I learned a lot from the Zion Half Marathon this past March. As I have studied the running industry over the past few years, I have noticed that races in large part are pretty unsympathetic to the running community. In some cases, I think some races are downright abusive.
There is no clearer case that in the lack of a refund policy for runners at any major races. I my opinion, there is no good reason for this. I have heard from several race directors that they have to order shirts and medals so far in advance so they can’t offer a refund because the money is already spent.While I am sympathetic to this idea, I think it’s largely baloney.
You may not know this, but on average about 10% of all registered runners don’t show up for the race. Whether its an injury, a funeral, or they just chicken out, 10% are no shows. Most race directors account for this and order 10% fewer shirts than normal, to adjust for those who don’t show up. That means they make more money but it is abusive to their customers. Extremely long lead times in ordering SWAG was the case even a decade ago, but things have changed, and I don’t think the industry has.
For Zion I implemented a pretty generous refund policy. I think we can do even better. So here is the deal, I need to start ordering shirts and medals about 2 months before the race. So if you need to drop out of the race with more than 2 months before race day, I’ll give you your money back. (I do have to keep the $5 processing fee. Visa/Mastercard are not quite as nice as I am.)
At the 2 month mark, I’ll order shirts for everyone who has registered and everyone I think will register. If the race probably won’t sell out, then I’ll adjust the cap down to make sure everyone gets a shirt and medal.
After the 2 month mark, you can still get a 50% refund which should cover the cost of the shirt and medal. While finisher medals only go to those who run, I will be happy to send you your race shirt if you want.
You can request a 50% refund all the way up until the day before the race.
You can read the whole Rocky Mountain Half Refund Policy here.
I think this a really good thing and I hope other race companies will follow. You can register now with no risk. If your plans change(which they always do) then you are largely covered. Let me know what you think of the change in the comments below or on Facebook.