Virgin fitness festival among events called off.
Virgin on Wednesday night canceled its inaugural San Francisco fitness festival, including the Twin Peaks Mile and half marathon, scheduled for this weekend, telling racers and volunteers that concerns about air quality amid ongoing wildfires played a role in its decision.
Other recreational running and cycling events planned for the weekend, including Tough Mudder NorCal and the Coyote Ridge Trail Run, have also been canceled. Organizers for races later in October plan to monitor fire conditions and air quality before deciding on events, according to their websites.
Virgin’s half marathon in San Francisco, held by Virgin Sport, the company’s division that organizes athletic events, was scheduled to take place Sunday and take crowds of runners through or past the city’s iconic sights, including the Painted Ladies, Presidio and Golden Gate Park. The festival also included a mile-long race up iconic Twin Peaks on Saturday.
Mary Wittenberg, Virgin Sport’s CEO, said in a note to volunteers that the company “did not make this decision lightly, but it was the right call given the ongoing public health air-quality issues associated with the Napa and Sonoma wildfires.”
The fires have caused the deaths of at least 29 people and destroyed 3,500 homes and businesses.
“While the cancellation is primarily linked to the health and safety of all of you and our athletes, the decision also means that Bay Area first responders and resources are now free to focus on those most in need,” Wittenberg said in her note, which was obtained by The Chronicle. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the thousands of people impacted in these deadly fires.”
Virgin Sport said paid participants “will receive a full refund and we will be sharing an update on the process in the coming weeks.”
Virgin Sport also will donate $25,000 to the Red Cross’ Northern California coastal region chapter, and its partner, shoe seller ASICS America, will donate another $25,000.
The cancellation of the Tough Mudder obstacle races scheduled for this weekend in the North Bay was announced on the Tough Mudder website. No refund or rescheduling information is listed.
Coastal Trail Run’s Coyote Ridge race at Muir Beach in Marin County, which would have included five races ranging from seven miles to 50 kilometers Saturday, was also called off per its website.
Among community events affected: An annual run in Tiburon to benefit the Reed Union School District, scheduled for Friday, has been postponed. The Ashland Cherryfest FamFest 5K scheduled for Saturday in San Leandro has been moved to Nov. 18.
Some runs were still on as of Thursday afternoon, including Saturday’s Pace for Peace 10K/5K in Livermore. Organizer Lisa Johnston said via email that the air quality remained within an acceptable range and a decision would be be made Friday.
The Pride Run and Walk planned for Oakland’s Lake Merritt on Friday will be held, with organizers allowing individuals to decide whether to participate.
Organizers of the Napa Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K said on their website that they have not canceled the Oct. 21 events yet, because the location had not been affected directly by the fires, but race director Dave Horning said by phone that he doubts the races will go on and expects to let the 300 participants know for sure by Friday.
Several cycling events planning for this weekend, including the Ride for Biketoberfest in Marin County, have been canceled.
The Healdsburg Wine Country half marathon and 5K is scheduled for Oct. 28. Chronicle staff writer Henry Schulman contributed to this report.
Sir Richard Branson rides an exercise bike in San Francisco in May as he announces the inaugural Virgin Sport festival. The event has been canceled because of poor air quality.