“The new owners (of BRC) don’t follow the sport like we do,” said Boulder Running Company co-founder Mark Plaatjes, who still oversees the three stores for Denver-based Running Specialty Group. “I had told them about the prize money being eliminated, but we didn’t know the particulars about them (CGI) cancelling the (Half Marathon) Grand Prix Series and Philadelphia’s elite competition at the last minute until Brendan explained it. That’s not right, and we wouldn’t support that.
“This is a community-based store,” continued Plaatjes, “and this community is involved in the elite side of the sport. So I called (Running Specialty Group), and they responded immediately, and said they would support whatever the community wants.”
Plaatjes remains the sole American to win the World Championship Marathon (Stuttgart, 1993). He and fellow South African native Johnny Halberstadt co-founded the Boulder Running Company in 1996. When Halberstadt wanted to retire this year, the two sold the three BRC stores to the Gart brothers at Running Specialty Group, which now co-owns some 60 running specialty stores around the country.
While the marathon registration element was eliminated from last night’s program, RnR Denver race director, two-time Olympian Alan Culpepper, was invited to field questions regarding “why CGI would do such a thing”, as Plaatjes put it.
“Lots of questions, not a lot of great answers,” he reported after the session.
The sport was caught off guard by the CGI decision to axe its U.S. elite athlete program two weeks ago. The reaction has run the gamut from ire to understanding. And we can be fairly certain it hasn’t run its course as yet. Stay tuned.