Friday, September 12, 2014

For-Profit Racing Company Buys St. Pete Women's Half Marathon, Then Scraps Race

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - A racing company that failed to fulfill its promises after taking public subsidies for its Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon series is now scrapping a second St. Petersburg race, just two years after purchasing it from a Tampa Bay-area company.

The San Diego-based Competitor Group, which purchased the locally owned-and-operated St. Pete Women's Half Marathon in 2012, notified registrants this week of the cancellation of the 2014 race, scheduled to be run on Nov. 23.

According to a message on the company's website, Competitor Group "had to change our plans for this year and refocus all of our resources and attention to building a completely new and unique series for 2015."  However, a company spokesperson tells 10 News the race is merely "postponed" so the group can re-launch the series under a new vice president.

Runners who already signed up for the St. Pete Women's Half Marathon or 5k race have the options of transferring registration to another Competitor Group race or receiving a full refund.

The cancellation comes a year after the company announced the cancellation of its St. Pete Rock n' Roll Half Marathon race after just two annual runnings, despite receiving tens of thousands of dollars in public subsidies.

10 News first questioned the Rock n' Roll projections in 2012.  The inaugural race ultimately failed to live up to its promise of 12,000-15,000 participants.  In 2013, the numbers were even worse.

The Competitor Group also failed to respond to numerous requests about its charitable claims this summer.  10 Investigates revealed how for-profit companies often fail to put significant dollars in the hands of the charities they claim to help.

The St. Pete Women's Half Marathon was to benefit the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation. The Scottsdale race, scheduled for Nov. 2, was also "postponed" until 2015.

Company spokesperson Dan Cruz said "no dates or markets have been decided upon for the 2015 series," but hoped to know by the end of the year.

"The Women’s Running brand is experiencing a time of tremendous growth on social media, digital traffic and increased print magazine subscriptions," Cruz added.  "Brand editor Jessie Sebor was recently promoted to Vice President, now overseeing the Women’s Running event series and it became apparent the races were falling behind the brand standards of everything Women’s Running has come to represent.

"Therefore we made the difficult decision to postpone two events in 2014 - Scottsdale and St. Pete – and look forward to coming back in 2015 with an innovative, bigger and better Women’s Running Series."

Numerous runners complained on the company's Facebook page about travel plans that could not be cancelled, but Cruz says "We’ll certainly cover the costs for anyone who booked non-refundable travel."

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