Canceled: Big House Big Heart race forced out of Michigan Stadium
Joseph Tobianski | AnnArbor.com
- Related article: Big House Big Heart coordinator 'baffled' by why race can't finish in Michigan Stadium
An annual fundraising race that loops through University of Michigan and downtown Ann Arbor and ends at the city's most iconic landmark, Michigan Stadium, is canceled.
"It is with sadness that we announce that University of Michigan Athletics has decided that Big House Big Heart no longer fits into its charitable mission and therefore the race cannot finish in the Big House," Big House Big Heart coordinators wrote in an email to supporters.
Associate athletic director Dave Ablauf, who handles media and communication for the department, said the run no longer fit into the department's charitable mission.
"Really the decision in the end came down to our external focus," said Ablauf. The department announced last month that it would begin partnering with the Special Olympics of Michigan for community service efforts. The first event of that partnership is the "Polar Plunge" at Michigan Stadium on Feb. 23, 2013.
That partnership, Ablauf said, has become the department's priority. Ablauf said the run had become "a very challenging event ... to fit into our stadium."
Joseph Tobianski I AnnArbor.com
"We have our own private rental program, we're doing stuff with the Special Olympics and we have a lot of things we do now in the that stadium," Ablauf offered.
The run has taken place for the past six years and includes a 10-kilometer, 5K and a 1-mile run. In 2011 roughly 15,000 runners raised $1.5 million for 175 nonprofits, up from the $172,000 raised by approximately 4,000 participants during the event's first year.
The 2013 race was planned for Sunday, April 14, 2013.
"Priorities do change with administration changes," staff from Champions For Charity, which coordinated the Big House run, wrote in an email, adding that, in past races, runners were "diligent to leave the stadium in better shape than when we entered."
Last year, the event was moved from the fall to the spring at the request of the athletic department.
Champions for Charity will continue to coordinate the June Ann Arbor Marathon, which debuted in the city last year. A representative of the organization said staffers haven't decided whether or not to replace the Big House Big Heart run with another event.