In recent years, the number of fun runs has exploded. Ads target everyone from advanced runners to beginners as well as people interested in supporting a cause, such firefighters and veterans. These color runs, obstacle courses and mud runs promise fun and adventure and, often, a chance to help a charity. Many of them deliver, but there have also been cases of promoters simply creating an official-looking website and collecting fees for runs that never happen.
Whether you’re thinking about participating in a themed fun run or a longer race, here are some tips from Better Business Bureau:
Do your research. Check out the race organizer’s BBB Business Profile at bbb.org and look online for additional information before signing up. Read customer reviews from runners who have participated in previous races or events.
Don’t be fooled by a well-designed website. Scammers can easily create an official-looking website. Look for misspellings or poor grammar, which is a sign you might be dealing with fraudsters.
Check with the local venue. Contact the park or host venue to confirm that the event is on the calendar and organizers have gotten the correct permits.
Pay with a credit card. Credit cards give you protection for charges disputed according to the terms of your financial institution. Debit cards generally come with shorter time-lines for fighting charges and minimum fees. Never pay by wire or pre-paid money card.
Understand terms and conditions. If the website says there are no refunds, buyer beware. It’s your responsibility to read the fine print before hitting "I agree" when making a purchase or registering for a race.
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. While the organizers of many runs are for-profit businesses, some may advertise a charitable partner. If race organizers claim a portion of the proceeds will go to charity, ask for more details. Contact the charity to make sure there’s a connection. Research give.org to make sure your donation is going to a trustworthy charity. Be wary of sound-alike names similar to those of more established charities.
Fun runs can indeed be fun, but others have led to headaches. Runners understand it’s a good idea to stretch and train before undertaking a race. BBB reminds readers to start with research to ensure your race goes off without a hitch.
Last reviewed: January 24, 2017