The annual Rhody Run 12k race has been canceled for the first time in its almost 42-year history. Race director Jenni Little said the decision was made by the Port Townsend Marathon Association on March 13 after monitoring how other races across the country were responding to the burgeoning health crisis.
The fate of the Rhododendron Festival, which is not associated with the Rhody Run or the Port Townsend Marathon Association, has yet to be determined, festival association president Lori Morris said.
The Rhododendron Festival is scheduled to take place in the second full week in May, but Morris said they will not make a decision to cancel until the end of April.
“We’re going ahead right now as if we’re going to have it,” Morris said.
Certain events like the Float Reveal Silent Auction, which will now take place April 25, have been forced to reschedule.
Morris said the newly crowned Rhody Royalty are devastated as the Daffodil Festival in Puyallup and the Irrigation Festival in Sequim, where they were supposed to make their first regional appearances, have been canceled.
The Rhododendron Festival Carnival is still scheduled to take place at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in May.
Funtastic, the carnival operator, is still on board to facilitate the event unless the state requires they cancel; the festival association has until May 1 to make that decision.
Morris said if the festival must be pushed back later into the summer, it will be hard to find a date that does not conflict with another local or regional event.
There’s also the question of if schools are still closed or if it has to reschedule for a time when school is out for the summer, and how to facilitate the middle and high school bands that march in the Grand Parade.
“I’m hoping everything is going to be OK by then, and we can use it as a reason to celebrate,” Morris said. “We will do what’s best for the community, but it’s going to be a hard decision either way.”
Little said part of the reason the Rhody Run 12k Race was canceled two months ahead of the date was because there was a window in which they could cancel the order of roughly 2,000 participant T-shirts and issue refunds to people who had already registered, unlike similar races that have been forced to cancel.
The Port Townsend Marathon Association was able to rely on a rainy day fund they had been hanging onto “in case of disaster” to help make that happen, Little said.
Canceling now also will give Jefferson Healthcare, the title sponsor of the event, the opportunity to use the resources they would have contributed to the race on something else, Little said.