By HPRS Race Director “Sherpa” John Lacroix
The Human Potential Running Series has a strict “no-refunds” policy. This policy has been enacted for a number of reasons, some of which we’ll talk about in this post. As our next race, The Tommyknocker 12-Hour and Mine Shaft Half, inches ever closer; this is the pre-race timeframe where we receive the most requests (and sometimes demands) for refunds from those of you who are no longer planning to attend. I wanted to take a moment to review our refund and credit policies, explain a little bit about why they are in place, and also highlight some of the other policies for similar events here in Colorado.
During the online registration process on ultrasignup, the very first question we ask you to answer is one regarding our refund and credit policies. There is only one answer to this question that you must select before being allowed to continue with the registration process, and that answer is “YES.” By selecting yes, you are acknowledging your understanding of the policy, and agreeing to adhere to it; though let’s be real.. few of us ever really read the fine print. That first question reads as follows:
You acknowledge that it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with Human Potential LLC’s policies, including and not limited to our refund and race credit policy, and that NO EXCEPTIONS are to be made. You acknowledge, now and forever, that there are no refunds of entry fees for any reason. You also acknowledge, now and forever, that credits are only given on a case by case basis as outlined in the race policies on our website and no exceptions are made? HPRS Policies are located on the web at this address: http://humanpotentialrunning.com/race-policies/ By clicking ‘YES’ Below, you acknowledge all of the above and that you know where to find our policies and that it is your responsibility, solely, to read them in their entirety.
Yet in the final weeks leading up to literally every single race we host, I get a whole slew of emails from folks requesting, hoping for, or even demanding a refund. I can promise you that demanding a refund is the last way you’ll actually get one. I was delighted this week to receive two emails from runners who actually read, and understand, our policies on their way to asking for a credit for races in July they can no longer attend; which made the entire process really enjoyable and my ability to help them out seamless.
Why do we have a no refund policy?
Many believe that races don’t spend any money on hosting the event until the final week or so of the race, or after the race concludes. While it is true that race food isn’t purchased until the final days prior to the event, and it is true that shirts are ordered and paid for 2 weeks out, and the same for awards, these are just a few of the expenses associated with putting on a race. I implore you to please be mindful of every aspect of hosting an event like this, and take a moment to educate yourselves about all of the tasks associated with it.
Registration for the each of our events opens on December 1st of the previous year. So registration for all 2019 HPRS races opened on December 1, 2018. The only exceptions are if a new race is added later on, or Sawmill Trail Runs which opens to coincide with membership every October. Then the work begins in earnest, and it costs money to run a business and make a race happen.
Insurance for all of our races is purchased in December of the prior year. So insurance for 2019’s races was purchased in December 2018. The insurance policy is priced on our best guestimate of how many runners, volunteers, and spectators will attend. We also need umbrella insurance to cover our butts throughout the year regardless of if a race is happening or not. I’m sure you can imagine how expensive insurance is, especially for 10-races, for a business like this.
We need to order porta potties for all of our races, and those potties typically require either a deposit be made, or payment in full.
We need to promote the race in the hopes of gaining interest in it, and finding more folks to run along side you. We spend money on ad space through Facebook, Instagram, Trailrunner Magazine, and Ultrarunning Magazine. We also print card stock and posters for local running stores. We also buy hats in the hopes you’ll purchase one to improve our brand recognition in the world, so we’re sitting on un-sold inventory as well.
HPRS has a lot of race supplies that spend most of their time lounging inside a storage space (also costs money to rent) that then gets used, and HARD. We are always replacing and repairing race related infrastructure. This is a cost associated with doing this kind of business.
We have to obtain permits to host our events regardless of where they take place. A race like Tommyknocker requires just one permit, while Indian Creek requires 4 permits from 4 different land managers, and permission to play through from one other. Each race is different, but those permit applications include a lot of information, such as a detailed operating plan that includes: logistical specifics of where each aid station will be, where each porta potty will be, where each volunteer will be and how many, what will be at each aid station, how much water we are bringing and how are we bringing it, what and how are we cooking, where everyone is parking, traffic mitigation on roads we impact, a complete event timeline that includes where the RD can be located at specific times during the race, a detailed map of the entire course, detailed site maps that indicate where everything is at each individual aid station as well as the start/finish, and on and on and on. Then we typically have to pay a percentage of the predicted total cost of the permit up front.
