In recent years, the number of fun runs – themed races such as Color Runs, Foam Runs and Mud Runs – offered to racing enthusiasts and beginners has skyrocketed. Though most of these races deliver on their promise of fun and adventure, there have been some issues in regard to races of this nature. Better Business Bureau ® of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers tips to help runners avoid potential obstacles and common pitfalls.
“Though these races are sold as fun, runners take them very seriously,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “We know that many races deliver exactly what they advertise; however, some have left hopeful racers unhappy.”
BBB is receiving reports that a Bubble Run originally scheduled to be held in Blaine next month has been rescheduled for late July. According to the organizer’s website, they have a no refund policy. In 2014, a number of 5K Foam Fest races – including events scheduled to be held in Duluth, Rochester and St. Paul - were canceled after previous races fell through without notice. Issues with races aren’t just limited to Fun Runs. Last June, the Minneapolis Marathon was canceled after organizers failed to secure city permits.
Whether you’re thinking about participating in a themed Fun Run or a much longer race, here are some BBB tips:
- Do your research. Check out the race organizer’s BBB Business Profile 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 the local venue. Contact the park or host venue to confirm that the event is on the calendar. It’s also a good idea to contact city officials to ensure race permits have been obtained.
- Pay with a credit card. Charges made on a credit card can be disputed after a purchase, whereas debit, cash or wire transfers are tougher to dispute.
- Understand the terms and conditions. In a lot of cases, promoters say right on their websites that they don't offer refunds. However, many consumers don't read the fine print before hitting "I agree" when 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. Many fun runs are for-profit, but some have a charitable aim. 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. You can also do your research on 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.
- File a complaint. People who have issues with a race should file complaints at bbb.org and though the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
Fun Runs can indeed be fun, but have also led to headaches in some cases. Just as it’s a good idea to stretch out and train before undertaking a race, it’s also a good idea to do your research ahead of time to ensure your fun run delivers the goods.