Runners will not take their marks this October at Lompoc’s annual race that blasts runners with a cloud color because a certain burrower left it’s mark on the track at River Park.
The annual Lompoc Hospital District Foundation Colorthon, which raises up to $20,000 annually for the Lompoc Valley Medical Center, has been canceled because event organizers say the course is unsafe for athletes.
"When we surveyed the park, the conditions were such that we couldn’t do it there," Lompoc Hospital Foundation President Alice Milligan. "It looked like a third world park."
Milligan said the hundreds of gopher holes on the trail aren’t just hard on the eyes, they’re hard on the body and the risk of injury is a liability for the Foundation.
According to Milligan, the city’s decision to temporarily locate the displaced homeless population at the park was not a factor in the decision to cancel the race.
"They did tell us that they’ll be moving the homeless to a triage there at the park, but they’d be moving out by October 9, and we had no problem with that," Milligan said. "I want to applaud the city with what they’re doing with the homeless problem. They’re tackling it aggressively and that’s a good thing."
In a statement, Lompoc Community Relations Manager Samantha Scroggin did not address the park’s condition, but said it is an important part of the city’s tourism.
"River Park is home to numerous successful events each year, including several fun runs and the recent Santa Barbara Vintners Festival. It’s unfortunate the Colorthon has canceled its event this year," Scroggin said in the statement.
Milligan said the park in its current condition simply isn’t suitable for the annual Colorthon, which she said costs the city not only the $1,000 event fee the Foundation would have paid, but tourism from over 400 runners who flood the town for each race.
"(The city) had this issue at Ryan Park, where they lost the dog show, which was really popular and financially rewarding for the community and it canceled, so, I’m sure it’s a financial problem," Milligan said. "I’m hoping the city will find the funds to renovate the park and we can do it next year. We’re not going to quit."