We also have to carefully craft a detailed Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that details how we will respond in the event of ANY emergency including: injuries, level 1 trauma, evacuation for any reason, forest fires, severe weather, and more. As you can imagine.. permit applications are very time consuming. The EAP and Operating plans are NOT cookie cutter like many suspect, as conditions and situations change from year to year.
There is a cost associated with doing business and being in business. I hope that you may also consider that what you are paying for when you register for a race is for a race director to manage risk, and assume all liability, for you on race day regardless of if you’ve signed a waiver or not. When a race sells out for 200 runners, sure.. it’s a glorious moment for an RD. I also face the reality that I will be responsible for 200 runners, plus a whole army of volunteers, and a horde of spectators, on race day. It is a huge responsibility as is something I consider when pricing an event.
Yes, bibs are ordered a month out, shirts and awards are ordered 2 weeks out, and food is purchased the week of. These are the easy things that we do as event planning is winding down; but much of the costs associated with a race have been realized well in advance of the event ever taking place. Managing the logistics, and promotion, of 10 races is a full time job, and a job that is handled by one person at HPRS. There isn’t another ultra series of this size in our country that is handled by a single individual; all the rest have a staff. This is my full time job and my livelihood and yes, that means I get compensated for all of the work I do to make these events happen for you. My yearly salary is modest, and you would be aghast if I told you what it breaks down to hourly. Simply put and honestly.. I also need to eat.
Humor me for a moment…
Imagine if your boss put you on a major project to plan an event for 200 people, and for months (like, 6 months) you work tirelessly to see that project through and the event a success. Then in the final weeks or days leading up to the event you’ve worked countless hours on, your boss approaches you and says, “Hey.. we’ve decided we’re not going to have that event anymore so.. we need you to stop working on it for us, and we also need you to refund us all of the money we’ve paid you to date for your work.” How would you react to that? Would you give them your salary back? Would you be pissed? Would you find it within the best graces of your heart and soul to say, “Yeah.. no problem! I get it.. all the work I did to date is for nothing since we’re not hosting it so.. yeah, here ya go. Full refund! I love you!”
I’m willing to bet there isn’t a single one of you reading this would be okay with putting in hundreds of hours of work into an event, and just because it’s not happening anymore, would you be comfortable giving your hard earned pay days back… or even a percentage of it back. This is the reality of asking an RD for a refund. Most of the work is already done and that fact, as well as the expenses associated with that fact, do not change when you decide to withdraw from a race.
Races have a no refund policy, not only because most of the work is done months in advance, but as a protective measure to ensure the preservation of an event. We know you’re bummed, we know you hate being out the money. We’re equally as bummed for you, but many of the expenses have already been expended in the planning, advertising, and preparation for a race for the many months leading up to it. I humbly ask you to please respect our hard work by not requesting a refund.
What is everyone’s refund/credit policies?
Here are a few examples from here in Colorado..
North Fork Trail Race: Entries are non-refundable and non-transferable and cannot be rolled to a future year.
Collegiate Peaks: Fees are non-refundable, non-transferable & substitutions not permitted.
Leadville: No refunds. You can request to defer your entry to next year’s race, and there is a deferral fee (unknown). You can use your deferral to register for next year’s race so long as registration is open and not sold out. If registration is closed or the event is sold out, you lose your deferral.
Dirty 30: No Refunds. In the event you are not able to race you will be given the opportunity to defer your entry to the following year only, according to the schedule below:
• Before Jan. 31, 2019 100%
• Feb. 1 – April 30, 2019 50%
• After April 30, 2019 0%
Dirty 30 also has a pregnancy deferral policy, and a policy which allows you to transfer to a different race so long as space allows.
Mad Moose Events: No Refunds. No refunds in the event of cancellation. If, after registering for the race, you are unable to attend, we will willingly transfer your race credit to any future Mad Moose Event. The dollar amount, that we will transfer, will be determined by the length of notice given. In order to get the credit you must go into UltraSignUp and cancel your registration. It will issue a credit into your account for any future Mad Moose Event.
• If you notify us prior to 60 days before the race, you are eligible for a 100% rollover.
• If you notify us prior to 30 days before the race- a 75% rollover or will be issued.
• If you let us know up to 15 days prior to the event- a 50% rollover can be applied.
• Within 15 days of the event- no rollovers will be issued.
GNAR Runners: No Refunds. (Quad Rock as an example) As long as there are runners on the wait list, we offer race transfer credits according to the following schedule:
• Until April 15: 75% credit of registration fee (excluding Ultrasignup fees).
• April 16–May 4: 50% credit of registration fee (excluding Ultrasignup fees).
