BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — After 21 years, the Birmingham running community will say goodbye to an event near and dear to their hearts. 

The 21st annual Mercedes-Benz Marathon Weekend is set to take place February 10-12, 2023, and will be its last run. Those heavily involved in making the event a reality all these years say this farewell won’t be easy, but they are looking toward the future.

Valerie Cuddy, who built this annual event from the ground up, says it has always been a big celebration of the running community in Birmingham and she is sad to say ‘so long.’ But like all good things in life, she says it must come to an end.

“No pun intended, but it’s run its course,” said Cuddy who serves as chairman of the Mercedes Marathon. “I think it’s just run its course.”

Cuddy says there is no future for this specific race, but they are open to new opportunities.

“If anything in the future comes about, I think our group, our organization, our staff, we will meet with runners and maybe create something new or find some other entities that may want to be involved,” Cuddy said.

Since the beginning, the marathon weekend events have benefitted The Bell Center For Early Intervention Programs.

“We’re going to be fine,” said Jeannie Colquett, Executive Director at The Bell Center. “We’re going to miss having that opportunity to be on such a big stage with the Mercedes Marathon, but who knows what the future will hold and if there’s another event that comes along, we’ll throw our support totally behind that as well.”

For now, both organizations want to focus fully on making this final year the biggest and best it’s ever been with the expectation of hosting nearly 10,000 runners.

”20 years could have been a great exit or an understandable exit to the event, but I didn’t want to see this event go without saying a big thank you to the runners and a big blowout to everybody saying, ‘Okay we’ve had 21 great years.’ We’re 21 and done,” Cuddy said. “Let’s have a great time with it and really show the world what we have to offer here.”

They say their goal is to make this a huge year and really send out the Mercedes Marathon with a great farewell. From there, the future is wide open.  

To register for a race event, you can visit their website and click “REGISTER NOW” in the top left corner. If your child would like to participate in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Kids Mercedes-Benz Marathon — the largest of its kind in the country — you have until Sunday, Dec. 4 to register.