Those kinds of shenanigans have to take a toll on the quality of the “experience.” Of course, on Wednesday, it didn’t look as if there was any “experience” to be had. So, let’s look at the good with the bad.
On Wednesday morning, Reed Street Productions (RSP) contacted their course management team in Phoenix to let them know that the race was cancelled and instructed them to pack up the semi-trailer and wait for further instructions. After the trailer was packed, they received another call to and discovered that they had been laid off and it was on them to settle their hotel bills and get back to Baltimore.
On Thursday morning, Human Movement Management (HMM) called the former RSP staffers to let them know that they would be arriving later that night and that the race was back on. HMM would be covering their bills and the RSP staffers would stay on to help ensure that the race would be true to the RFYL experience. There was a massive flurry of activity all-day Friday which culminated in a successful fire/safety inspection on Saturday morning at 0600 (kudos to the County inspectors who were up that early).
There were some casualties from this last minute scramble. The infrastructure for an obstacle race was largely absent. There were no showers or bag check tents. The power for the make-up station came from the ranch house, resulting in an awkward outage when two make-up artists tried to use their hair dryers simultaneously.
But the friendly and helpful attitude of both the staff and the racers more than made up for any shortfalls. All runners and zombies who registered under the RSP version of the race were able to run for free – even if their bank refunded the money. They did not solicit funds to make up for the losses they took for putting on the race. Those who asked to donate money* to HMM were simply thanked and told that they could “repay” HMM by telling their friends or registering for one of their upcoming races. The runners and zombies who showed up were grateful that HMM came in to salvage the event and this attitude contributed to a communal sense of friendliness.
*Editor’s note: In case you didn’t catch it, racers were offering donations to HMM. People who had been let down without refunds were willing to give money to Human Movement Management to show their appreciation.
The course itself was a bit short of inspiring. It measured a little less than three miles and had seven obstacles. The course was mostly packed dirt road and the obstacles were simple enough for anyone to get through without help. There were no water obstacles on the course and whatever mud they had planned dried up before the race began. The course was well-marked, as HMM brought out their banners and signage from their “The Zombie Race” property.
The water and aid stations were well-spaced, but had minimal staffing. The most obvious casualty of RSP’s cancellation was the number of volunteers. The MC asked those who were running in later waves to consider volunteering on the course and some of those folks were gracious enough to do so.
There wasn’t one. This was a rescue operation, pure and simple. The HMM staff had lined up a beer sponsor, but did not receive the liquor permit in time. None of the bands showed and there didn’t seem to be enough power there to run a bunch of amps, lights, etc. There was ample music over the loudspeakers and the ranchers ran a small concession stand for breakfast and lunch.
For those interested in swag, there were t-shirts from “The Zombie Race” series for all participants.
Human Movement Management lived up to their great reputation and held a quality event under unprecedented circumstances. Watching them work throughout the morning, it was apparent that this company knows how to stage events and that their staff produced amazing work under adverse circumstances. My group had a great time and will look for opportunities to sign up for another HMM run in the near future.
Bill Murphy is computer security analyst who works part-time in the Naval Reserves. He refuses to run more than a mile unless there is some sort of mud, blood or electricity or high wall on the course. His deployment blog can be found at http://iscmurphy.blogspot.com/
In a surprising turn of events, Reed Street Productions sent out this email today to their customer database.
Attention, you are receiving this email as official information confirming that Run For Your Lives events have been cancelled. The inaccurate information you have been receiving regarding another company putting on this event is both misleading and misrepresented. Run For Your Lives assets – including but not limited to communication channels – have been illegally acquired, used and controlled. Further, deceitful information is being used to confuse current ticket holders – further contributing to any refund improbability. Accurate information cannot be found by contacting this other entity – and they are blocking any comments on social channels from people with complaints or concerns – populating these channels with selective praise from few participants and their employee’s. We are sorry they are further hurting your situation with such illegal and inaccurate information – solely for their financial benefit.
We at ORM are unclear at this point the motives behind this statement. Especially considering Run For Your Lives were quoted in the Baltimore Sun just a few days ago agreeing to allow HMM to take over.
If you read the latest from the RFYL Facebook page, consumers who were at this past weekend’s events appear to be taking the side of Human Movement Management.