Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Moral Dilemma of Racing

After a frustrating day of dealing with race/event management companies I started to rethink my fall plans and what events I would be doing. I guess in the past I've been really spoiled by some great race management companies and having had some experience in the non-profit world of event management I find it to be really frustrating when a company neglects to plan properly or just doesn't accept responsibility for their errors.

It started yesterday with the See Jane Run bib pick-up. It's a 5k that I'm doing on Sunday but they also have a 1/2 Marathon distance as well. I can not make the Expo on Saturday as I have way too many activities, including my daughter's Birthday Party and Time Trials for her swim team. They have options to pick up your bib everyday this week at one of their stores. They won't give me my shirt or bag, but I figured it would make my morning much easier if I could at least have my bib/timing chip ahead of time and not stand in a gigantic line race day morning (last year the line was ridiculous!). Originally they hadn't posted times for pick-up at their Danville store, so I assumed I could go when the store opened at 10am. Luckily the night before they posted on Facebook that it started at 11am. I made a few changes to my morning plans and figured 11am would still give me enough time to get back home to pick up Kylie at noon.

When I arrived to the store in Blackhawk Plaza, I was a few minutes early and didn't see anything set up so I went and walked around the Plaza a little bit before coming back at 11am. Much to my surprise, I found that the bibs were not at the store, that they were still in transit. I was a little frustrated but they told us they should be to the store before 11:30am. I figured as long as that was true that would give me exactly enough time to get to Kylie's school. If you aren't familiar with the area, BlackHawk while in Danville, is pretty far off of the freeway and it's about a 30 minute drive for me. As the See Jane Run Facebook page was posting about their packet pick-ups I replied to them that there were several of us waiting in Danville for bibs that were not at the store. Which prompted them to respond "on their way!", and I believe prompted the owner to get involved as well. At 11:30am with no sign of any bibs one of the store employee's delivered the news that they would be there in 15 minutes. I had heard someone else say they were in Oakland. I couldn't wait 15 more minutes because I would never get to my daughter's school in time, but I also knew that there was no way they would be in Danville from Oakland in 15 minutes, it's just not possible. Turns out someone posted that she waited 1 hour and 40 minutes and the bibs had finally arrived but were in no sort of order and the line was moving really slowly.

I get that things happen that are out of your control, but the entire time the store employee's kept blaming the timing management company. When I left I explained that they hired the timing company, this was their event and they needed to accept responsibility and come up with solutions rather than passing the blame. My largest complaint was that someone continually was giving false information about what time they would show up. If when I had arrived they had been honest and said we're looking at 12:30pm before they get here, I would have been irritated but at least I wouldn't have stood around for 30 minutes only to leave without my bib. There are lots of options out there and how you treat people is going to be the determining factor if that person signs up for any more events with you. It also happens to sometimes end up in a blog...

I should have ended my race planning right there. Sadly, the Princess Promenade Ride that I was planning on doing has a price increase today so I needed to decided if I was going to register or not. This ride is hosted by Noble Pursuit, Inc. About a month ago when I was going to register their website said "sign up for our newsletter for an instant discount code for registration and training plans". Awesome, I need both of those things! I submitted my email address and sadly there was no instant coupon code. I waited and thought maybe it's not really instant. Yesterday, I decided to email them to see what was going on. The response I received back from the CEO was that they had three websites go live all at once and were still working out the "marketing programs". This was her polite way of telling me that there was no discount code. Okay, whatever, I'm pretty sure that's false advertising or something but I was still going to do the event. I went to to register and as I'm filling out the form it shows that the event shirt is $20. This surprised me because I'm pretty sure when I visited the site previously, the race fee included an event shirt, but that if I wanted a jersey for the event that would be an extra cost. I went back through the website, and sure enough no mention of a shirt. That seemed odd to me, because I really remember reading it differently. I emailed back the CEO and asked her. Her response was that last year the shirt was $8 with registration but that due to increased costs overall, they are now offering it at the retail price of $20, and "hope the economy turns around". Basically, I was looking at $60 to ride, $20 for the shirt and $12 for the festival afterwards and $5 to park. This was starting to sound like a rip off to me. Perhaps if I were riding one of the longer distances I could justify all that, but I was only registering for the 26 mile ride. I won't be doing this ride, I seem to be having some issues with the event company appearing to be making a lot of money off of every possible angle.

This brought up a discussion among friends about supporting races that are for charities versus supporting for profit race management companies. I guess this is something I need to pay more attention to as I expand my racing activities. I don't have a problem supporting a for profit race company if the price is reasonable and they do a great job. There are a lot of phenomenal race companies out there that I have had the pleasure of racing with and volunteering for. I think as long as I can see the quality of what I am getting versus the cost of the entrance fee I'm okay with that. In the situation with the Princess Promenade I couldn't see what my fee was getting me since I was paying for everything else as an add-on. Kind of like flying with the airlines.

At any rate this summer I will hopefully be doing a bike ride for a worthy non-profit program in Los Gatos. They are still ironing out details, so I'll be sure to share once they have their routes all figured out.

In addition to that I wanted to take the chance to mention some of my favorite race event companies. I need to remember to add some races from these folks to fill out the rest of my season!

Mermaid Series
Brazen Racing
WolfPack Events
Finish Line Productions
On Your Mark Events 

Enjoy your race season!

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