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Organizer scraps Nov. 23 St. Pete half marathon and 5K

Published Sep. 14, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — The company that canceled this year's edition of the Rock 'n' Roll half marathon in St. Petersburg has scrubbed another event.

The starting gun will not sound for the Women's Running Half Marathon & 5K slated for Nov. 23 in downtown St. Petersburg. In a letter posted on its website, California-based Competitor Group Inc. said the event has been "postponed until further notice."

"As a runner myself, I know how this news must feel," Jessie Sebor, vice president of Women's Running magazine, said in the letter.

Sebor said the company made the decision "to refocus all of our resources and attention to building a completely new and unique series for 2015."

"We hope you will continue to follow along our journey as we will be working hard to create a world class event series, first of its kind," she wrote. "The news is tough now, but I promise when we return our events will be amazing."

Those who registered and paid the entry fee have three options: get a full refund; transfer by Sept. 21 to the Nashville Half Marathon or 5K on Sept. 27; or transfer to any Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series event. Those who have not responded by Sept. 30 will automatically receive the refund, to be processed by Oct. 10.

Dan Cruz, public relations director for Competitor Group, declined to comment Saturday.

The cancellation will thwart the plans of at least some out-of-town entrants like Rae Craven of Pittsburgh, who posted her displeasure on the Women's Running Facebook page.

"What about those of us who have flights, hotel room and time off???!!!" Craven wrote. "Really??!!!"

"I'm just disappointed," the 38-year-old tanning salon owner said in an interview Saturday. The former Spring Hill resident planned to run the event with a friend in Clearwater.

The scrapped race marks another stumble for the company that bought Women's Running, the Lady Speed Stick Half Marathon series and womensrunning.com in 2012 from founder Dawna Stone of St. Petersburg. Stone started the women's event three years earlier.

Competitor Group had already announced plans for a Rock 'n' Roll half marathon in downtown St. Petersburg each February. Musicians play along the race route, pumping up runners and spectators alike. By then, the company was running the race in more than two dozen other cities.

The Pinellas County Tourist Development Council signed a contract to invest $100,000 a year in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Flo Rida performed near the race's finish line along the waterfront in 2012, and Sean Kingston did in 2013.

About 7,000 runners finished the first year, far below the estimated 12,000 to 15,000 race promoters projected. Last year, about 6,500 participants completed the course.

Last September, Competitor Group announced it was canceling the 2014 Rock 'n' Roll event due to the low participation, Organizers said they wanted to focus on resources on the Women's Running half marathon and the TriRock triathlon in Clearwater.

The news of the latest cancellation also disappointed locals like Karen Beasley of St. Petersburg.

Beasley, 50, ran in the Rock 'n' Roll event and the women's half marathon before and after Competitor Group took ownership. She enjoyed bonding with other women and relished the route that took runners on to the Pier, north along the waterfront to Coffee Pot Bayou and out to Tropicana Field before returning to Albert Whitted Park.

"I'm just kind of saddened by it because I always saw it as a local event," she said. "It just felt like a hometown race."

Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

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