After nearly 40 years, this weekend could be the last for a massive run in Banff.
Melissa’s Road Race sees 4,500 people walk or run through Banff National Park’s breathtaking scenery. The 21-kilometre event is one of the largest in Alberta.
“It’s a tremendous course, it’s bar none one of the best run races in the country,” said organizer Bunny Julius.
Julius said the idea for Melissa’s Road Race was sparked during lean times in Banff’s tourism industry. The plan was to create an event that would see more people come to the town after the summer season was over.
“It can bring up to 20,000 people in one weekend,” Julius said. “When one event can fill every hotel room in the Bow Valley, it’s a win-win for everybody.”
But Julius said recent changes and restrictions by the Town of Banff and Parks Canada have created major headaches.
“We have race meetings every single year afterwards, generally we’ve done everything right, but still we have to jump through more hoops,” said Julius.
“It’s terrible actually, we put a lot into this, a lot into the town. It wasn’t taken lightly, it was an extremely difficult decision to make.”
But the decision comes as a surprise to Town officials who say they haven’t been formally notified.
Diana Waltmann, the manager of communications and marketing for the Town of Banff, confirmed a new $338 special events licence was introduced in 2016 and officials had asked race organizers to change the last leg of the route.
“We apply the same standards and regulations to any event that comes in, including the events we ourselves produce,” said Waltmann.
Parks Canada also issued a statement on Tuesday which reads in part:
“All events are required to submit an event proposal that outlines how waste, traffic and potential emergencies will be managed. Parks Canada has worked with Melissa’s Road Race successfully for more than 30 years and wishes them well.”
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