The Board of Directors of the Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club (SMAC) has voted to take a one-year hiatus while we look at the viability of the race.
First, SMAC currently hosts many events, including the Ron Hebert Race, the New England Green River Marathon, the Northampton 5ks, summer track workouts, Youth Track, the Green Prix Trail Series, the Summit Run, the Mount Toby Race, and the SMAC Series.
Second, since losing a major sponsor several years ago, (and despite the herculean efforts of race directors) the race has struggled to break even. The race is more expensive than other races because it requires renting an indoor space and with the cold weather, we have traditionally provided hot food. Another expense is police coverage to ensure the safety of runners. With Amherst’s growth in residential and student population in the last 30 years, the route has become busier and safety is a concern.
Third, the race is attracting fewer runners. This used to be the only Boston “warm up” race around. Now there are several. To continue the race, we’d have to reduce costs to the point that it really would no longer be the same race. In its heyday, the race would see up to 800 runners. Last year we had 174 runners, and only 19 SMAC members running the race.
And what of the Nancy Conz legacy? SMAC has also been supporting Nancy’s Run for the AACRF in July through lending gear and providing some volunteers. This race raises money for the AACRF and so seems a more fitting tribute to Nancy’s memory. The race will now be an official SMAC race, with gear, timing, and volunteers provided, as well as insurance coverage. This will let us concentrate our efforts to honor Nancy in a single club event.
All of these considerations have come together to lead us to our vote to take a break for one year so we have time to gauge support within our club for the race. This was a very difficult decision; this race has an important place in our club’s history. For those who would like to join us, we will be holding a group run on the course on the day of its traditional running on February 24 at 11:00 am. It will be a good opportunity to talk about the race.