BBB Warning: Fun Runs Promise More Than They Deliver

July 23, 2014

Running shoesBetter Business Bureau has been hearing lots of complaints about various “fun runs” that have been cancelled with short notice, and often with no refunds.

Last week, BBB of Greater Cleveland reported on a 5K Foam Fest that was cancelled with just four days’ notice.  An email to participants who had paid said “Unfortunately, we’re not able to provide you with a refund.”  A similar event scheduled for southern California was also cancelled with the same “no refund” email.  The race website says they had ceased operations as of July 17.  Another race company has offered Foam Fest participants a discount code for future theme races.

The two 5K Foam Fest events were to be put on by Round House Racing Team, based in Utah.  Since the cancellation was announced, BBB Utah has received 90 complaints from participants looking for refunds of the $45-75 registration fees they were charged.  BBB is processing those complaints now, and an alert was added to the company’s BBB Business Review.

This cancellation news came just a month after Runners’ World reported that the Electric Foam 5K had shut down after numerous race cancellations and an “F” rating with BBB for its parent company, Color Mania 5K.  A number of BBBs and at least one national media outlet had been investigating the cancelled Electric Foam 5Ks when the company announced it was closing down all the events.  Some participants received refunds through Groupon.  The company’s website said it was filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If you are thinking about participating in a themed fun run, here are some BBB tips:

Do your research - Check out the company’s BBB Business Review and search online for additional information before signing up.

Understand the terms and conditions - In some cases, promoters say on their websites that they don’t offer refunds, but many consumers don’t read the fine print before hitting “I agree” to terms contained in lengthy online documents.

Check the local venue - Contact the park or other venue to confirm that the event is indeed scheduled.

Pay with a credit card - Charges made on a credit card can be disputed after a purchase, whereas debit, cash or wire transfer transactions cannot.

Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online registration process, you should receive a confirmation receipt.  Print out and keep a copy of the confirmation and any supporting documentation for future reference.

Check out the charity - Most fun runs are for profit, but if the promoters claim a portion of the proceeds will go to charity, check it out at to make sure your donation is going to a trustworthy charity.  Be wary of sound-alike names similar to more famous charities.

Founded in 1928, BBB Serving Connecticut is an unbiased, non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior, and is one of 112 local, independent BBBs across North America.

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust.  In 2013, people turned to BBB more than 132 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at