Saturday, August 30, 2014

AM~Erica's Open Letter to the Blacklight Run KC

So anyway...

As I recover from my 5k last night, I am pondering how I want to word what I want to say to the organizers of the Blacklight Run's stop in Kansas City. Why? Because there is SO much I really want to say!

Well, you're in luck! I'm going to let you all know what that might look like right here.

Get comfy, grab some popcorn, and here we go...

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Dear Blacklight Run Organizers,

On Friday, March 28, 2014, I read an article about SELF Magazine doing a story on running fashion faux pas offenders. In the story (which was supposed to be satirical, but didn't come off that way), one of the "offenders" was a tutu-wearing runner. She had a tutu organization & had some health issues herself. That made the situation worse, but the fact that tutus are so trendy right now to get people (yes, even guys) motivated to get out there and go, I thought it was a shame. I like the tutu thought. But I was NOT a runner.

On Saturday, March 29, 2014, I was on Facebook & noticed a few of my friends running a couple of different races on the same morning: Run or Dye & the Diva Dash. They all looked like they had SO much fun! They were covered in colors, covered in mud, getting medals, wearing tutus...and they were not avid runners. Well, not that I knew of, anyway. So, my interest perked up. Maybe even I could do something like that! I could work to try to get some bling, get covered in colors, and of course, wear a tutu in the process. So, I kind of wanted to go running.

On Sunday afternoon, March 30, 2014, I went for my first motivated run EVER! I'm not counting the high school runs I would have to do for a grade. This time, I WANTED to do it! My hubby thought something was wrong with me, and my children offered to have an ambulance waiting for me when I got to the end of our short driveway. They thought I was crazy since I didn't run. But I went. It took me about 10 minutes to run about a third of a mile. But I went.

Then Monday, March 31, 2014 came. I had announced that I had run. I even did a BLOG POST about it to keep myself accountable. And then it happened...
My friend, Beqi, decided she wanted to try this thing called the"Blacklight Run." It was a 5k that would be at the end of August. She convinced me that I would be ready for it by then. With great hesitance, yet excitement, I decided I would do this night race, be covered in color, and run with my friend. I registered for my first race ever. I filled out the online form, put in my credit card info, and took some deep breaths before I hit the "submit" button. As I was either thanked or congratulated for registering for the race (it's been a few weeks), I just sat there & cried. Part of it was excitement; part of it was wondering what the heck I'd just done. It was pretty emotional.

I also helped come up with the team name so it would be amazing, fun & fitting for us & for the race.

In the meantime, I have gotten to run a few 5k races, wear tutus & get some bling. I've worked really hard to seriously have fun. The one thing I still needed to do was get covered in color & have the total Blacklight Run experience! The outfit I was planning to run in to support my team, the GLOWden Girls, the tutu, the neon nails...all of it! Colors all over, black lights to make it glow, and photos that would be awesome!

I was emotional when race day came close. Even though I've done of few of these runs now, this one was the first one I'd ever registered for. EVER! 

It was pretty exciting to know that I got my earlybird registration done in time to get the amazing registration price of $20! Especially knowing it could go up at any time. Then as each $20 deadline passed, it only made me laugh, after a while, to see that the $20 price wasn't going to change. Even as race day approached, the "Full Price: $60" was a lie. But I could look passed this ridiculousness because I was going to have fun!

When it came to packet pickup, I was not excited I would have to drive 45 minutes to pick up my bib. Especially since I would be driving another 45 minutes a different direction to run the race the following day! Geez! That's a lot of milage for my little car, Bessie. But I digress...

After all the gas I had to put into the travel just for this race, imagine how frustrating it is to have to PAY $10 to park for the event. I mean, really? Why didn't you have folks just pay $35 up front at registration? That would have helped. And I felt for anyone who had to pay the extra $5 to have to pick up their race packets on site. I mean, really? "How dare they make us wait!"

