Local running enthusiasts gear-up for a possible marathon returning to the Four States area. The Mother Road Marathon was organized in 2010. The route started in Oklahoma, went through the corner of Kansas, and ended in Joplin. But four races later, in 2013, city officials say a rift with an outside marathon promoter put an indefinite stop on the event. The number of participants was going down.
Tonight, some people in the marathon-organizing business will ask Joplin's City Council for permission to use the Mother Road Marathon name again.
Erik Bartlett, owner of the Run Around running equipment store in Joplin, says there could be more running around.
"The running industry itself, over the last year, has taken kind of a dip, just because the people who have been running have been running for a couple of years, and they're wanting to try something new," says Bartlett.
Enter-in plans for the rebirth of Joplin's Mother Road Marathon.
"It pulls all of our surrounding communities back to life, as well," says Patrick Tuttle, head of Joplin's Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Going through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri, the marathon follows Route 66. But the last Mother Road run was in 2013, three years after the whole event was organized, because of a rift with an outside promoter.
"Some of the things he did, for example, all the registration money ended up in Florida," says Tuttle.
So a different promoter and organizer, Joplin-based Twelve One Race Management, wants to use the Mother Road Marathon name, owned by the City of Joplin, for a similar race.
"The part that we really couldn't fulfill was getting the number of runners there," says Tuttle.
Bartlett says there are challenges to organizing a race; it by no means is a walk in the park.
"It has to have a good reputation," says Bartlett.
The owner of Twelve One, Tom Rogers, told us by phone that he hopes to have two-thousand runners for the first year of the run, then have 40-percent growth the next year.
"You have to have good word of mouth," says Bartlett. "That's the best way to grow a run, is word of mouth."
Joplin's CVB would handle marketing for the marathon, while Twelve One would take care of organizing the run. Money from the CVB would come from Joplin's lodging tax, not from the city's general revenue fund. Tuttle says the CVB would handle about $10,000 worth of marketing the first year.
"The Convention and Visitors Bureau is not an event management company. We market Joplin, 70 miles or greater away from here. That's our focus, is to bring people to Joplin, not manage events," says Tuttle.
The first revamped Mother Road Marathon would be on October first of 2017, if all goes well for Twelve One. Sticking with the proposed plan, Bartlett would also get some extra business.
"It really is a big positive for us," says Bartlett.
Tom Rogers says he has about 40 events throughout the region in his company's portfolio. Rogers also says he expects to secure at least $150,000 to put on the Mother Road Marathon, based on two-thousand runners.
Rogers wants to make the marathon event a three-day experience for people. He says he's in talks to move Joplin's Zerkapalooza music festival to coincide with the Mother Road Marathon.
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