Like so many other sporting events in 2020, the first-ever Bear Paw Marathon is over before it ever started.
Wednesday, the Havre Chamber of Commerce announced through a press release that the 2020 Bear Paw Marathon, set to be run on June 6, was being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The health and safety of our community is our number one priority right now,” a statement in the press release said.
The Bear Paw Marathon was announced last year, and was going to be an exciting new event to come to Havre.
“Runners will enjoy the thrill of running through the beautiful Bear Paw Mountains. The Bear Paws (as the locals call them) were named for the unique formation of the island mountains, which resemble a bear’s outstretched paw. In the foothills of the mountains are the pristine lakes and rolling hills of Beaver Creek Park, the largest county park in the nation. This unique race is a must for all marathoners. There are no bears in the Bear Paw Mountains — but you’ll run like there are,” the marathon’s website said.
The Bear Paw Marathon event was set to feature a full marathon, a half marathon and one-mile races for both adults and youths.
Prior to the cancellation of the event, 190 runners had signed up for the event, including 33 from outside of Montana.
“The community excitement for this new event has been unbelievable. The Chamber has had an outpouring of support from community members as well as city, county and state officials helping to work through this event on everything from marketing to safety plan to logistics. This event would not happen without the great support from everyone involved,” another statement from the Chamber press release said.
The Chamber will be refunding sponsorships already paid to the marathon in the coming weeks. People are asked to reach out to the Chamber as soon as possible if they would like the Chamber to roll over their sponsorship to the following year.
The Chamber will also be refunding race entry fees in the coming weeks. People who would like to have their entry fee rolled over to next year are asked to notify the Chamber as soon as possible. Refunds will be processed after May 1 for both sponsorships and runners. People can reach out to the Chamber by emailing [email protected] or calling 265-4383.
“We would also like to thank the Montana Department of Commerce for awarding the Chamber a tourism grant to help with the seed money to take on a large endeavor like a marathon,” the Chamber said in the press release.
Other large road races on Montana are facing similar decisions. The annual Governor’s Cup Road Race in Helena, scheduled for June 12-13, is expected to make a decision today, while the annual Missoula Marathon had suspended all registration until May, with a decision of the fate of the marathon coming after May 7. The Missoula Marathon is slated for June 28.
The 41st annual Ice Break Road Race, the event that takes place in April in Great Falls, was moved to Oct. 4.
As for the future of the Bear Paw Marathon, the Chamber said it hopes to be able to host the first-ever event in 2021.
Officials said they will be re-evaluating conditions this fall on the potential for a 2021 Bear Paw Marathon. The Chamber has applied for another tourism grant through the Department of Commerce in hopes for the seed money to host a Marathon next year. Announcements will be made on the Chamber Facebook page as well as http://www.bearpawmarathon.com this fall.
“Once again, the Chamber would like to thank everyone who has helped with the marathon so far and are looking forward to re-evaluating in the coming months. We hope everyone stays healthy and safe,” the release said.