• Credits may be applied to any future Gnar Runners race and will be valid for 12 months.
If we do not have runners on the wait list available to accept a transfer entry, then unfortunately we will not be able to offer transfers or credits.
As you can see, it is the industry standard that no refunds are given. Each race handles credits, transfers, and deferrals differently with some having no credit, transfer or deferral policy at all. It is ultimately your responsibility to familiarize yourself with each race’s policies before you sign up; and yes, we want you to hold yourselves accountable on this front. No race offers a refund. Sure, you can ask for one and maybe you’ll get lucky.. but demanding one will get you nowhere.
HPRS’s policies are as follows:
NO REFUNDS will be issued under any circumstances.
Human Potential will gladly provide runners a 75% credit (excluding ultrasignup fees) via Ultrasignup.com for use towards a future Human Potential Running Series race if notified in writingto info@HumanPotentialRunning.com (not Facebook, Twitter, or text message) 60 days or more out from the registered event. Runners may withdraw from a race for any reason during this time and receive the 75% credit providing they follow the above procedure. At the race director’s discretion, within 60 and 30 days out from the event, a 50% credit (excluding ultrasignup fees) may be provided in case of injury (with doctor’s note) or family emergency (with appropriate documentation). No credits will be given less than (30 Days) out from an event for any reason. All Credits will only be good for one year from date of issuance. There are NO REFUNDS under any circumstances.
No selling of entries is permitted. No refunds or credits will be provided for dropping down in race distance. Those who move UP in race distance, will be charged the difference for doing so.
We understand that issues arise at the last minute that can prevent a runner from arriving at the start line. We incur most costs early on in the planning process, and this policy represents our ability to reasonably provide something to runners who cannot attend, while keeping our entry fees low and quality high. Our refund and credit policy is non-negotiable and aligns with the industry standard.
BIB TRANSFER POLICY:
Bib Transfers are allowed under the following conditions ONLY. The runner you transfer your entry to will be charged a $20 transfer fee. You, the original registrant, must contact HPRS in writing to info@HumanPotentialRunning.com (not Facebook or Twitter message) and CC the individual who you are transferring your entry to no less than two weeks (14 days) prior to the race (non-negotiable). The transferred runner will be given a code to register for the event at the $20 rate. Additional Ultrasignup.com processing fees will be applied.
If a race should sell-out and/or a wait list be implemented, the transferring of bibs will no longer be an eligible option.
You may NOT transfer your bib to another runner AND receive race credits towards a future race or vice versa.
PREGNANCY DEFERRAL POLICY:
Should you register for a race and then become pregnant following your registration and prior to race day; you are welcome to defer your entry to a future edition of the same race if you wish. To obtain the deferral, please send a Pregnancy Deferral Request to us at info@HumanPotentialRunning.com up to 30 days prior to the race, and include written confirmation of your pregnancy signed by a physician, registered midwife, or other medical professional. We reserve the right to require additional proof of pregnancy and may reject a deferral request if the documentation verifying pregnancy is deemed insufficient. Women who obtain a Pregnancy Entry Deferral will be granted automatic entry into any one of the next two editions of the same race after the initial year deferred. If a woman becomes pregnant again during a Pregnancy Entry Deferral period, she may request another Pregnancy Entry Deferral. This would permit her to defer her race entry for the two-year period allowed by the most recent Pregnancy Entry Deferral request. Should for some unforeseen circumstance the race deferred from is cancelled or no longer exists, the deferral will then be good (and only then) for any other HPRS race of equal distance or lesser value. No refund of entry fees will be administered under any circumstance.
Furthermore, we also welcome Pregnancy Complications Deferral requests from significant others (male, female, or other) of pregnant individuals who experience pregnancy complications. The same rules as above will apply to the significant other with regards to a deferral request with written confirmation of complications signed by a physician, registered midwife, or other medical professional; with the exception that this type of deferral may be requested no less than 15 days out from the registered race.
An individual can be granted no more than two deferral requests.
WEATHER RELATED REFUNDS & CREDITS:
In the event a race is cancelled due to extreme weather, fire, or some other unforeseeable event, we cannot offer refunds or credits. ANY race can be cancelled, postponed, or ended early by the Race Director, or any of our associated land manager(s). Those decisions will be made based on an in depth risk management assessment conducted by the race director and/or land manager(s), and with the overall safety of all involved (runners, pacers, crews, spectators, volunteers, etc) in mind. We understand these difficult decisions may not be the most popular with all involved, but the decision will be made with the proper risk management considerations in mind.