Somehow the folks at the for-profit Competitor Group Inc. couldn't find it in their hearts to even mention their deaths on the Raleigh Rock 'n' Roll Marathon's official website. A story about a Biggest Loser star running in one of its races merited a story. But the deaths of two runners at its event is apparently not significant enough.
That's quite an insult to the families of those two men.
After intending to write an aftermath blog post shortly after the race, I waited a few days out of respect for those two runners. The wait has led to even more reasons to write.
What is the source of the money "benefiting" the V Foundation?
The big banner at the start/finish line proclaimed on the right side that the race is "benefiting The V Foundation." That was only one a few curious parts of the lead paragraph of Competitor Group's official story on the race:
RALEIGH, N.C.—Under clear skies and cool temperatures, dominated the field at the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon & ½ Marathon presented by WRAL benefiting The V Foundation for Cancer Research.It's obviously a template that the Competitor Group uses for all of its races. Whoever plugged in the information forgot to place winner Paul Himberger's name before the word dominated. (Gee, if it was a close race, they'd actually have to edit it!) And, no, it wasn't cool. It was a fairly hot day, with temperatures pushing into the 70s. I guess hiring better PR people might cut into profits.
The part that made me skeptical? The end of the sentence that says "benefiting The V Foundation for Cancer Research" made me wonder. I immediately was curious because it didn't say "proceeds benefiting." I was suspicious about whether Competitor Group actually would write a check to the Foundation that would cut into its profits or, more likely, the money that went to the Foundation was entirely from money raised by runners.
After News & Observer writer Colin Campbell wrote this story in Tuesday's paper, I emailed him to urge him to look into that. My argument? It was in the public interest considering all of the tax money the county's tourism agency, the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, gave (and will continue to give) Competitor Group.
Campbell replied that he would look into it. I certainly may not have been the only one who suggested that it was worth checking. But on the front page of Friday's N&O, his reporting confirmed my suspicions: Competitor Group isn't giving a penny to the Foundation. The money the Foundation gets from the race indeed only comes from money raised by runners, who receive free race entry when they raise $500 for the Foundation. Those free entries represent Competitor Group's only sacrifice for the charity. That is a big deal for those runners considering that the Rock 'n' Roll races are overpriced. It's a minor blip to Competitor Group's bottom line.
Among the main points in the story:
And I really appreciated how the story contrasted the Rock 'n' Roll model with the one used by other local races:
It would be nice if the News & Observer actually covering the Tobacco Road Marathon, which it hasn't done the past 2 years. It will cover City of Oaks since the newspaper is a race sponsor. It took the Rock 'n' Roll folks kicking up controversy for The N&O finally to report about TRM donating $100,000 for charity. But at least it was reported.
Prize money also cuts into profits! When I won the Grandmasters (50+) division at last September's Asheville Citizen-Times City Marathon, the award came with a $300 check. Considering how much money the Competitor Group makes from races, you would expect nice prize money for its races. But you'd be wrong.
The overall male and female winners in the Raleigh Rock 'n' Roll Marathon only got $500. Second-place finishers earned $250 and third-place finishers earned $100. I was nowhere near the top 10 in Asheville, but I earned more than the second-place overall finishers in Competitor's marathon.
It's all about profits.
If any are runners still are interested in running one of the Raleigh Rock 'n' Roll Marathon races next April, more power to you. I'll stay away just like I did this year and instead support good, locally run races.
I'm glad that, thanks to The N&O's reporting, Competitor won't get away with creating the perception that it is donating some of its money to The V Foundation.
Yes, there is a difference between a "half-marathon" and a "marathon"The worst part of the reporting after the race obviously was that two runners sadly died during the half-marathon. But also very irritating was how most of the Triangle media didn't seem to know the difference between a half-marathon and a marathon.
WRAL, the race sponsor, repeatedly got this wrong. The first screen image is from WRAL's news on Fox 50, the second is from one of WRAL's 6 o'clock newscasts and the third is from a WTVD newscast. They were "half-marathon deaths," not:
I fully realize that there are a lot of non-runners who may not know the difference. A few months ago, I had a co-worker tell me his wife had run a marathon. I asked which race it was and he said it was a 5K. I understand that people can easily confuse a half-marathon with a marathon. But these are journalist and this is a basic reporting error.
A much-less egregious error? Some in the media alternated between getting the AP style of "half-marathon" correct and incorrectly spelling it "half marathon." It's not that difficult.
Enough about this Rock 'n' Roll race! I'm off to Fayetteville on May 4 to run the inaugural All-American Marathon, which is run by local folks.