“… old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.” – J.K. Rowling
I swore I’d never use this forum to rant, so in respect for those of you who have a low tolerance for ranting, you are excused. For my 79th post, I will invoke my Rite2Rant for the first, and hopefully final, time. I initially refrained from the first part of this rant in my last post; however a survey I received by email this week from the Rock ‘n Roll Half-Marathon pushed me over the edge. I turned into Howard Beale in Network
I was willing to overlook the entry fee that was as ridiculously unreasonable (more than $100, not including a $6 processing fee), as the $32 fee I paid for a half-marathon in August was reasonable. Okay, it was a large race, 20,000 runners. I’ve worked many races as a volunteer, both small local races and ones larger the Rock ‘n Roll. Large races are a logistical nightmare that require a mind-boggling amount of coordination and attention to detail. I get it.
The rant I refrained from my last post was related to a $30 fee levied on runners who wished to pick-up their race packet and bib on race day, ostensibly to encourage them to walk through the race Expo which is conveniently co-located with packet pick-up the day before the race. This requirement constitutes an abject disregard for runners who must drive hours each way, pay for parking, which in downtown Philadelphia can run up to $15-20, and wait in line to pick up a tiny bag of stuff. Never mind the value of the runner’s personal time, family, work, etc. If that is not total disrespect for the runners who support the event, I don’t know what is. Race day pick-up was limited to the first 750 runners who requested it no later than four days before the race. NO EXCEPTIONS is bolded in the message. If you were number 751 to request, you were screwed. Imagine your favorite musician putting you through such a fiasco to pick up concert tickets the day before a show. The math is easy – 750 x $30 = $22,500. Wow! For a service more than likely performed by one of the hundreds of volunteers who donate their time.
I overlook all of this until the survey came last week. It wasn’t enough of an infringement on my privacy that Rock ‘n Roll wanted to know my ethnicity, income, year I was born and the type of eyewear I bought, they insisted on crossing the line. They had to know what kind of beer I drank and where I bought it, Costco, Wal-Mart or one of about another half-dozen on the list? Really? It is important for the race directors of the Rock ‘n Roll marathon to know where I buy my beer? It was the survey that confirmed my suspicion that the Rock ‘n Roll series has transitioned from a race to a commercial marketing extravaganza.
Here’s a suggestion. That $22,500 from the $30 same day pick-up fees—donate it to charity. There are several in Philadelphia that provide running programs for inner-city students and homeless. And for my readers, I asked questions about the issues I raise above in the survey comments and did not get a response. Surprised?
Whew! Glad that’s over and I can get on with my writing. As Danny Vinyard say posthumously in American History X, “Life is too short to be pissed off all the time.”
Next up, Part II in the Art of Running series.