Dear Runners,

We have a duty to ourselves and our local running communities.

Stop registering for races that are notoriously crappy year after year.

This reminds me of my relationship with the Cubs. I’m a lifelong Cubs fan, and attended many games throughout my life. But lately, the Cubs have been doing terrible. Summer after summer. Just terrible.

I decided to stop supporting such a crappy team. So I “broke up” with the Cubs. I stopped buying tickets. They still suck, and it seems like other people are with me and also not giving the Cubs money. They were practically giving tickets away during the last few weeks this season. And money talks. So hopefully Cubs management makes serious changes and things improve. And if that happens, then I’ll come back. If not, then I’ll keep my money and spend it on worthwhile things.

Today was the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K in Chicago. I did not run it. I did not run this race last year. I did run it in 2010 though.

Hot Chocolate 2010 race on lakefront path near the Shedd Aquarium
Overcrowding during the 2010 Hot Chocolate. Source: Facebook

Why haven’t I been back?

Because, like the Cubs, I don’t want to spend money on a consistently inferior experience.

I race a lot. And the race fees add up. And there are SO MANY races out there to choose from. Every single weekend.

Why would I waste my money on a race that is notoriously bad? Not just in Chicago, but they royally messed up their race in DC last December.

And yet, 40,000 people did just that and ran the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K today.

I know some people had good experiences. And I know there are far far far worse things going on right now. I’ve seen comments on the HC FB page that say runners should “feel lucky that their race wasn’t canceled.” Not to mention all the devastation in New England that has nothing to do with the marathon. (And on that note, I am impressed by the volunteer efforts of the NYC marathoners in the wake of their cancelled race.)

But my humble blog can’t do much to have an effect on New England right now, so I’ll talk about what I know. And just because runners were lucky today that their race still went on, that doesn’t excuse the poor planning.

2012 Hot Chocolate Expo. Source: TooTallFritz.com

Because from what I read about this year’s Hot Chocolate … Crappy expo. Crappy race day. I’ve never seen so many recaps of just the race expo before, if that’s any indication. Not to mention the endless complaints on the HC Facebook page.

But the thing is, this is not the first time RAM Racing has put on this race. This is also not the first (or second) year that this race hasn’t gone well.

So, local running community, we owe it to ourselves to STOP REGISTERING FOR NOTORIOUSLY BAD RACES.

There will still be new runners who aren’t aware of the train-wreck that is the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, and I don’t blame them for signing up.

But veteran runners? Come on. You know better. What incentive does RAM Racing have to improve, if they are able to convince 40,000 people to shell out their hard-earned money for a sub-par event? None. And they won’t improve. Because every year, people complain. And for once, these are VALID complaints. And yet, the following year, thousands still register, and RAM still puts on a crappy race.

So please. You owe it to the running community. If we stop supporting crappy races and crappy race companies, hopefully they will stop putting on their crappy races. Either they will actually make an effort to improve (cap the number of runners to an amount they can safely accomodate, or hire someone who knows how to put on a safe race for 40K runners), or they will close up shop.

Who’s with me? Who promises to make 2013 the year we stop giving our money to race companies who have no respect for our time or safety? And instead, support the well done, deserving races that make an effort to actually put on worthwhile races? (Which is the majority of races.)