How not to run a race (The Blacklight Run) – 9/14/19

I understand and accept that no race is going to go off perfectly. As a RO/RD, you can plan for every eventuality, every contingency and even put pre-emptive Darwin Awards measures in place. But it won’t stop [X] from happening — specifically [X] that no one could ever think of happening. When something like that does happen, it really hasn’t been a big deal. They did everything right, and something out of their control just happened. HOWEVER, The Blacklight Run Chicago does not fall into that category.

To begin with, their ‘free’ race was not really free. This ‘free’ race registration required you to make a mandatory donation to a charity in addition to paying a facility fee. Quite odd to mandate this, as well as then charging you the registration percentage on it. But looking at it as a 5K for < $15, I went along with their process.

I had registered for both this race and a similar one that they did in May. I had believed it would be a very simple conversation about my guide, especially since it appeared that they wanted people there. If not, then why do a ‘free’ entry that kept getting pushed? However, it took me having to reach out to the Chicagoland Speedway before this RO got the message that the ADA needs to be followed. I’ve got the e-mail chain to show just how unhelpful their staff was initially. And then within a VERY short time of calling the Speedway, it was all resolved.

The next issue with this event was the parking. I remember seeing something early on from the RO along the lines of ‘Parking is $20 (cash). We have specifically told the tow companies to watch for people parking on side streets. You will be towed if you do.’ IMO, that sort of message smacks of bullying. But we went along with it. I’ll admit that I did get some satisfaction from handing them a bag of change to pay for the $20 BS parking.

As I had to do packet pickup that evening, we arrived in plenty of time. Once it started to get dark, we moved towards the starting area. As usual, we seeded ourselves far enough back to ensure that it could be a safe, good run. As they were sending people off in waves, I thought we’d be even better off.

However, things did not go well throughout the race. I would estimate that at least 90% of the people were walking. There were some others running, but they were having the same issues that we were. You would be able to run for about 150-200 feet and then a pocket of people walking across the ENTIRE path would stop your progress. I don’t have an issue with people walking. But the overwhelming percentage of people go with walk right, run left. So overall, we were able run about 1m total.

The Blacklight zones on the course were interesting, and lived up to what they were supposed to be. On the other hand, the aid station did not. To that point, every single aid station in the 100+ events (Tri and running) that I’ve done have had COLD beverage options, pre-set and ready for people to grab. Hell, even during the Half where I had horrible calf issues and we were beyond the race finish, there were still cold jugs of water for us to self-pour from. Last night, their idea of an ‘aid station’ was to set up empty cups on a table, then have you wait in line. When you got to the front of it, someone filled the cup with warm water from a garden hose. Utter, utter BS.

The final straw of the evening was how their staff acted post-race. I’ll admit that I was beyond pissed with the cummulative BS of the evening. When I talked to the Assistant RD, he said that (a) the RD was out on the course, (b) the RD wasn’t reachable and (c) I’d have to go through their ‘helpful’ CS team. Again, I’ve NEVER seen a situation where the RD is unreachable. I’m quite sure that Marconi didn’t just invent them today‚Ķ

I have already reached out to their CS for a FULL refund. And I’ve also contacted the SPeedway. I truly hope that the Chicagoland Speedway takes the appropriate actions to ensure that others don’t have to go through this absurdity. It was the Blacklight Walk, NOT the Blacklight Run. Had it been promoted as what it ruly was, I would not have wasted the almost $38 that I did.

Finally, if you want a well organized, fun and TRUE night run, I strongly suggest the GloRuns done by AllCommunityEvents. I believe Amita Health is the title sponsor for these races that are held across the country.