Founder of Birmingham Mercedes Marathon reveals why the event is leaving the city, what could be next for the event
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - After more than two decades, the Birmingham Mercedes Marathon’s founder announced Monday that the race had run its course.
Valerie Cuddy, Mercedes Marathon Organizer, said, “I think a lot of things have gone on with many resources involved with the event. A lot of people who have aged out, and retired were involved in the past. A lot of sponsors have moved on or have changed ownership. There have been all kinds of things.”
The final race weekend in Birmingham will be Feb. 10-12, 2023.
Cuddy said she was no longer able to support the event financially.
“I put a lot of my money into it, my store’s money into it,” she explained.
The news of the race ending hit hard for runners like a longtime participant and running coach Alex Morrow, owner of Resolute Running Training Center.
“When you cross the finish line it’ll change your life,” Morrow said. “It lets you know that you can do anything.”
Morrow’s medals hang on the wall in his office with pride. He said it’s about being a part of something great.
“For Mercedes, that has always been one of the biggest goals. It was the Olympic trials race back in the day. It has had so many great stories come out of it. And it supports the community in so many ways,” Morrow explained.
One of the major benefactors, The Bell Center. Cuddy said the race raised more than $3 million over the years. Cuddy vowed to continue to support the charity and others.
As for if the marathon would move to a nearby city, Hoover Councilmember, John Lyda, tweeted his support of moving the race there.
“What an amazing job the #RunMercedes team has done over the past 22 years. Alabama’s premier road race must continue and I know the perfect home for it...@CityofHoover! Let’s make the move to Hoover a reality and build on a great foundation.”
Cuddy remained mum on whether the race would move to another city.
“We’re considering several things,” she said.
Morrow said running a marathon in Birmingham is a highly sought-after accomplishment due to the rich history of the city, but he ultimately wanted to see the marathon thrive, no matter the location.
“You want to go with the cities that are very supportive of the event and willing to pitch in a little bit, and get some brakes on permitting, or police fees. If Hoover is that city, fantastic,” Morrow said.
WBRC also spoke with Birmingham City Councilor, Hunter Williams, chair of the economics and tourism committee, he said the city was sad to see the Birmingham Mercedes Marathon end, but was not closing the door on possibly hosting the event in the future, or replacing it with a similar event.
Cuddy said she was done organizing the event and hoped new leaders step in to carry the tradition forward.
Registration for the final marathon is now open.
Cuddy said they want to make the final race the biggest yet.
If you’re thinking about joining in but have never run a race before, Morrow said you still have time as it takes 12 weeks to properly train for the 5K portion of the event.
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