Columbia Crossing canceled

Runners and walkers of the Great Columbia Crossing enjoy the final downhill stretch of the 10K event in 2013.

Calling it an “incredibly difficult decision,” the Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday that it will not reschedule the 35th annual Great Columbia Crossing, which was postponed in October because of stormy weather.

This marks the first time that the race has been called off.

About 2,800 people had registered to participate in the 10K trek over the Astoria Bridge.

Originally scheduled for Oct. 16, the chamber chose to postpone the event when weather forecasts predicted hurricane-force winds for the North Coast. It was the first time a postponement had ever happened.

Apart from safety considerations, many runners and volunteers were expected not to show up. The chamber announced it would reschedule the crossing for a later date.

However, “after much consideration, we did not feel that rescheduling the event was feasible,” Event Coordinator Kelsey Balensifer said in a release.

The chamber, she wrote, coordinates with about 60 agencies, contractors, suppliers and nonprofits to schedule the Great Columbia Crossing.

“Getting everyone on the same page in an abbreviated time period is something that was nearly impossible,” she said in an interview.

The chamber also relies on the nearly 100 volunteers who help with event preparation and in various roles on race day, she said.

In addition, much of the staff time is already devoted to organizing three other annual festivals and events the chamber will host in early 2017, she wrote.

“The world keeps turning,” she said.

Many of the expenses had already been paid.

Balensifer said it is important for the chamber to honor their donations to the local nonprofits that were slated to assist the organization on race day. The chamber has paid them in full.

“We host this event to benefit our community, and this is just one way we can help offset the burden of this year’s cancellation,” she wrote.

Though the chamber is not obligated to issue refunds, the participants who had registered will be mailed a $20 check to the address on file. Many participants “took time off work and incurred travel and/or lodging expenses to take part in our event, on top of your registration fees,” she wrote.

In addition, the participants who were unable to pick up their packet materials — including T-shirts — and still want to claim them can fill out a form, available on the chamber website, by Dec. 31. Any items unclaimed after that date will be recycled, reused or resold.

The chamber will cover the mailing costs but has also provided an option to donate via PayPal to cover these costs.

“Thank you for your patience during the past couple weeks while we deliberated, discussed and evaluated our options. We also ask for your continued patience as we mail out checks, packets and shirts, which will take time,” Balensifer wrote. “We are grateful for the support and understanding that many of you have shown us.”

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