The pre party was looking amazing! The crowd of people jumping up & down with their hands in the air to amazing music was phenomenal to watch! People in their light up accessories, white shirts, neon accents & makeup with things that glow-in-the dark was an amazing sight to look at & witness!

My pre-race pic with Beqi...
...while there was still a blacklight working.

As the evening's clouds looked ominous, we were hoping things would clear out pretty quickly. Well, if you were there, you would know the skies opened up pretty good. So did the light show in the sky. 

Participants began to gather their things to start the race, but quickly realized no one really knew where the race was starting. As a teammate & I hung out under an awning, we were hoping to make a mad dash to the race start by where we were. However, we weren't by the start line. So we planned to make a mad dash to the other side of the stage to the start line when we realized the masses were going to the "start line" where we thought it was going to be. We walked for a VERY long time. Many of us runners were pointing out how weird it was we had to walk so far to get to a start line. But we went with the crowd anyway. 

With the rain still going, and lightening in the sky, I opted to hand my phone over to my daughter (who was there to try to take pics of the start line, finish line, and anything else pre & post race) so it wouldn't get ruined. I don't know when we started for sure, but I know eliminating the waves of the masses to get folks through the race in a hurry was probably not the best or safest idea. It's a little terrifying running the race trying to pass & penetrate the masses of walkers with many streaks of lightening across the sky as we go.

Yes, we got covered in colors. Cool. But when you have to unplug preset backlights throughout the race because of the storms in the area took away from the experience for sure. Figuring out there were no photographers throughout the race, probably due to storms, was disappointing.

The closest I'll get to a finishing pic.
No blacklight in sight to make this glow.

The folks out there with their light up wands showing participants where to head where AWESOME at their encouragement! But when you come up to an older guy holding a flashlight pointed at the ground, even before we can see where the finish line is, telling runners, "Get to your cars as quickly as you can," is not a good sign. I also heard a voice over his walkie-talkie stating that everyone should be clearing the area & how the after-race party was cancelled. That was a bummer. I couldn't even see the finish line, and it was semi-defeating at that point.

As I ran around some cones to what I thought might be the finish, the anti-climatic finish line was a bit devastating. I was rain-soaked, covered in colors...and no black light pictures to show for it. Just a couple of pre-race pics in the photo booth. 

So I paid a $20 "earlybird" registration for a race I was emotional to do & looking forward to (which was the amount the whole time), with a great outfit planned & with an awesome team name...just to be let down by the disorganization of a race with rain, a start line that began at the finish line & the finish at the start line, and a free glow pack I haven't even opened since it was to be a part of this amazing after party that I drove a total of 3 hours between getting the race packet AND paying $10 to park so I could run this race that fizzled.

The take aways:
T-shirt, unused glow pack, temporary 
and an overall yucky experience.

No after food or drink that I could see. The participants just ran/walked for 3 miles. We were already fairly disappointed. Instead, we were just sent to our vehicles.

I'm sure it might have been more exciting without the storms in the area for the actual race, but it's not worth the drive time & extra fees as it is...but to put everyone around in danger AND to have half of the experience taken away...well...

My face when I got back to my car.
This is how I felt about the Blacklight Run experience.

When I heard about the $10 parking fee, that's all that told me I would not run this race again...and then the rest happened.

My 18-year-old daughter was taking shelter in the brick bathroom for refuge in the storm...just to be told she couldn't be there because of the storm. The safest place to be, and there were people not caring much for anyone's safety...just the safety of a large portion of the ever-so-precious equipment.

You're only dealing with thousands of people. What should that matter? I know the electricity thing plays a part in it. Don't get me wrong...but maybe you should have had a back up plan for lightening in the area taking away an experience I was longing for...along with thousands of others.

I'm sure you'll have many people continue to participate in the future. I will not be one of them. And even though I'm only 1 of thousands...I will make sure this word gets out to many other people so they can heed my warning, and they may share this warning with the people they know.

That word-of-mouth thing can work wonders.

