Organizers of the 24-hour Mountain Bike World Championships in Canmore, Alberta, Canada, announced the cancellation of the race on Friday, August 10. The annual world championship, which is not sanctioned by the UCI, was to have run September 14-16, 2012.
"Today is a hard day... it's like the loss of a family member. I'm sad for all the racers (and families) who trained hard and devoted resources to being in Canmore this September," read a letter by Stuart Dorland, founder of the W24C/WSC committee on the race's website. "I'm sad for those in this community of Canmore that supported our desire to build a world-class event. I'm disappointed and sad beyond belief at the cancellation today, which is a real blow for the whole endurance family."
Dorland went on to explain that it "would not be economically and administratively feasible to keep the event on the calendar... The priority has always been to ensure that the event lives up to the required standards of the participants which it cannot do without proper funding."
"Dating back to 1998 when it was decided that we (Trilife Sports International) would underwrite the creation of a world championship (1999), this event was always dedicated to showcasing the best endurance athletes. It's been our vision to provide the endurance community with the ultimate test for both elite and age group mountain bike athletes."
Success at the 24-hour mountain bike worlds made the careers of riders like (now retired) Chris Eatough. Movies like 24 Solo documented the effort and planning that went into winning the race multiple times. Eatough won six 24-hour solo world titles and five US 24-hour national championships during his career.
"After announcing that Canmore, Alberta Canada would host the championships back in August of 2011, W24C have worked hard based on a 'not-for-profit' model to provide the best possible event for all athletes involved," said statement continued.
Dorland claimed in his letter to have attracted the best international field in the 13-year history of the event, but the problem was the lack of general participation.
"At the end of the day while other areas (lack of sponsorship support) challenged our resources it was the recent loss of overall participation numbers, over the past two weeks that finally made the decision inevitable."
Dorland promised refunds to all racers who had not cancelled or had outstanding balances within 72 hours of the letter's date. Pros such as Tinker Juarez, Josh Tostado, Kelly Magelky, Cory Wallace and Leighton Poidevin had committed to the race.
The cancellation of this event seems in keeping with trends in mountain biking, in which many participants have moved from endurance events like 24-hour races to newer formats like 100-milers, mountain bike stage races and shorter marathon events. The trend is widespread across North American in particular.
Another 24-hour race in Utah, the 24 Hours of Moab, recently struggled with whether or not to continue after its participation also had dropped over the years. According to the race's website, the event will happen again in 2012. Granny Gear Productions put on as many as seven 24-hour races in the heyday of 24-hour racing, but the Moab one is the only one still happening. Its 18th edition is scheduled for October 6-7, 2012.
Without an official UCI designation of a world championship event, several 24-hour events around the globe have at times claimed world championships status. Another event in Finale Ligure, Italy, also called the 24-hour world championships, was run in May of 2012. It was run under the auspices of the World Endurance Mountain Bike Organization (WEMBO), their next championship event is scheduled for Australia in 2013, then Scotland in 2014.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.