An Open Letter to RAM Racing

I’ve never, in all my races, felt compelled to email the directors of the race because of so many things that went wrong.  Yesterday’s Hot Chocolate 15K changed that so RAM Racing got an email from me regarding their fiasco of a race.  Here’s what I wrote:

To RAM Racing and whom it may concern,

Yesterday, I was one of 20,000 runners signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15K and was one of many who was disappointed with the race.  I know that you have probably received many emails from frustrated and unhappy runners, but I felt the need to comment on yesterday’s race.  I’ve participated in 3 marathons, 13 half marathons, 4 10 mile races and multiple races ranging from 4 miles to 9 miles and yesterday was by far the worst race I have ever participated in.  My areas of concern are as follows:
  1. Runner’s Safety– the first 5 miles of the race were on open highway, using 2 of 3 lanes of an active highway lane with moving traffic in the 3rd lane.  I was pushed into cones because of the amount of runners and saw a few runners fall due to runner congestion.  If something were to happen where medical attention would have been needed, there would have been no way for it to get there.  The last 3 miles of the race was on a narrow path with one side being a significant drop into the harbor.  With a race of 20,000 runners, again if something happened, there’s no way medical attention could have easily gotten to the injured party.
  2. Location– I’ve done races in Washington DC before (the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, the Suntrust Half Marathon and the Marine Corps 10K) and all have been easily accessible via metro and public transportation and in areas that can accommodate the amount of runners registered for the race.  The National Harbor, though a beautiful place to visit, is one of the worst places to have a race in DC because it’s hard to get to and clearly, couldn’t deal with the amount of people yesterday
  3. Traffic– although you claimed the back up leading to the race was due to an accident, I looked on multiple news outlets yesterday and couldn’t find any accidents in the area where runners and volunteers would have taken to get to the race.  I took the shuttle in from Crystal City and we sat on the Wilson Bridge for a good 20 minutes waiting to get into the start.  There were runners who allowed for ample time to get to the race and sat in traffic anywhere from 1-2.5 hours to move only a few miles.  It was such a bottle neck trying to get into the Harbor, it was nearly impossible to do so. Additionally, while on the shuttle, I saw runners who were passengers jump out of their cars to run to the starting area.  Incredibly unsafe circumstances for them to be in.
  4. Communication– both leading up to the race and at the race, I found the communication to be very poor.  The “Fun Fact Friday” emails were beyond confusing of what to in terms of transportation and parking.  Additionally, I requested a seeded corral and had to submit results on 5 different occasions and had to email at least 3-4 times to try and figure out the issue which was by no means on my end, as I submitted PDF results each time I requested a corral.  At the race, the delay in start times were difficult to hear if you could hear them at all and I never heard once of an  official start time for the 15K after it was decided to move back.  I got some information from Facebook on my phone that you posted but I shouldn’t have needed to go that far.
  5. Shuttles/ Parking– I was one of the few lucky ones in that I didn’t have the hour + wait time to get on the Crystal City Shuttles back to Crystal City, but more effort should have been made to secure more shuttles if that was going to be one of your main sources of transportation.  As to parking, many people complained of multiple issues with it.  Since I didn’t go that route, I’m not going to bring that up, I just hope you listen to what those who did are saying.
  6. Delayed Start- never in the many races I’ve done have we had a start pushed back to over an hour later with little explanation.  I’ve been at races where maybe 5-10 minutes of a delay, but not 64 minutes.  The only reason I was able to hear was something about shuttles needing to be moved off the course, which shouldn’t have taken that long to begin with.  I was in C corral and saw at least 5 runners decide to leave because they were sick of waiting or they had other places to be.  As runners, we prep around when we’re told the start is going to be and I was no different.  I was out of water by the time we started and my legs were tight because anything I had done to warm up had gone to waste.

I realize you’re getting a lot of information, but many of us are frustrated.  I spent $65 on registration, drove 4 hours on Friday night and booked a hotel room and was highly disappointed.  As much as I appreciate the volunteers (I’ve volunteered at many of the races I’ve participated in), I don’t understand how the volunteers get sweatshirts and the runners get a low quality jacket.  We would have been fine with a higher quality shirt, tech shirt, long sleeved shirt, anything. Additionally, we were told at 3 pm yesterday an update would be coming soon.  It’s 11 AM on Sunday and we’ve still heard nothing.  I really hope you take this to heart and something is done to prevent issues of this magnitude in the future.  Additionally, something needs to be done for the runners who headed home and couldn’t run due to traffic issues.

Thank you for your time.
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