This morning many woke up in the obstacle racing community to news of a cancellation of an upcoming Conquer the Gauntlet event in Lubbock, Texas. The typically highly regarded obstacle race shocked the OCR world with the cancellation and news that no refunds would be issued. The local news station KCBD picked up the story after participants received an email from race organizers.
Articles about the announcement and what this means for the OCR community are already making their way through social media this morning and many are wondering how a reputable company could make such a cancellation and not refund registrations. Since the initial announcement Mud Run Guide has learned that Conquer the Gauntlet has set up an event transfer marketplace on Facebook for those affected by the cancelation. This morning Mud Run Guide was sent an official statement from the owner of Conquer the Gauntlet, David Mainprize.
Statement from David of Conquer the Gauntlet – Lubbock Cancellation
This is David Mainprize, owner of Conquer The Gauntlet. I am going to try to explain the Lubbock cancellation situation to the best of my ability and if anyone has questions, feel free to post them or ask me privately. I will do my best to get back with each of you; my schedule is very hectic right now, so bear with me.
As many of you know, we started CTG in December 2011, with nothing but an idea and the passion, skills, and energy to try to make it happen. We sold some old car parts our dad had sitting around and convinced our friend to build us a website for $500. We set up the first course out of the back of my brother’s 1993 four-door sedan with borrowed tools (again, thanks, Dad). I could go on, but the point is we don’t have billionaires behind us, we don’t have investors, and we don’t have trust funds or any cash just sitting around. All revenue brought in from the registrations of each race is used to make that race happen, if there is any left over after the event then we pay ourselves enough to live on until the next event, often times there is not. I’m not going to go into extreme detail here, but hosting a big time OCR event is immensely expensive- venue, insurance, shirts, medals, bibs, timing, waters, rentals, staff, hotels, food, graphic design, web design- you’re looking at a huge number and that just scratching the surface of hard, fixed costs to hold the event. Then you’ve got a laundry list of variable costs, including the ever-looming marketing budget. Then there are all the costs for when things go wrong- floods, theft, equipment breakage, lawsuits, etc. not to even mention all the other regular overhead that a business has, such as warehousing, internet, electricity, etc.
OCRs and recreational events in general are fun for those attending them, and they should be, but for those hosting and building them, they are hundreds of thousands of hours of labor and stress, blood, sweat and tears, and they are how house payments are made, children are fed, student loans are paid, etc. They are our livelihood. Ask any insider and they will tell you that it is very hard to make money hosting these events; ask any of the thousands of race companies that have gone out of business.
At the end of the day, there are only three options for any event- it makes money, it breaks even, or it loses money. We pride ourselves in bringing an incredible and affordable OCR event to an area of the country where those events do not otherwise exist. Last year was our first year in Lubbock, and there was a very promising turnout, but we still took a loss hosting the event in hopes to build a base of customers and increase our numbers in 2016, as has happened at all other cities where we have held events. We held an awesome event and opened registration immediately for the 2016 Lubbock event and have been marketing the event ever since. Instead of growing, the numbers and interest level in Lubbock exponentially dwindled. I’m not going to get into a detailed discussion about SEO, impressions, click-through rates, remarketing ads, conversion rates, and customer acquisition costs, but suffice it to say that people in Lubbock did not respond to CTG or OCR. We can theorize about the what and why of it, but it’s a reality we cannot change. We as a company take the blame for that, but at the end of the day, the implications are a reality that we cannot magically avoid.
We are not choosing to cancel the Lubbock race on a whim or just for fun; that choice was made for us by the lack of registrations. There was simply no money to hold the event. When faced with these facts, the choice was either to cancel the event or attempt to hold the event and bankrupt the entire company. Obviously, the cancellation of the event was and is the only tenable option.
This brings us to the issue of the refund policy. The “no refund” policy is a standard policy for any event- concert, festival, road race, etc. I have personally lost money by purchasing tickets for festivals, concerts, and a road race that were canceled and no refunds were issued and I was given no backup options. The “no refund” policy is also an industry wide standard policy within OCR. This policy is there on every OCR website for a reason- tens of thousands of dollars have to be spent to make an event happen and even get it on the schedule. If a company finds itself having to cancel an event, they’ve already lost a large sum of money. If that company has to turn around and refund registrations after that loss, they are likely going to start canceling other events and go out of business. Yes, some companies with deep pockets have given out refunds on rare occasion, but unfortunately we do not have that luxury in this situation. No one at CTG is keeping Lubbock registration money, as has been stated by some, that money was spent long ago. It’s gone. I would love nothing more than to be able to refund these registrations, but outside of robbing a bank or printing money, I don’t know how to make that happen.
As for those who were registered for the Lubbock race, they have each been contacted and given very reasonable options for moving forward. All those registered for the Lubbock race were immediately given a registration voucher to be used at any future CTG race in any city at any time at absolutely no cost. This is also an industry standard response. In fact, almost all of the Lubbock registrants were very understanding of the situation and have transferred to our Dallas or OKC races without issue. Registrants also, of course, have the option to sell their registration to someone in another city who wishes to run a CTG. To facilitate this, we have created the Conquer The Gauntlet Entry Transfer Marketplace on Facebook.
On behalf of CTG, I want to extend a heartfelt apology to the OCR community. Hindsight is always 20/20, but perhaps if we had worked a little harder, planned a little better, or communicated with more precision we could have prevented this situation from happening. Anyone who has attended our events knows the amount of passion we have for this sport, the love we have for our runners, the work we put into every facet of CTG. This situation will only strengthen our resolve moving forward. Registrations are very strong in all our remaining cities this year. The Des Moines, Louisville, Tulsa, and Little Rock events are happening WITHOUT QUESTION. We will absolutely be there and hope to see you there.
Conquer The Gauntlet is not just something we do, it’s a way of life for us, it’s who we are. We will continue to give our all to providing quality events at an affordable price. We will not be stopped and we will never give up. Again, if you have questions, please let me know or contact us at email@example.com.
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