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'Grapes of Rock' half-marathon canceled

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 6:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 6:14 p.m.

The inaugural Grapes of Rock half-marathon and concert planned for June 8 in northern Sonoma County has been canceled by organizers, who said it was unrelated to the bombing at the Boston Marathon this week.

The 13.1-mile footrace, which was set to start in Healdsburg and end at Lake Sonoma, featured a concert at the finish line headlined by Brett Michaels, former frontman for the glam rock band Poison.

The event was billed as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army.

In an announcement posted on the event website, organizers cited "logistical and economical obstacles that have ultimately proven to be impassable."

"Our plan was ambitious: to bring 5,000 eager runners, friends and family into an idyllic wine country landscape, give them the course of their lives, and reward them with an epic wine festival and rock concert, deep in the middle of nowhere," said the statement on www.grapesofrock.com.

The event was being put on by Project Sport, a San Francisco-based sports marketing and event management company.

Runners who had registered were notified by email Wednesday of the cancellation and told their registration fees already had been refunded, but it could take five to seven days to show up in their accounts.

Healdsburg and Sonoma County officials said Project Sport had not obtained the necessary approvals and permits, or contracts with law enforcement agencies to help with traffic, parking and race control.

After attempts to host the event at area wineries fell through, the race was supposed to start at the north end of Healdsburg, with parking for 2,500 to 3,000 vehicles at the old RJW lumber site, at Healdsburg Avenue and Passalacqua Road.

Runners would head out to Alexander and Dry Creek valleys before ending up near the base of Warm Springs Dam for the concert and after-race party with wine tasting and food.

Because of the limited parking near the dam, more than two dozen buses were going to be used to shuttle runners and others back and forth to Healdsburg.

Ryan Chamberlain, Project Sport's vice president of the event, said in an email it was hard to point to one cause of the demise, but "our biggest obstacle was finding a location where everything could be in one place: the parking/transit, the starting line, the finish line and the concert/festival."

Once they had to separate those functions, "each came with its own set of issues, permits, insurance factors, transit considerations, parking and on and on," he stated.

"The overall collection of all the moving parts simply wasn't coming together," he said, adding that permitting authorities were cooperative.

He declined to say how many runners had registered other than to say "we were in shape enough to produce a great race normally . . . but not enough to overcome costs for this event."

You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or clark.mason@pressdemocrat.com.

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