The story behind the Dirty Girl Mud Run outrage (and how to avoid race scams)

Running News

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 4.36.18 PM Dirty Girl Mud Run is in the dog house after announcing that they would be canceling an event set for three days later with no refund. The response has been overwhelmingly negative and some are even threatening a lawsuit.

About 2,500 had registered for the 5-kilometer run and paid entry fees between $65 and $95.

Here is what Dirty Girl Mud Run posted  on Facebook (foreshadowing here – it didn’t go over well):

“Charleston Dirty Girls, it is with great regret we inform you that the Dirty Girl Mud Run will not be held this weekend in Charleston, WV. While the city of Charleston worked diligently and closely with Dirty Girl Mud Run to take all possible steps to put on the event, it can not be held due to circumstances out of our control. We would like to thank the city of Charleston as well as the city officials for all the assistance they’ve provided. Per our policy, we will not be issuing refunds under any circumstances.”

But hold up – we might have a reason. Deputy Mayor Rod Blackstone told WSAZ the shuttle service for the race didn’t receive payment or hear from organizers by the deadline Tuesday so the shuttle service pulled out of the race.

The groups Facebook page had been flooded with hundreds of negative comments calling the organization “crooks” and “scammers” when the company deleted the post and reposted again – erasing all of the comments. This only prompted more fury from women who believe the comment was only deleted to get rid of their feedback.

“Wow – you just deleted 870 comments in a single sweep. That’s not exactly the way to calm an angered crowd,” one poster commented.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 3.41.12 PM

Tia Mattson, a spokeswoman for Dirty Girl Mud Run, told the Charleston Gazette that the company is working on allowing those registered for Charleston’s events to transfer to other runs if they wish. It’s not clear at this point if that is a viable option. “We have an error in the registration system that does not yet allow women to transfer to another event. We are working right now to correct this and can let you know when that is addressed so when and if option is available to women in Charleston, WV, you can alert them,” Mattson wrote. “Please note we have not issued refunds for any participants registered for the Charleston, WV event.”

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his office had been inundated with calls related to the race.

“This is an issue that has come up very fast,” he said to the Star Tribune. According to the Better Business Bureau, this isn’t the first cancelation to cause a stir. BBB of Greater Cleveland reported on a 5K Foam Fest that was canceled with four days notice and no refunds.

An email to paid participants said “Unfortunately, we’re not able to provide you with a refund.” Another scheduled for California was also canceled with a “no refund” email.

“The two 5K Foam Fest events were to be put on by Round House Racing Team, which is based in Utah. Since the cancellation was announced, BBB Utah has received 90 complaints from participants looking for refunds of the $45-75 registration fees they were charged. The BBB is processing those complaints now, and an Alert was added to the company’s BBB Business Review,” the BBB reports.

It’s no surprise that this week, the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin received forty-seven complaints from paid participants of the Dirty Girl Mud Run event.

In a response to the influx of complaints, the Better Business Bureau offered some tips:

“If you are thinking about participating in a themed fun run, here are some BBB tips:

  • Do your research. Check out the company’s BBB Business Review and search online for additional information before signing up.
  • Understand the terms and conditions. In some cases, promoters say on their websites that they don’t offer refunds, but many consumers don’t read the fine print before hitting “I agree” to long online documents.
  • Check the local venue. Contact the park or other venue to confirm that the event is scheduled.
  • Pay with a credit card. Charges made on a credit card can be disputed after a purchase, whereas debit, cash or wire transfer transactions cannot.
  • 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. Most fun runs are for-profit, but if the promoters claim a portion of the proceeds will go to charity, check it out ongive.org to make sure your donation is going to a trustworthy charity. Be wary of sound-alike names similar to more famous charities.”
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