Updated: 11:30 a.m.
Organizers have canceled Sunday’s Twin Cities Marathon and TC 10 Mile races due to record-setting warmth in the forecast.
In emails sent to thousands of race participants and the media just after 5:30 a.m. Sunday, less than two hours before the first runners were set to hit the course, race officials said the predicted temperatures “do not allow a safe event for runners, supporters and volunteers.”
“It was a very difficult decision. We are sad for them,” race spokesperson Charlie Mahler told MPR News on Sunday morning. “We did everything we could to put on the race, but safety has always been our No. 1 priority. And we made the decision we needed to make for the safety of our runners and the whole community.”
The TC 10 Mile was scheduled to start in downtown Minneapolis at 7 a.m. Sunday, with the Twin Cities Marathon set to start at 8 a.m. Organizers had been warning for days about the forecast of unseasonable warmth, urging runners to consider slowing their pace amid predicted “red flag” conditions.
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But Sunday morning’s email said the forecast changed to “black flag” conditions — “extreme and dangerous” weather for runners — and forced the cancellation.
“I was worried because of the heat. They've been sending update emails, so I was really worried but they sent the email and I was deflated for sure,” said Jordyn Broten of Minneapolis.
The temperature at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was 71 degrees as of 6 a.m. Sunday, with a dew point of 59. Record-setting highs of near 90 degrees were expected later Sunday.
As news of the cancellation spread, race officials urged people to not try running the courses on their own.
“Conditions are black flag. And if they try to do that now, there’s no support on the course,” Mahler said. “It would even be a more dangerous way to run the race than if we’d have tried to host the event in conditions that just aren’t safe for running a marathon.”
“Extreme heat conditions can tax both runners and our emergency medical response systems. We ask the entire running community to come together for the safety of everyone involved,” race officials said in their Sunday morning email.
Combined, about 20,000 people were expected to run either the TC 10 Mile or the full 26.2-mile marathon on Sunday, joined by thousands more volunteers and spectators.
In their email to runners, race officials said people who had signed up for the race should “expect an update about possible credit for the canceled event by end of day Thursday, October 5.”
Sunday’s forecast of temperatures near 90 degrees follows a record-setting high of 88 degrees at the Twin Cities airport on Saturday. The average high this time of year in the metro area is about 67 degrees.
Yet many runners decided to make the best of the situation by running any specific distance they chose during after the race was canceled.
The race course was filled with runners, many running the course in reverse, according to Erik Stromstad, MPR’s director of broadcast production and operations.
“Spectators were still out cheering, and many offered their own aid stations handing out water form backpacks or coolers,” Stromstad said. “Summit Ave in Saint Paul felt similar to a traditional race day with DJs playing music, kids jumping in bounce houses, and residents cheering on runners.”
Stromstad said cars were still yielding to the runners along the path, despite the lack of traffic control.
Broten was among them, running the 10 mile.
“A friend of mine said ‘we're still going,’” she said. “So I said, ‘all right, we're going down to the downtown Minneapolis to start’ and got out there and just ran it and it was beautiful, had support with me along the course. So it's hot but we did it.”
Some of the spectators stood along mile 20 of the marathon route at East River Parkway and Cecil Street in Minneapolis.
“Thousands of runners probably woke up to a very disappointing text … but we're still out here and I'm very pleased to see some people are still running and hopefully taking a good pace and taking care of their bodies,” said Cristina Santos, who is a runner herself.
MPR News reporter Emily Bright contributed to this story.