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Organisers cancel sporting festival after 'six-figure' loss in 2012 event

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 22, 2012

Gold medallist Helen Glover starts one of festival's beach runs, top, and cyclists head off for the road race, above

Gold medallist Helen Glover starts one of festival's beach runs, top, and cyclists head off for the road race, above

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A major sporting event, which brought thousands of people to West Cornwall and pumped much-needed cash into the local economy, will not return next year.

The Festival of Sport was held in Marazion for the first time in September.

Organisers have blamed finances for their decision to pull the plug.

The location, problems attracting large sponsors and the fact that the inaugural event ran up a "six-figure" loss all contributed to the festival's demise.

"Ultimately it is a financial decision for us as a business," said Rob Hillman, event director for organisers Human Race.

"We were saying 'is this something we want to invest in?' and ultimately we decided it is not going to continue."

Refusing to go into detail about the amount lost, Mr Hillman added: "We lost quite a lot of money in 2012, we always knew we would with set-up costs.

"But the five-year plan had seen concerns over the level of funding we would be receiving."

Any shortfall could have been swallowed up by participant entry fees in the coming years, he said.

In 2012 about 2,000 people took part but if organisers were to hit the entrant ceiling of 4,000, there would be more problems. A 'thorough' review was carried out following the final sporting showdown and it gave a worrying indication of things to come.

"That process has given us answers that suggested that growth of the event and time and money that we invest in it doesn't stack up in terms of long-term commercial viability," said Mr Hillman.

St Aubyn Estate, which hosted the festival, has been left "shocked and deeply disappointed" by the moves.

The news was announced on the St Michael's Mount Facebook page.

"It is a real shame not only for those of you who took part and attended but also for the town of Marazion and West Cornwall as a whole," said a spokesman for the estate. Charlotte Somers, head of marketing for the St Aubyn business, said the concept of the festival was a strong one and the estate would look at other options to bring a similar event back to the picturesque venue.

"We don't want to let it go without a fight," she said. "We will be exploring other options and who knows what may rise from its ashes."

The Festival of Sport took place in September and saw athletes travel from across the country to compete in a host of events, from triathlons to cycle races and open-water swims.

Human Race had been planning the festival for a number of years with help from the Marazion community, St Aubyn Estate and town council. Despite it being proclaimed a complete success and vowing to return next year, the organisers have shelved the idea.

Organisers said there was the possibility of moving the concept to a more central location in the future.

"We are not looking at a Festival of Sport in 2013," said Mr Hillman.

"We will look at the feasibility of a Middle England location, somewhere a bit more accessible. But we lose the iconic venue that we had at Marazion."

The 96 athletes already signed up to take part in next year's event will be given a refund of their entry fee.

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