Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When a good race experience goes bad.....

As my previous entry discussed my Six Tunnels to Hoover Dam race, I purposely omitted some things I wanted to talk about by themselves. My main reason for doing it separately is because the other posting was lengthy as it was.

Saturday's race was a mix of good and bad.

Good: Got to race somewhere new, beautiful landscape, won and brought home a really nice alabaster statue reflecting the region on some level. Not to mention being able to change races in advance due to need.

Bad: Wrong shirt size (as in not having) despite pre-registered with specific size, starting line issues, turnaround point not staffed (this apparently was a huge issue in the HM), results issues, and the worst part: organizer attitude.

Now the shirt size would have been overlooked had the organizers attitude did not end up on the list. The organizers have held this event for 11 years so I expected a high level of professionalism. On some degree I got that by the event being held but not in all instances. Pre-registered runners should be guaranteed their shirt size. When I registered for a small, I should have not had to settle for a medium. Instructions at the staging area were not clear which lead to confusion at the start line and made it harder for the timers.

Now once I finished Eddie from Mountain Man Events came up to congratulate me. At this point I knew I won one of the alabaster trophies. As always, I like to stick around for the ceremony and was happy to know that the 5K would be done as soon as they had all the age groups from the timers. Since their event page listed the time for awards at 10:45 with no distinction made for the 5K, I thought I would have to grab it early and leave (especially since they clearly say they will not ship the alabaster). So this was good....

However, after the cooldown, I learned of some issues with the results being done. It was now close to 1:15 since I finished so I went up to Eddie and told him about what looked to be the issue with the results and requesting to take my statue early. It would have been one thing to say 'sorry, that is our policy' but to be flat out told 'no, you can't. we don't mail them.' in what is the most hostile of tones just shocked me. I replied about the results issues and know they do not mail the statues which is why I was asking. More of the most rude interaction with a race organizer ever to where I thought maybe he was joking as he just walked away. I turned to his fellow organizer and asked if he was serious. She said he was and that the policy is to not give out the awards early as they like to have the winners present. Mind you they will mail out the age group awards. And on their event page, only mention the alabaster statues will not be mailed, not that you had to present at the awards to receive something you won.

Considering they held all the cards, I had no choice but to wait. I had to wait about another 25-30 minutes before receiving my award. During this span, I heard Eddie from Mountain Man have two interactions with other runners (from the half marathon) that were just appalling to me. In the first, the HM 3rd place finisher, inquired about a turnaround point where 2nd turned and learned it was not the correct point (it was obviously confusing enough it should have been staffed). 3rd after seeing 2nd make the turn did the same himself (to find out he ran short). This gent mentioned how he trained for months to run the 13.1 and felt disappointed. The response was, well you were a solid third, 2 minutes behind 2nd and 2 minutes in front of 4th. Once again, no sorry. The other was much worse. Another HM finisher, commented also about a turnaround point. His dealt with the mile 10 marker. He said everyone was turning around at that point (not sure if it was the same point 3rd place was referencing) and he too turned there as a result for placing reasons. (After all, it is still a race against other people for some.) The organizer once again did not take any responsibility or offer an apology but went on to blame the runners in the most overly dramatic way I have ever seen. It was so bad that later on I went to the gentleman and let him know I saw and heard the whole time. And that Eddie's response was just unprofessional. He appreciated that someone else saw it and had a similar response.

As a race organizer, you do not get rude with the runners who pay the money to participate. They are in essence your customers. You don't need to treat them like you don't care about their justifiable concerns. In all cases, a simple 'sorry' would have been nice to hear. Instead, it was someone else's fault.

While my award was nice, I have to say, I would never do another even organized by these people. And I would not recommend their events as a result to anyone. Worst interactions witnessed as a runner ever. (Over hundreds of races, over 19 years.)

(Also, while switching events was nice, it took multiple email attempts days apart to get a response.)

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