Race organizers estimated a race to benefit Sandy Hook would easily draw 10,000 runners. If three or four runners shared a car, (unlikely) that's about 3,000 additional cars downtown.
"If you have 10,000 runners, you lock down the city," said Danbury Police Chief Al Baker.
Baker said 3,000 cars would fill every single parking spot downtown. Where would the residents park? With cars parked on both sides of the road in Rogers Park, the runners would be crowded and squeezed into a line. Baker said the sheer size of the event killed it.
The numbers cause this problem. The elite runners finish first before many runners have started the race. The narrow path and slow start would close Main Street for hours.
Boughton and western Connecticut Race Organizer Dave Duleavy, who organized races since the 1980s, said Danbury's biggest race, the Connecticut Classic, attracted 1,800 runners. Dunleavy said Danbury could host at most 3,000 runners.
"If we could have grown it year by year, 1,800 to 2,500 to 5,000, maybe we could have learned how to handle it," Boughton said. This race has no learning curve. It is zero to 60 in one second. Danbury didn't have time to learn how to handle 3,000 extra cars. The mayor said, "I have to listen to the chief on this."
When organizers told Danbury officials they could not hold the number of runners below 10,000, Danbury said, no thanks. Very sorry.
The Sandy Hook Run for the Families will take place in Hartford at 10 a.m. March 23. It is sponsored and organized by the Hartford Marathon Foundation.
"I think the city made a very wise decision," said Dunleavy, who is organizing a race along side Lake Waramaug called the Polar Bear Run on Feb. 24. He is not involved in the Hartford Marathon Foundation race.