A for-profit Wake County marathon gets $125,000 in tax money a year and donates no profits to charity. Two non-profit marathons in the county get no tax money and donate money to charities.
Is there anything wrong with this picture? You be the judge.
The full name of the for-profit marathon is the Rock ’n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon & ½ Marathon presented by WRAL benefiting The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Most people would infer from the last part of the name that the San Diego-based company putting on the race, Competitor Group Inc., donates a portion of its profits to the V Foundation.
But they would be wrong.
As The News & Observer reported the week after Raleigh RnR’s inaugural run in mid-April, CGI didn’t donate a dime to the charity. CGI’s only sacrifice was giving free race entry to the 465 (of around 12,500 total) runners who raised at least $500 for the V Foundation. Those runners raised, according to a story posted on the race’s website last week, more than $300,000 for the V Foundation.
It’s excellent that this money went to the V Foundation. But the public’s likely perception regarding the source of the money probably was wrong before the N&O published that story.
Next year, according to The N&O, runners will have to raise $750 to earn that free entry. In order to run one of the races, any runner who falls short of that figure has to pay well over $100 as raceday approaches.
Contrast that to 2 other Wake County marathons: The Tobacco Road Marathon, a Cary race mostly on the American Tobacco Trail in mid-March, and the Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon, run in early November. Even though no part of their names suggests that they donate money to charity, they do. Tobacco Road, which has an all-volunteer staff, donated $100,000 to local charities earlier this year and City of Oaks donates about $50,000 to local charities.
Just like Boston?
Part of CGI’s defense appears to be that the fundraising model for the Boston Marathon and other big races is the same. That may be true. But one of the most legendary road races in the world is put on by the non-profit Boston Athletic Association, which has deep roots in the Boston area. And its name isn’t the “Boston Marathon benefitting XYX Charity.”
It’s laughable to compare the two races considering RnR Raleigh’s race director lives in Colorado and its medical director lives in Spokane. About the only local aspects of the race are the course, the folks who volunteer their time to the race and the tax money it will be given each year.
CGI gets tax money from the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, which is a division of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. The money comes from Wake County’s hotel occupancy tax and the county’s prepared food and beverage tax. I’m sure local businesses get a financial boost from race weekend.
National company forces local race to move
There is another frustrating part of this deal. It supplanted an established April half-marathon that was put on by the local folks at RunRaleigh Races. That race was booted to the fall and, in protest, is now called the Rock ’n Rebellion 13.1. It will be run Oct. 5.
The difference? The RunRaleigh Half Marathon in 2013 was on Saturday, April 14. CGI put its inaugural races a day later, on Palm Sunday, which created many issues with churches.
It seems that it’s all about the money.
Most marathons give runners anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to register with the low introductory registration price. When registration opened May 7 for the 2015 Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, it was with a relatively low charge of $70.
That was valid for two days.
On May 9, it went up to $90, it goes up to $95 on Oct. 1, $100 on Nov. 1, $110 on Jan. 1, $115 on Feb. 1, $125 on March 1 and $150 on race weekend. Back to the Boston comparison, it should be noted that the Boston Marathon is much more expensive. Given the stature of the race, that shouldn’t be surprising.
Lots of runners said that they enjoyed running either the marathon or the half-marathon despite the hills and the heat. CGI can’t control the heat, but there have been suggestions that it is going to try to alter the course to minimize the hills.
I’m happy for the runners who did have a good time finishing one of the races and I’ve heard that the race was very well organized.
No recognition of runners who died
CGI also couldn’t control the tragic deaths of two half-marathoners in their 30s—High Point’s Jason Schlosser and Raleigh’s Derrick Myers. But it was an insult to those two men that there wasn’t (and still isn’t) any acknowledgement on its website of their deaths or a virtual memorial of any sort.
CGI still proudly hails on the website that a contestant on the Biggest Loser ran one of its Raleigh races. Apparently, two runners who die at one of its races aren’t as significant as a reality-TV star.
The Raleigh Galloway training group set up the Runners Remembered Fund, a memorial fund to honor Schlosser and Myers. Donations can be made to any Wells Fargo Bank through the end of May. The funds will be split evenly between the college fund for Myers’ children and the Guilford County Animal Shelter in Schlosser’s memory.
Wouldn’t it have been nice to have CGI promote this memorial fund?
Why not save your money?
If you’re interested in paying the high registration fees for CGI’s marathon, more power to you. And having a race that promotes running is positive if it motivates people to get in shape.
But CGI isn’t getting any of my money.
I ran the Tobacco Road Marathon for a fifth consecutive year in March and will run the Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon in November. I happily skipped the Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and, 3 weeks later, ran a point-to-point race from Fayetteville to Fort Bragg, the All American Marathon. It was superbly organized by Fayetteville-area folks.
I suggest that you’d be better off, and have more money in your pocket, if you support one of Wake County’s other 3 marathons, all run by local folks: City of Oaks on Nov. 2 ($80 until June 30), the Umstead Trail Marathon on March 7 ($70, but limited to the first 200 entrants; it’s put on by the Carolina Godiva Track Club) or Tobacco Road on March 15 ($75 until Aug. 31).
Take the money you save and donate it directly to the V Foundation, bypassing CGI!
Who needs bands on the course, anyway? My MP3 player is rockin’ my favorite tunes for 26.2 miles!
image via running competitor