As you probably know, my big hobby is running. I'm not fast, but I'm committed, and my favorite distance is the half marathon. For me, it's a challenge that's doable with the right training, but still leaves me time to live my life. Plus there's usually bling at the end. I'm a sucker for a sweet medal.
I didn't race this past weekend, but there were two fairly large races that had some... issues, and it's been amazing to see the power of the internet during these issues.
I won't discuss one of the races, because it happened yesterday and the organizers have not yet had a chance to respond. The bigger issues happened with the Hot Chocolate 15K and 5K in Washington, DC. This was billed as a great race with an amazing race premium (a water resistant jacket) and chocolate at the end. But there were some problems. From what I've heard:
- Jackets were extremely low quality, mis-sized, and they ran out of DC jackets, so some people got Chicago jackets.
- Parking issues, to the point where people who paid for parking did not get it, and much of the parking was over a mile from the race start, contrary to the information given to the runners
- Due to these problems, the race started about an hour late
- The lead 5K runner was misdirected, leading to a rerouting of the course and some extra crowding
- Part of the course was in one lane of a highway, with the other lanes still open to traffic. That's right, running alongside fast-moving traffic.
I hear the post-race chocolate was good though, so that's a plus.
The race organizers have put out a statement apologizing, but many people aren't taking it. Some have commented that it's almost like mob mentality has taken over. In my opinion, the worst part of the whole thing is the course on the highway, closely followed by the jacket issues. If there's something that the race organizers can control, it's the items they have made for the runners.
What does this have to do with personal finance? Aside from being a lesson for any small business owners or people organizing a charitable event, it's also a reminder to always research what you're getting into. This was an inaugural race, so the runners didn't know what they were getting into. But for next year, I'm sure a bunch of runners won't be back and others won't sign up because a quick Google search will bring up all of these negative comments. So when you're planning a purchase or thinking about signing up for an event, look for reviews first. This makes sense for the big purchases, but might not be a bad idea for the medium sized purchases either. You might find yourself saving a bit of money and heartache.