Money woes have forced organisers behind one of Marlborough’s most famous races to pull the plug, with it’s long term future now uncertain.
The Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon has been cancelled for next year with promoters blaming the Covid-19 crisis for the change of heart.
Entrants will be refunded $30 from the average ticket of $99 as funds have already been spent preparing for this year’s race.
It has been an agonising decision to make, say co-ordinators Chris Shaw and Anna Polson who revealed refunding the entire fee would force the event into bankruptcy.
The pair have event insurance but pandemics are specified in the policy as non-payment events.
“We’ve put a lot of love and dedication into getting the race where it is today, and personally we’re devastated that our efforts have come to this. There have been some emails accusing us of being greedy and that makes me feel personally hurt.
“We’ve tried to be a generous member of the community and set out to give value back to the community. We haven’t just changed overnight.”
“We were hoping the event could take place in May 2021, but that’s not guaranteed by any means with the future of mass gatherings and events being so uncertain. We’re doing a good job at erradicating it [Covid-19] but,looking forward, we couldn’t say with any degree of certainty that we can hold it next year and to start preparing would be irresponsible, Chris says.
The event was originally postponed just days before lockdown officially begun.
All entries were transferred to a rescheduled race in May 2021 but that has now been shelved.
“We can’t be certain that the Vineyard Half planned for May 2021 will be able to go ahead either, so we will soon begin processing refunds to everyone who has entered this year’s event.
“We have agonised over the best process to refund and looked at the range of responses from other events. We’re uncomfortable with the ‘refund nothing’ model, and ‘refund everything’ would simply bankrupt us; meaning you get nothing, and the Vineyard Half no longer exists,” Chris says.
All merchandise will be completely refunded, and organisers will donate any refunds not taken to race charity Bowel Cancer NZ.
The 14-year-old event has attracted thousands of people to the region and is a crucial way for Bowel Cancer NZ to raise funds.
Chris says he knows the lockdown has had an affect on the whole community.
“This has been an incredibly stressful and difficult time for us.
“We know everyone out there will be affected by this pandemic, so we hope you’ll understand how and why we’ve had to make this difficult decision.”