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Granny Gear hopes to keep iconic race alive
Granny Gear Productions, the organizer of the 24 Hours of Moab in Utah, has postponed a final decision on the future of the race. Granny Gear had previously said a decision would be made around the time of the American Thanksgiving holiday today, but shifted the deadline to the first of the year.
Granny Gear's Laird Knight said the race was still financially in the hole but that the amount owed wasn't as much as he had expected after running all the numbers in recent weeks. In the meantime, a tentative date for a 2012 edition has been set.
"The financial dust has settled and, sure enough, I am in the proverbial hole on this year's race. The good news is that, due to the perfect weather that saved roughly $10,000 worth of dust suppression expenses, I'm not in as deep a hole as I had feared. Still, I owe vendors upwards of $20,000," said Knight in an email to race supporters.
Knight went on to explain the math behind the decision-making process concerning the race's future. "I've done extensive budget forecasting but it really comes down to some pretty simple math," he said. "Given that each team represents, on average, about $500 of revenue, first we need to break-even (add 40 teams) then we need to "rob" from 2012 Peter to pay 2011 Paul (add another 40 teams). Then, because we can't rely on such perfect, dust-free conditions, we need to have a cushion for dust suppression (add 20 teams).
"Lastly, I need to pay myself a modicum of a wage next year (20 teams), (note: I've taken no salary for the last year and a half). Also, it would be prudent to have a little cushion of profit going into 2013 (20 teams). Add it up and we need to bump-up next year's field by 140 teams, a total 2012 field of 380 teams. Now it's not quite that simple. There are incremental costs associated with hosting more teams but, based on the budgets I've run, 375-400+ teams is the threshold for sustainability for 24 Hours of Moab."
Knight is working on several ways to keep the race alive. He has applied for an advertising matching grant from the Moab Travel Council (such an award will be announced in mid-December). He's also working with sponsors who can take an active role in bring the race back to be "bigger and better".
Knight issued a plea to those who can help keep the race alive. "I can't do it all myself. It's going to take a real commitment by everyone who has a stake in the ongoing success of this great event. Teams who raced this year need to come back and bring another team with them. We need the folks who missed last year and even those who haven't been back in many years to come back out of the woodwork. And, of course, we'll need the support of enthusiastic sponsors and the continued hard work of my dedicated staff (they've all declared their intention to return)."
A survey to assess the level of commitment is expected to be forthcoming in the next few weeks.
The 2012 24 Hours of Moab has been tentatively scheduled for October 6-7. It is one of the few 24-hour races still on the calendar in North America. In recent years, mountain bike stage races and marathons have increased in number to fill the void.
"Based on one of the suggestions that I received from racers, I've set a tentative date one week earlier than usual in hope of securing a slightly warmer weather-window and I've gotten approval of these dates from the BLM and Utah State Trustlands."
"This year, the OuterBike Demo was scheduled on top of 24 Hours of Moab and it looks like, in 2012, the 6th and 7th will overlap OuterBike again. The overlap was not a huge issue this year, though it's not ideal for local businesses (they'd benefit more by spreading the two events over two separate weekends). With this in mind and other considerations that might benefit the race, I may look at keeping the historical (second Saturday in October) dates of the 13th & 14th. You will get to weigh in on this decision in the up-coming survey."
Knight expressed gratitude for the past 17 years that the 24 Hours of Moab has happened. "It has been an honor and a privilege to be of service to so many fine folk over the years. So much fun, and so much adventure has been created. So many friendships have been created (and, no doubt, a few destroyed) and so many stories!"
"My greatest hope is that the story of the 24 Hours of Moab, far from ending, is at a new beginning that will preserve it for generations," said Knight.