[March 22, 2020] First, a thank you to all the people who have sent emails or posted comments on social media about the race. This is a community, and nothing reinforces that more than the outpouring of support and encouragement not just for us, but for our community partners, and for each other. You have brightened an otherwise dark day for us.
Second, we hear and understand the questions about the refund amount. We hope our long and rambling emails, full of parenthetical side notes, song references, and general musings have conveyed our commitment to bringing you right along with our thought process on almost every aspect of this event. So let's do the same for the refund question.
Basically we're hearing two forms of questioning/criticism, first that there are other races that cancelled and gave a full refund or a deferral; and second that there are other races that postponed or offered transfer to another event. If those options were possible for the Seneca7 we would have done them, but they are not and here's why:
- Of course postponing the race was our favored option (behind actually having it on the actual date!). There was no way we wanted to miss out on the fun that would have been the 10th anniversary! We've been pumping ourselves (and you) up so much for this--it's a huge letdown to miss out on it. We spent the past two weeks working the logistics and different scenarios, but it just didn't work. Our event is a 77.77 mile four-county bonanza run partially on state highways and involving village, city, county, and state police support (not to mention a 45 page NYS "multi-county speed contest" permit which requires sign off from every municipality we pass through (there are 26 independent jurisdictions that must be contacted for approval)). We have 20 exchange points that require coordination and approval of the property owner, the surrounding neighbors whose Sunday morning peace is disturbed, and a volunteer group trained in DOT practices for on-road assistance. We have to develop a safety plan and set of procedures for the State regarding the presence of runners (and bicycles) observing all laws and rules of the road. In short, this is not your neighborhood 5K, or even a half-marathon running event. So that comparison, in our view, is apples-to-oranges.
- We are an independent, community-based event. We don't have other races we can transfer you to, and referring back to item #1, the Seneca7 is when it is precisely because that is when all entities involved have determined it *can* happen--safely and responsibly. We can't push it into a season of heavier vehicle traffic or plop it down on a day that there are already other events in the area. If you've ever attended an event at the Watkins Glen International Track, or been in the area when an event is going on there, you'll know that Rte. 14 comes to a complete and total standstill. There are events beyond just the wine trail that we need to consider when we look at the calendar. So, we can't just pick another date and hope for the best. (For those of you asking for a bikes-only fall event, we have talked about that in the past and haven't been able to find a suitable date, but we do love the idea).
- We don't buy cheap stuff. We don't know how else to say that. If you've done the race before you'll know that the course guide always featured a page on local products and our race ethos, which includes our shirts are made in the USA by a company named Recover, printed locally by *one* screenprinter (with arms of Thor) using environmentally-sensitive inks. These aren't the $5/shirt bulk orders of many corporate events. The race bibs are also made in the US, custom printed with your team name using a soy-based ink so they can be fully recycled (if you don't keep them as a souvenir). We try to run a zero waste event, using all compostable serviceware, and avoiding plastic as much as possible. These are intentional choices that we make and that we hope are at least some part of the reason you choose our race over other relays. So, our investment in supplies is substantial.
- We give to the community. We build into our race budget support for all the community partners that help this event run. For the most part these are small organizations with no national affiliate to provide additional support. In other words, they depend on this event as part of their budget and as you might imagine, their need is only increasing as the community's needs increase at this time. It's part of what we do. If you are hurting and need additional funds returned to you, please let us know and we will make that happen--but it will come from *us*, not from them.
- A refund is not required. We use all of our own software for registration, team management, and race tracking, but we are sanctioned by USATF just like most other running events. When you sign up with us, or with those other programs like RunSignUp or Active, it is made clear that there are no refunds-- you enter at your own risk. We actually allow refunds, minus your deposit, up until the time we place all of our final orders. But that time has passed, and at that time we thought we were still having our event. This cancellation is beyond all of our control and if we had gotten to race morning and were shut down by the State, or the weather, we would have been in the same position and perhaps the reason why a 'no refund' policy is standard would be clearer. But we *are* offering at least a partial refund, because we feel it's the right thing to do.
For all of those reasons, we arrived at the policy that you received. We didn't pull a number out of a hat and we don't approach anything in this race without a lot of thought and careful consideration. This event has lived for 10 years through the collective effort and good will of the community that supports it, and that includes every one of our participants. We look forward to seeing you for the 11th edition (or is 10th anniversary 2.0?) on what we hope will be April 25, 2021 (again, we don't have the date set because we haven't been able to confirm with all the necessary entities yet--but we are working on it and will annouce it as soon as we've got it!).
Thank you for reading, and even if you don't agree, we appreciate your understanding.