Avoid

Run or Dye: 5k – Recap

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Course Map

NOTE: I decided not to map this run with Endomondo since it was a “fun” run and I was afraid the dye would get into vital components. So instead I bring you the map on their site, which actually isn’t even close to what we ran.

Their "5k" Course
Their “5k” Course

RunOrDye-Map-Actual


Recap

I would do my usual recap and reflect on my experience but this race was pure shit from the beginning so instead I will just list all that went wrong:

  1. NOT A 5k!
    See Course Map above for proof. Their tag is “The Most Colorful 5k Run” but that should be changed to 4k. The “Dye Zone”  moved to the start/finish and that decision cut off a chunk of the run. This inaccurate map was the first of many errors on their site which brings me to…
  2. INACCURATE WEBSITE!
    You rely on a race website to have the most up to date information on a race. People need to know; where to park, where the expo is, and start times. The Run or Dye site got about one of those right. See a Rock and Roll Marathon site for comparison. Night and day right? One glaring omission is that Run or Dye claimed to be a charitable event but the closest information you can find is on there About Us page that only vaguely states each race works with a local charity. At the race there was zero mention of this charity. I was only aware of it from the post race email. The expo info wasn’t even on the site until a few days before and even then the hours were inaccurate. The only reliable source of information was from the weekly email, which got caught in my junk mail the first two times.
  3. OVERPRICED!
    Now I was lucky with this one since I only paid $30 total via Groupon for our registration. If you try to sign up regularly, expect to pay $45-50 per person. What do you get for that fee? A heavy cotton shirt with their logo, one dye packet that lasts about 30 seconds, temporary tattoo of their logo, cheap plastic wristband, and lots of fliers for other stuff. The white shirt is a clever idea since you want to see all the colors but heavy cotton during a run? Oh man is that a mistake. My shirt also failed to clean up completely as the neck has this purple ring around the collar.
  4. POOR COMMUNICATION!
    So we get there an hour before the start and get to the main gate of the coliseum. We see people lining up around the Sports Arena and only one sign saying that it is the Registration line. We start to stretch but notice that a steady stream of people is working towards the parking lot south of the Sports Arena. Once we weave through the lines to the parking lot we see a sign saying that it is the Dye Zone, we assume that’s the start. Nope! About thirty minutes later someone finally comes over the speakers and says we need to get to the chutes that are south of the Dye Zone or as he put it “near the porta potties.” So the crowd slowly inches over there through the barriers. No staff helps move people to the start. We stand around well past the 9 am start time and we finally move forward! And stop. Five minutes later we move again. And stop. This cycle goes on for about an hour. It wasn’t until we could see the starting line start that we realize they are doing wave starts. No message about wave starts was ever given over the speakers. We could only hear the bad music coming from the DJ booth. No notice was given about the late start until the post race email. Apparently, the packet pick up line snaked around the Sports Arena and spilled into the course. I would’ve been more understanding if they had told us at the day of the race.
  5. COURSE HAZARDS!
    Along the 4k course we had to deal with uneven pavements, pot holes, narrow trails, and just about every other course hazard you can think of. None was marked and the course itself was roped off only in certain places. This became an issue when a regular amount of pedestrians walked through the course.
    Strollers, who should have been told to start last, would come to a grinding halt when the course would hit an unmarked sidewalk. This was especially dangerous after the first Dye Zone where your vision was impaired by the dye for a few seconds. The stroller in front of me barely saw it in time to stop just shy and caused the rest of us to run into the spectator area to avoid a pileup.
