Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Who Are You Supporting When You Race?

I get the question all the time - as both a runner and a race coordinator.

Why don't you do the Color Run? When are you going to coordinate a Glow Run/Color Run/Gladiator Dash/(fill in the blank with the new race trend/fad)?

My running response slightly differs as my coordinator response. Personally, as a runner, I don't find any fun in paying super-duper high prices to not be timed and have color sprayed on me - color that I hear tends to stick on for a while. Call me a prude. Call me a tightwad. Or call me a running purist (maybe)? It all comes down to the fact that I don't race often (time/cost involved/family) and so when I race, I want to make it count and do something I'll actually enjoy doing. 

But my main personal reason and coordinator reason are the same: I want to be a part of an event that gives back the majority - if not all - of its proceeds to the community it serves. 

Color Runs don't do that. Glow Runs don't do that. Gladiator Dashes don't do that. To their credit, they do say up-front they're for-profit in their FAQ section. However, they tend to do what so many for-profit race groups tend to do these days: they partner with an area charity/agency and use that to attract goodwill participants.

What these participants don't know is that only a slight percentage of the proceeds are in fact going to the supported charity. Probably on average 5-10%. And while that may be in the up-ward of $20,000-$50,000 or more dollars, just think of what the race group is taking home in their pockets. Yep. Thousands, if not millions.

That, and being a partnering agency/charity for their run takes some work, with their stipulations. In my research, these partnering agencies must do most of the prep/organizational work as far as packet stuffing, pick-up, assisting along the course and making community/police/proper protocol, etc. For some agencies who may not understand the race industry, it may be daunting - or, on the other hand, it may be worth all of that work to walk away with a check for thousands of dollars.

My entire basis is on principle, though.

These race developers/creators are walking away with millions of dollars without doing much of the work themselves.

Genius for some, yes.

Chamber of Commerces may leap to see the thousands of competitors it brings, yes.

But these races hurt those local mainstay races that use complete (or mostly) volunteer efforts to put on a quality, top-notch race where all (or at least 90%) of the proceeds go straight back to the community they serve.

It's a Catch-22 of the race industry, I tell ya.

On one hand, it's great to see the gusto of people wanting to participate in a 5k - it gets people moving and healthy (for at least a short while). On the other hand, it's taking away the hard-fought efforts of the "little" man community agency or group wanting to truly give something back to their community and host a well-run race along the way.

Everyone has their preference. It's the glorious thing about choosing what races to compete in.

All I ask is that you do your own research before you choose to race. If you don't care why you race or what group is being supported (for-profit vs. non-profit), that's completely your decision.

But if you do want to know where your race entry fee is going - besides the experience and all that the race brings - I encourage you to do.your.research.



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