Santa Clarita discontinues marathon

Carlos Larios, winner of the Santa Clarita Half Marathon, passes the finish line with a finish time of 1:14, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. Signal file photo

It’s the end of the run for the Santa Clarita Marathon.  

City of Santa Clarita officials released a prepared statement Friday morning announcing that the annual marathon is being discontinued after a quarter-century due to economic factors. 

“The city of Santa Clarita regretfully announces that after 25 years – and 24 editions of the event – the tough decision has been reached to discontinue the Santa Clarita Marathon,” the statement said. “Though the Santa Clarita Marathon was last staged prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, the decision to discontinue the event is based on economic factors.” 

Carrie Lujan, spokeswoman for the city of Santa Clarita, said the marathon’s participation numbers peaked in 2016 with 4,827 runners. However, by 2019 the number of runners dropped over 45% to 2,625. 

After the 2019 Santa Clarita Marathon, which was held in November and saw a 13.8% decrease in the number of registered participants, city staff identified 99 similar races in California between October and December, the statement said.  

“This is significantly higher than 10 years prior when the Santa Clarita Marathon was one of a handful of events in Southern California held in the fall,” the statement said. “The increase in competition for participants, as well as the rise of less traditional running events such as mud runs, trail runs and obstacle courses, have contributed to decreased participation.” 

Mayor Laurene Weste said she laments the discontinuation but emphasized that it doesn’t mean it’s permanent, and she hopes it will return one day. Weste cited heavy competition with other marathons and the pandemic as to why the marathon was discontinued.  

“All we try to do is keep giving our citizens events they want,” said Weste. “And I love the marathon, maybe it will be back. Right now, we are still dealing with a lot of the aftermath of COVID… Hopefully everything over the next years gets back on track to the joyful level we were at, but, you know, we’re still here and we’re still working to keep our community happy.” 

Both Weste and Lujan acknowledged that the decision to discontinue the marathon was done by city staff and not the City Council.  

“It was a staff decision to discontinue the event. Through the recent assessment of the Santa Clarita Marathon, it became clear that the event is not achieving the level of success that it had in the past,” said Lujan in an email to The Signal. “One of the key philosophies of the city is to be fiscally responsible and continuously evaluate and assess our programs and events.” 

City officials said they plan to develop a new signature event to benefit the community and encourage tourism. In its heyday, the Santa Clarita Marathon was a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and drew thousands of runners each year, many of them visiting Santa Clarita to participate — bringing with them the tourism dollars of hotel stays, restaurant visits and shopping at local merchants. 

Said the city statement: “While the Santa Clarita Marathon is being discontinued, staff is in the process of developing plans for a new marquee event that will serve the local community and encourage tourism in Santa Clarita.” 

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