    There was also the traffic (runner and car) that had to be dodged throughout the street sections. The staff of the nearby museums and parks were a lot better at marking hazards than any of the Run or Dye staff. One woman from the coliseum security actually stood near a pot hole the entire time to make sure runners didn’t hit it. She complained into her walkie-talkie that she could not find any of the Run or Dye staff to take over.
  6. PACKET PICK UP MADNESS!
    If you read through their Facebook page you will see numerous complaints about the packet pick up. I can verify that the lines snaked around the Sports Arena and definitely took an hour to clear. I only saw two people doing the registration part. There were also complaints about the staff just giving up and handing out numbers towards the end. As well as not having enough shirts and dye packets. These last three I did not witness. I went to the Citadel packet pick up the day before and while we did not have such huge issues there were still some problems.
    The email said the pick up would start at 10. We got there exactly at 10 and the tent wasn’t set up. The Run or Dye Staff was told by the Citadel staff to change a bit of their layout. Thankfully we did get an update; their computers weren’t connecting to the wifi but would be in a few minutes. So we stood there for another twenty minutes until they got it all set up. This shit should have been fixed an hour before the actual start time. People complained about needing to get back to work and that it should not have taken more than ten minutes. I did not have any where to be so I was not too bothered by it but I understood their frustration.
    When we finally got registered and moved into the packet pick up tent, they STILL weren’t ready. We had to bag our own goodie bag and the line ended up at a dead-end. They set up so the line would lead into their small store but instead it was blocked off by merchandise boxes and tables for the first few minutes. We could not walk back through the single file line so we stood there and alerted the staff who moved a few items out-of-the-way to let us out. I guess that should have been my first warning at how incompetent this company is.
  7. DYE TO THE FACE!
    In the final packet info they instructed us not to throw dye at each other’s faces. I’m pleased to report that none of my fellow racers did that, the kids manning the Dye zones however had no such restriction. There were a few dye zones along the course manned by teenage volunteers. A good number of them would make it a point to throw it high and smack you in the face with it. I got dye in my ear and Meghann got dye in her eyes/mouth. A few other runners had to pull off the course to cough out the dye. One even pulled out her phone to call her fellow runners to complain. Yes I expected to get dye in my face but not intentionally. These kids were gloating to each other about how many people they’ve smacked in the face. I would hope the next time some adult supervision would be at each station to avoid this.
  8. DOUCHEY PICTURES!
    Now this is something Run or Dye didn’t have any direct control but definitely could’ve cut down the amount of instances. Pictures at the start/finish dye zone wasn’t a big deal but when people would stop in the MIDDLE of the course dye zones to Instagram the moment how the fuck is that not stopped? I literally ran into people doing this at every color station. It didn’t occur to them that some were actually running the course. They even had the Run or Dye staff take pictures for them. I wish more of the runners would just enjoy the moment.
  9. LACK OF COURSE SUPPORT!
    Any race you do, there will be at least one water station along the course but not Run or Dye. There wasn’t a water station at mile 1 nor one at the finish. There was a tent that had some water bottles but they were all out by the time we finished. Again the staff just said “there are more near the porta potties”. Why the fuck would they be placed there? I found no such secret stash of water bottles.
    Got dye in your eye and causing problems? Too bad! There was a medical station but it was from another event at the coliseum at the middle of the course.
    Hungry after running for 4km? Ha! You could buy food from a food truck but that was as far as food selection went.
    We left the finish area after some annoying hype man was calling for a walk off competition. I needed food/water and it was obvious Run or Dye wasn’t going to provide any.

