By Tara Bennett
It would seem people are running away from Cosmic Run, a nocturnal 5K race, after the date and venue of the event was changed less than two weeks away before schedule.
The sudden change of plans occurred after the race was issued a cease and desist letter from LSU, which ordered the race’s organizers to discontinue associating LSU’s name with the event. Originally, Cosmic Run advertised its race to be held on LSU’s campus; however, last Tuesday, a post was made on the race’s Facebook page, stating that the race would have to be rescheduled and moved to a new location.
“We realize this is a huge inconvenience, but it’s important that you know we did everything in our power to keep the event at LSU. Unfortunately, LSU unexpectedly made this decision despite our mutual plans for the original date,” the announcement read.
Organizers with the race did not respond for comment.
According to the cease and desist letter, LSU never agreed to partner with Cosmic Run in hosting the event. The letter expressed that last year Cosmic Run was given specific requirements about hosting the event on campus, which Cosmic Run failed to meet, but still went forward with connecting LSU to the event in their advertising.
The letter also states that on Jan. 30 and Feb. 11, LSU contacted Cosmic Run expressing they still had yet to meet the requirements, even after being allowed an additional week to do so. Organizers of the race posted claims that they had signed a venue contract with LSU in early January, and worked to reschedule the event, rather than cancel after LSU gave them final notice in February.
“LSU is considering all of its legal options to address Cosmic Run’s unlawful use of LSU’s name in its marketing and advertising materials,” the letter read, written by Patrick Martin, director of Finance and Administrative Services at LSU.
In the letter, Martin expressed that Cosmic Run should offer a full refund to anyone who purchased a ticket. Tickets ranged from $40 to $60 in cost depending on when tickets were purchased. Race organizers announced they could not offer refunds due to their no refund policy, but all runners were automatically registered for the rescheduled event.
The backlash from disappointed racers was swift as several participants took to Facebook to voice their displeasure over the change of events, being unable to receive a refund, displeasure in the new date and calling the venue change into question.
“The contract is airtight with their runners, you would think it would be the same with their venue,” said Lizz Marie. “I think Cosmic Run needs to refund everyone. I was irritated even though I didn’t sign up. I don’t think LSU has anything to gain by lying about this, and I think LSU should pursue legal action. There are rules. You can’t do it without their permission and a permit, and it’s your responsibility to obtain that venue. It’s irresponsible to not have that lined up before they started advertising.”
For Christine Assaf, this ordeal was a big disappointment for her. An avid runner, Assaf tries to schedule one race each month to keep her active and training, and was pleased by the results of her experience with the Color Run 5K last year. Assaf decided to try out a different theme 5K race and chose Cosmic Run. However, she was shocked over Cosmic Run’s lack of making it right to the customers when they rescheduled.
“Nowhere in the email was a refund offered,” said Assaf. “This should have been the first option, not a secondary afterthought.”
Many other runners agreed with Assaf, and proceeded to comment on Cosmic Run’s Facebook event page insisting they will take legal action if a refund was not given to them.
As of March 6, Cosmic Run has started giving customers their refunds.
“This entire ordeal is sad really,” said Assaf. “These types of races coming to Baton Rouge are good for our community and they encourage people of all ages to go out and have fun while exercising. Due to the way this was poorly planned, this may make a bad impression and discourage people from registering from future races.”
Runners also expressed their displeasure due to April 19 being chosen as the new date, as this is the day before Easter, and also during the week of spring break for LSU students. It is also the date of The Color Run 5K and the Crescent City Classic in New Orleans.
“Since I’m already registered for The Color Run 5K earlier the same day they rescheduled, I doubt I’ll run another 5K again that night, but I will go by and pick up my packet and express my extreme displeasure,” said Assaf.
The complaints caused the event to reschedule for September 12 at Airline Highway Park.