane said, or even 18, then you can try again in four to six weeks.

But if you made it past 18, and you still want a shot at setting a PR in another race, you'll need more time to recover. Cournane recommends not trying again for eight to 12 weeks - the farther into the race you went, the longer you should give your body time to repair itself. (This is why some elites and pros drop out of races at 15 miles - if they know they aren't running well that day, they want a chance at trying again in another race soon.)


Racing Schedule

Next Sunday

Brandywine Battlefield 5K, Brandywine Battlefield Park, 1491 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford. Start: 8:30 a.m., fee: $20.

13th Annual Philadelphia City 6 5K

9 a.m. Starts at 33d and Market Streets (Drexel Recreation Center). $20 pre-reg. Benefits Coaches vs. Cancer. Many of the City Six basketball coaches will be there, including Bruiser Flint and Fran Dunphy.

Nov. 3

Run the Bridge 10K run, 2-mile walk. At the Ben Franklin Bridge, Camden side, 8:30 a.m. Fees: 10K: $45, registration closes when cap of 4,500 is reached. No 10K race-day registration. Walk starts at 8:35 a.m, fee: $25. Walk is free for children 10 and under but must be registered and accompanied by an adult. Walk caps at 1,000. There is no in-person registration at running stores. Youth event starts at 8:45 a.m. at Campbell's Field, fee: $10.

Runners Chai 5K. Tyler State Park Art Center, 10 Stable Mill Rd., Richboro. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m., race at 9.

Free to Breathe Philadelphia, Lung Cancer 5K run/walk & 1-mile walk. Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park, Registration: 7 a.m., Run: 8:30. Fee: Event day: $35/$15. More information:

Lax Life 5k, 1 mile walk. 5k starts at 10, registration at 9. Timothy's Restaurant, 929 S. High St., West Chester.

$20 pre-registration, $25 walk-up; $15 students.

Nov. 9

Miles for Medals, 5k and 1 mile Fun Run, Rowan University Rec Center. 11 a.m. Benefits Special Olympics. Fee: $15 before Nov. 4, then $20. Contact

Puma 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk. Willow Dale Elementary School, 720 E. Norristown Rd., Warminster. Mile Fun Run begins at 9, 5K begins at 9:30. Registration at 7:30. Fee: 1 mile $5 ($10 race day) 5K $10($15 race day) for those 18 and older. Under 18, 5K is $5 ($10 race day).

Y12K, Fred 5k. Fairmount Park, 9 a.m., also 3K family walk/run, and Y Kids Family Fit Zone. Fred 5K honors Fred Rogers' lifelong commitment to the welfare of children. Philadelphia Museum of Art to Falls Bridge and back. Supports WHYY's programming and community outreach.

Nov. 10

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation's Lemon Run 5K, Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park. 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Fees: $35 for 5K, start at 8:30 a.m.; $25 for 5K walker (not timed), $15 for 100-meter Kids' Dash (10 and under, not timed), starts at 8 a.m.

Veterans First 5k run/1 mile walk. Race begins at 1 p.m. at Mas Mexicali Cantina; Walnut and Market Sts.; West Chester. Registration noon day of race. Online registration at $20 fee for pre-registration; $25 day of race. Proceeds benefit Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House.

Nov. 15-16

Health&Fitness Expo. Convention Center, Hallway F, free, open to public and includes numerous activities, vendors and seminars. Friday: noon-9 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Nov. 16

Marlton Lakes Fall 5K/2 Mile, Marlton, 9 a.m. start, $15 preregister, $20 post.

Rothman Institute 8K, 7:30 a.m. 22d Street&Benjamin Franklin Parkway, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Kids Fun Run onsite registration begins at 9 a.m., races begin at 10:30 a.m.

Nov. 17

Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon. Wheelchair and handcycle competitions begin at 6:57 a.m.; Runners begin at 7. 22d Street&Benjamin Franklin Parkway, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.



E-mail date, name of race, site, time and fee, plus registration information, to sports editor John Quinn at Put Running calendar in re: field.

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