The one race I was emotional about doing since I signed up my second day of running ever wasn't worth it. It's too bad. The experience was taken away for lack of safety precautions. Doesn't bode well at all.

At least the full rainbow, I couldn't get a picture of without my phone, was nicely painted scenery for the sky to begin the unnecessarily long walk to the start line. It was the highlight.

I hope this can be worked out for anyone in this position in the future. Not sure how you make this up to so many disappointed participants in this particular race. It may be something to consider how something like this might be handled better next time.

Either way, thanks for the t-shirt & glow pack I couldn't use anyway. I'm sure I'll wear the t-shirt while sharing my experience with others; I'm sure I'll treasure the unused glow pack for quite some time.

Erica Williams

P.S. What charity did this go to, and was that $10/vehicle going to that charity?

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There you have it, folks. The experience of my first race I ever registered for. A let down.

I might have PR'd this race, too. Trying to figure that out since I didn't have my phone with me for the run. I just wanted to get it over with. Probably not the overall attitude you should have for a race like this...but I was done with it before I got thru the 1st mile.

I just wanted to leave.

It's OK...I have more & better-planned run experiences coming very soon. This is not a defeat...just a bad stepping stone along the way.

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Just an update, as of a little after 12:30, I received a response from the Blacklight Run about my above experience.

Believe it or not, it's the first time in the race's history they have ever had to call off the after party. I was also offered a significant discount on an upcoming Blacklight Run or Glow Foam Race.

I wasn't fond of the idea of heading all the way out there (both to pick up my packet AND for the race) just to pay $10 for parking...but I might have to consider.

The races that don't offer bling are the ones that offer an amazing experience...and hopefully some pics to prove how much fun you were having. Last night was NOT it. But for the discount I've been offered...*sigh* I'm thinking. I'll keep you updated.

In the meantime, I do know the Blacklight Run has donated to the KCK Huggers & the Special Olympics of Kansas. So...there's that.

Time to start pondering & praying...


As I am paying attention to other participants, I am finding the uproar is deafening.

I'm also finding that, even though I have gotten a response & discount to another race that I already said I didn't want to do because of extra costs...many others aren't getting these offers. The word of mouth is getting out about how midwest weather can bring out how unprepared [dis]organizers can become when they forget to check weather in the midwest. Ummm...lightening happens. That's unsafe to be out in. And to not have a real explanation for the extra fees & to not be able to make this fizzled race OK for thousands...whether they speak up or really disheartening.

The care is not with the people. I'm not sure how much of the funds go to charity, but it's an overall ripoff. I'm thinking I may not accept their offer. The experience was ruined for thousands, not just a small handful.

Even if they rescheduled the race for all participants & to keep your parking pass on hand...because it would be ridiculous to have to repay for all of it again. But they want money no matter what. That says a lot.

So...keep in mind the same organizers do the Blacklight Run AND the Glow Foam Run. Maybe steer clear of these races. It appears great up front...but once you have to dig ain't so deep...

And if you want to see some of the backlash to give you an idea, click HERE. They've apparently disabled the posting option so no one else could bash it anymore. Says a whole lot.

I cannot, in good conscience, take up an offer like this knowing so many were in my same situation & are being denied even a discount. I'm glad my letter was read & heard...but how many others are trying to get thru that are being ignored &/or rejected? Not good business. I'd be wary of this company...or participate at your own risk.

Even though many got to run/walk...the experience was cancelled. That's what this is about. If you cannot fulfill that part of your need to make it right.


  1. What a bummer of a race. My sister has raced at least one race every month for the last three years and there are for sure great race organizers and crappy ones. I guess this is a crappy one.

    I love following along with your running and ALL of your amazing-ness!

    1. Thank you, my friend! And so proud of your progress, too!! Keep it up!
      As for this race...*sigh* When it's all about the experience...and you get only a small portion of the experience because the organizers didn't keep up with weather...yeah. No bueno.