Understanding the cancellation of a race: 2019 Statesman Cap10K
Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Cap10K race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro by going to https://www.bibrave.com/bibravepro. Find more race reviews like this one at www.bibrave.com.
This past Sunday I was supposed to be participating in the 2019 Cap10K race in Austin, Texas. Unfortunately, the race was cancelled one hour prior to its start due to a weather front that brought severe weather to the area all morning long, in particular relentless thunderstorms and lightning.
Having an event like this cancelled is undoubtedly quite disappointing. Understandably so, the initial reaction most of us have is to be upset, after having trained for at least several weeks to be ready for the challenge and experience. By race day we have also typically spent some money on registration fees and perhaps on travel expenses such as lodging. I definitely did for this race, since I live more than a couple of hours away from Austin and had to go there the day before the race in order to pick up my packet and not have to worry about driving that much on race morning. Adding to that dissapointment, in the great majority of cases when races are cancelled, there are no refunds or postponements that might alleviate some of the sting.
However, all you have to do is stop and consider things carefully for just a minute or two and you begin to understand the reasoning behind the cancellation and further, why there can't be refunds or postponements.
1 - Participant safety has to be the top priority, far above and beyond any loss of time and money. You simply cannot gamble with a lightning storm and put lives at risk for the sake of holding a sporting event, plain and simple. As much as we may love the sport, when there is such danger around us, we need to be wise and make a conscious decision to be safe instead.
2 - Large races such as the Cap10K have to incur and spend thousands if not millions of dollars to acquire key resources such as post-race food and entertainment, shirts, bibs, medals, on course hydration, rental of building space for Expo, and pre and post-race areas and facilities, just to name a few.
All those are things that have to be obtained and contracted for ahead of time and cannot be returned for refunds, whether the race is cancelled or not. Therefore, the race simply cannot afford to refund registration fees to participants. Literally each and every race I have ever participated in has clearly stated during the registration process that sign-up fees are non-refundable for this exact reason.
3 - A giant part of organizing a road race like this is coordinating the manpower with hundreds of volunteers and city officials and personnel such as police for road closures and safety. Those are aspects that can't just be easily rescheduled for another weekend a few weeks or even months later when a cancellation is needed.
Something that a race can definitely do to help alleviate a situation with a weather front like the one we experienced this weekend in Austin is to keep participants informed by being proactive and posting updates on social media and on its website. I feel the Cap10K race directors did an excellent job of this, literally alerting us on Saturday afternoon about the following weather advisory through Social Media and on its website:
Thanks to those updates, I was able to stay informed and prepared mentally for the possibility of delays or cancellation. On race morning I noticed the announcement on both the event website and on their Facebook page, literally the minute in which the race was cancelled.
Again, even though it is dissappointing, I much prefer this than to be waiting around confused by unexplained delays and not knowing what may be happening, or even worse, exposed to unsafe conditions that I may not be aware of. So kudos to the Cap10K race director and organizers, I appreciate you staying on top of things, keeping us informed, and making our safety your top priority; hoping we have better weather for a successful race in 2020.