Having missed a number of half-marathons this year, I tried to sign up for more as the months passed by; one of them being the Mizuno Wave Run, which was scheduled for the end of September.
However, the haze wreaked havoc with a lot of plans. Many runs had to be cancelled or postponed; some of the smaller run events still went ahead with the run, but they cut the distances down. Most run events ended up canceling the event altogether and just distribute the finisher medals to participants even though they never ran.
It is a difficult situation for run organisers in cases like these. I do understand the predicament. Most experienced runners don’t want a “free” medal – they wanted to run to earn the medals. But when the weather is being unkind, they could not force people to run; after all the ministry of health even advised all outdoor activities be canceled. Yet it is difficult for the organisers to postpone their event as participants may not be able to make it for the new date, and logistics might be a nightmare as they would have to reapply for permits, coordinate with sponsors, volunteers and marshalls, among others.
Whichever the case, organisers never offer a refund, because the money has already been spent printing the running tees and making the medals, among others.
No matter what the organisers choose to do – whether to cancel, to postpone, or to proceed – there will always be people who would oppose the decision. Some people still wanted to run in spite of the haze; some people would beg for postponement so that they can still run but in better weather conditions; some people would just say “give me my medal so that I can forget about this event and move on.” Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. However some organisers handle the difficult situation well; some… well, some don’t seem to know what they should be doing.
In this case, one prime example is the Mizuno Wave Run.
Organised by World of Sports, the only information provided about Mizuno Wave Run was on the World of Sports’ Facebook Page. The organisers did not create a new Facebook Page just for this event, nor a website to promote it. Of course it was publicized on myraceonline.com, but updates were uploaded obscurely onto their commercial Facebook Page which overlapped with their own product promotions.
With the haze still (literally) hanging over our heads, it was understandably difficult to decide whether to cancel or to postpone the event during the days leading up to the event; but the organisers still chose to go ahead with the race pack collection. The information on the website stated that the race pack collection would be at World of Sports in Paradigm Mall, but in our registration confirmation that was email to us, it was changed to World of Sports in The Curve.
Of course, logically, participants should check their confirmation slip carefully for the latest information, so we can’t really fault the organisers for not making a blaring announcement of the change of the venue for the race pack collection. After all, they did provide the info on the slip. This was of course assuming that the runners had not printed their confirmation slip immediately after registration before the change in location, which some runners do (myself included)… and might miss the change of venue.
It was only the night before the event that due to the worsening haze, the organisers decided that they could not proceed with the event. I did not have a problem with that. What I did have a problem with was the way they could not come to a decision.
They announced that because the race packs had already been collected, they could not offer a refund.
First, they announced that the run was cancelled, and that participants had to go to the venue (at Putrajaya) to collect their entitlements, which included the finisher medals.
Many participants complained that it was too far to travel, and that the organisers should allow the medal pick-up at the same place as the race pack collection. So the organisers released another announcement saying that participants can collect their entitlements on Monday.
Then because many participants had begged for postponement instead of cancellation, the organisers decided – at the 11th hour – to postpone instead of cancel, so NO medals would be distributed anywhere.
It was extremely frustrating, because we didn’t know what the latest decision would be! Andrew first shared with our run group about the cancellation, and suggested that we all meet at Putrajaya to collect the finisher medals, because he had only seen the first announcement. We hadn’t seen the second announcement, otherwise we would have decided not to go to Putrajaya and just collect the medals from The Curve outlet.
It was very fortunate that I decided to check Facebook before I went to bed that night, because that was when I saw the latest announcement of the postponement, and told everyone NOT to go to Putrajaya because nothing was going to happen. But because the announcement was very late, I was very sure that many people missed the announcement! Most people having seen the earlier announcements, would have assumed that was the final decision. If I hadn’t checked out Facebook myself, my friends and I would have gone all the way to Putrajaya (which was quite a distance for many of us), only to find that it had been a total waste of everyone’s time!
While I am glad that they did their best to notify the participants of the latest decision, I did not like the way it could not be made decisively. I was not the only one who was irritated. Nay; some of the runners were furious!
We have been waiting for the announcement of the new date of the run. But to date, no updates have been provided. They did not even survey for a new date, like some organisers have.
So until now, as of this blogpost date… no updates, no announcements, no surveys. I am not sure if the run would even take place, and whether we would ever get our registration money’s worth.
This isn’t the worst handling of a run cancellation/postponement (I have heard HRDF Half Marathon was even worse); but just because there are worse organisers doesn’t make this behaviour acceptable. We really expected much more from the organisers, because Mizuno and World of Sports are supposed to be reputable companies.
I guess all we can do now is wait.