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Pony Express Marathon through downtown, Land Park canceled after rocky 2016 debut

Running team from T. R. Smedberg Middle School in Elk Grove, Alun Wynne, center, and Steve Klein, right, finish the Pony Express marathon at the State Capital on Sunday May 1, 2016 in Sacramento, Calif.
Running team from T. R. Smedberg Middle School in Elk Grove, Alun Wynne, center, and Steve Klein, right, finish the Pony Express marathon at the State Capital on Sunday May 1, 2016 in Sacramento, Calif. The Sacramento Bee

A marathon that snarled traffic last year when it meandered through the central city and Land Park has been canceled.

Organizers posted the cancellation of the planned April 30 Pony Express marathon on the event’s website and informed runners already registered that they will receive refunds. They said they needed to cancel the event because the police department couldn’t provide enough officers to safely stage it.

“Ensuring the safety of our runners and the general public during the race was our first priority,” said the post by Robert Daly, marathon committee chairman. “Unfortunately, the necessary adjustments for this year’s event would have required an increased level of law enforcement resources that simply could not be met.”

He thanked the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento for their collaboration on the inaugural race in 2016, saying that more than $76,000 was raised last year for nonprofits.

Traffic was slowed or backed up last year in downtown Sacramento, Land Park and South Land Park as nearly 70 road segments were closed for the marathon, a charity event sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sacramento.

Residents complained on social media and through email to city leaders that they were caught unaware and struggled to navigate detours. Councilman Steve Hansen called for a review of city road-closure procedures.

The event featured 2,000 runners participating in marathon, half-marathon and 5K races that started and ended at Capitol Mall. Race results showed that 325 runners finished the 26.2-mile marathon route that meandered through West Sacramento, crossed back over the river and ventured into South Land Park, Land Park and downtown before returning to the Capitol.

Organizers said they followed city requirements for special events, including contacting all property owners within two blocks of the race course and getting route approval from a panel of city officials.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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