(Memphis) For the first time ever, St. Jude race officials have canceled the race because of weather conditions.
People packed a ballroom at the Cook Convention Center to thank 14,000 runners, or St. Jude Heroes, who raised $8.2 million.
It was a celebratory dinner before Saturday's big run, but it came with the bad news the race had been canceled.
Organizers spoke with the officials from the City of Memphis, Office of Emergency Management, and Memphis Police Department before making the decision.
"Safety needs to be our number one priority," St. Jude CEO Richard Shadyac, Jr., said.
Shadyac said he got an eye-opener when he toured the course.
"The course definitely gave me a lot to think about," he said. "There was a tree down in Overton Park. I went out to AutoZone Park and it was sleet and ice in the park."
He added, "We were having difficulty getting volunteers. Thirty percent of our volunteers had cancelled. Fifteen percent of our medical staff weren't going to be able to make it."
For the thousands who had prepared and even traveled a long distance, it wasn't the finish they had planned.
"It's got to be a tough decision to make. But I think it's the right decision. You don't want runners or spectators getting hurt," one runner said.
"I really wanted to run it and raise money for St. Jude, but we still raise money for them," another said.
Registered runners may choose from the following options:
- St. Jude will apply their registration to one of these upcoming events: P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and Half-Marathon (Jan. 19, 2014), Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon and Half-Marathon (Feb. 2, 2014), or the St. Jude Country Music Marathon and Half-Marathon (April 26, 2014). NOTE: St. Jude will not cover any expenses other than the application of the registration fee, subject to race availability.
- Receive a refund of your registration fee for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend or allow your registration fee to be donated to St. Jude.
2013 registered runners will also be the first to be able to sign up for the 2014 marathon. The window for this special registration will be announced later.
St. Jude will reach out to 2013 runners with more details soon.
"We know it was for a good cause. We will use our training for another half. I look forward to a good night in Memphis," said one runner.
Other runners say they will still go out Saturday, on their own, to complete the race anyway. They say they trained for it, so they plan to finish it.
CEO Richard Shadyac, Jr., said in a statement:
"We want to express our deepest thanks to all of the participants, volunteers and spectators who have long trained, worked and traveled to support the patients and families of St. Jude through this amazing annual event. We hope everyone will come back to support the 2014 St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend. The money raised at events like the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend are critical to our ability treat kids with cancer and ensure no family ever pays St. Jude for anything."