Hey Garden Spot Runners,
When you’ve made a mistake, the best thing to do is admit it and make amends. I apologize to all who are upset and frustrated because of our decision and the lack of options. If we mess something up, we do our best to make it right and that is what we’ll try to do, so read on.
Context is important
You may or may not find this humorous but I’m a storyteller so here goes. Context is important; we’re a non-profit retirement community which means, in addition to all the residential living, we have healthcare on our campus. The significance of that, is that in addition to simply the moral responsibility to protect the older adults who live here, we are accountable to the Department of Health. Bringing a whole bunch of people to our campus from all over the U.S including those from locations where a community-wide spread of the Coronavirus is taking place and a few international countries, is simply not an option. However, we still wanted to provide an event, plus people have been asking us to offer a virtual challenge for years.
We’re runners, and we’ve been running marathons and half marathons for years. The Governor of PA made an announcement 48 hours after we contacted you that all events of 250 or more should be cancelled. We saw that coming and wanted to give travelers as much notice as possible to cancel plans. We were trying to do the right thing. Anyway, we kind of looked at each other and said, “We’ve all lost registrations fees for one reason or another, some of us, like yours-truly, a number of them. If you’re a runner, you have to expect it. It comes with the territory. If people are really worried about it, they can buy insurance. We’ve already incurred a bunch of cost and we can’t afford to simply refund the registration fees because it’s a fund raiser for our Benevolent Fund which helps support people in skilled nursing who have run out of money. We didn’t ask for this, and we’re all victims of a crazy situation. So, what can we do to at least provide some value to our runners? Let’s give them a way to earn their stuff so we don’t send them a shirt for a run they never made. We can do a cool last minute “Outran the Pandemic” shirt and include it. We’ll have some added production and postage costs and the contribution to our Benevolent Fund will be a bit higher this year.” That seemed like a win for everybody. Quite frankly this COVID-19 thing stinks no matter how you look at it.
Costs Involved-Costs Incurred
If you’ve ever wondered why races and other sporting events have no-refund policies, try race directing one sometime. Refunds and deferrals are a nightmare to track and manage. In all honesty, with the growing sophistication of registration software, it’s a little easier today than it was 10 years ago. However, to process refunds for all 875+ runners someone has to sit down at a computer and individually calculate and enter each one of the refunds by hand. We tend to think about the “stuff” we get the day of and the experience. However, runners (and I’m a runner) also pay for the organization, the planning (which started in March 2019), the websites, the brochures, advertising, the mailings, the banners, the traffic signs, etc. etc. etc. Races pay for all those up front and they are not recoverable. This is a standalone fund raiser so there is no place to turn to cover the costs, they are included in the registration fee. My request is that you grant some grace to other races if they find themselves in similar situations in the future. Unless they are professionally organized for-profit events there isn’t a lot of extra money at the end of the day. Nobody likes making calls like this. Our goal was to make the best of a bad situation.
Here are some options:
1. Do nothing; If you don’t contact us, we’ll donate all of your registration fee less our costs to our Benevolent Fund which provides healthcare for older adults who have exhausted their financial resources through no fault of their own. We will provide a formula so that you can calculate the charitable tax deduction if you choose.
2. You can participate in the Virtual Challenge. If you ask for a differential refund, we will process one for you equal to what you paid less $45. If you do not ask for a differential refund, it will be donated to our Benevolent Fund.
3. You can transfer your bib at no cost. Please e-mail us with your contact information and the person who will be replacing you.
4. You can defer to next year at no cost. The Half Marathon, 10K is planned for March 27, 2021 and the Kids Half Marathon for March 26, 2021.
5. We will provide a refund less $35 to cover the costs already incurred for the 2020 race (the $35 does not cover all the costs incurred to date).We are hoping the choices everyone makes will balance out, and we’ll break even.
We need to construct a web page so you can let us know which option above that you choose. It’s going to take a while. Our goal is to have it completed by Friday, March 20th . We will contact you as soon as it is ready.
Please use the form when it is ready. If you check our website https://www.gardenspotcommunities.org/coronavirus/ you will see that we are in a crisis situation and still doing our best to provide a Virtual Challenge. This is why I have not returned phone calls or responded to e-mails.
For those of you choosing to participate in the Virtual Challenge you will be eligible for the Road Apple Award if you register for the Bird-in-Hand Half in the fall and come run Lancaster County.
In addition, we’ll be providing further information in regards to what to do the weekend of March 28th. We plan to create another web page so that you will be able to enter your stats and share your run with a virtual community.
As we try to do, we listened to your feedback and are doing our best to make things right. We look forward to hearing from you. Stay tuned and as soon as the options webpage is ready we will let you know.
Scott Miller, -rd