So what did I enjoy? Not much. The two upsides were that it was near a metro station and the initial Dye Zone was actually fun. Any one of the complaints above would’ve been enough to override those two upsides.

Still it was slightly enjoyable since I had Meghann around to keep me from going crazy.

Run or Dye: Pre-Race
Team M&M always looking at the bright side of life

Post Race Comments

This event is nowhere near an actual race. As it stands it is just an excuse to take pictures of yourself throwing some dye. I would only recommend this race to those who have money to burn, can get a big enough group to make your own fun in the Dye Zone, and who aren’t interested in a race.

While the company did eventually send out an apologetic email here are the only two solutions they came up with:

1. Better line management.  We’re committed to making the line move faster and more productively, including roping it off, having more check-in staff as necessary, and ensuring that people don’t cut in line.

2. Getting started on time.  The fact is, the line was so long that it stretched into the course — which is why we started late.  If we would have simply set up the line away from the Dye Zone, we would not have gotten a late start.

Acknowledgment of the poor communication and a plan to rectify that would’ve been a big fix in my book. And what did we get in return for being part of such a shitty run? 50% off an upcoming race, limit two. I gave mine away on their Facebook page with a warning of how much of a train wreck Run or Dye LA was. No way am I ever doing another Run or Dye race.

UPDATE
I got another email from the Run or Dye people with another coupon (I still won’t bite) and further details on what has changed since the LA fiasco.

1.Dramatically improved the check-in process, including creating an electronic QR code system that allows us to check runners in very quickly
2.Quadrupled the amount of staff we have checking runners in at packet pick-up and on race day — another adjustment that helps the line move faster
3.Moved the check-in line at race day so that there are NO delays to the start time
4.Put water prominently at the finish line
5.Created extensive training materials to ensure that our volunteers DON’T throw dye in the face or other sensitive areas

Devil’s Gate Dam 5k

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Course Map


Recap

We signed up for this race after seeing a flier for it in our race packet during the Aquarium of the Pacific 5k. It was a local race, just 5 minutes away from home, and the money benefited Danny’s Farm which is a great cause. I was a bit hesitant to give the race organizers another shot after the poor management of the Aquarium of the Pacific but the cost was low enough, $30. I also managed to talk Hugo and Janeth into joining us.

This time around the parking situation was better managed, though we got there early, and the bib pick up took no more than 5 minutes. We stood around for a bit and I went into my pre-race routine of stretching/pacing. Thanks to Runner’s World and random handouts from running stores, I actually knew what I needed to do to get ready. The start was also a lot better organized. Just one vital part was missing… the course map.

I checked out the website daily to see if the map was available. Even to this day the website still says “Coming Soon”. A few minutes before the start, someone drew the “map”  on a white-board. Just looked like a giant U to me. We had tried to get a preview of the course the week before but it seemed like the course would be a turn-around and not a loop. The call for the starting line didn’t take as long this time around but I made sure to get as close as I could to avoid having to dodge the walkers.

After a brief Aztec ceremony, the company is named Aztlan Athletics, we were off!

Devils Gate Dam 5k: Starting Line
And so begins the dirtiest run yet…

The picture above made it seem like a nice start but as you can tell by the kid in the green shirt, things got hectic fast. You see, when you mix such a large group of runners and very loose dirt you will get a nasty dust cloud. By the time I reached the first curve all I could see was a giant dust trail in front of me. I quickened my pace more than I wanted to just to try get ahead of the dust cloud. The first hill provided enough of a gap for me and I charged ahead. Looking back at the main pack, I knew Meghann, Hugo and Janeth were probably covered in dust… poor bastards.

The route we took wasn’t very scenic nor easy to navigate with such a large crowd. A wave start would have helped ease the traffic. Screwed again by this damn race organizer. I made a mental note to avoid any runs organized by Aztlan Athletics.

Once I got to the dam it was smooth sailing. The route still was lined by teenage volunteers, who somehow were even less enthusiastic than the previous race but the trail was well marked and there was actually a water station and marker at mile 1. Things were starting to brighten up. I still found it odd that their official mile maker was about a quarter mile behind my Endomondo app. I wrote it off as my phone having GPS problems.

I found someone to keep pace with and fell into a nice pace. Again, it wasn’t much of a view. Other than the signature dam in the beginning and JPL at the turn around, it was mainly dust and a dry lake-bed…. oh and a lot of horse crap on the trail. By the time I reached the turn around, I was covered in dust from head to toe. It was a bright and sunny morning so the sweat was starting to turn the dust into a nice paste. Bleh.

I reached the Mile 1 marker on the turn around, guess one marker is better than none, and noticed my playlist had reached the final song. I had set up a playlist to try to keep tempo with… I still had the dam an an entire mile to go… so while Van Halen was telling me I was running with the devil (what? I thought it was fitting!) I was actually about a mile away. So that song ended and it went to a random song in my library…. it landed on Black Eyed Peas “Shut Up”. Fuck you music app! I couldn’t get the damn thing to skip so I just went with it.

When I was coming up to the final bend I noticed this hipster (American headband dude in picture above) kept passing me on the hills. I was unsure of my time or really how far away I was so I just kept an even pace. To be honest, I was feeling quite tired due to the uneven terrain. The treadmill had helped with flat courses but just a few hills and the initial charge to get away from the pack had drained me.

I finally saw the finish line and two women in front of me began to push and shove each other to get to the finish. No they weren’t friends. I decided to just hang back and let them duke it out. Then out of nowhere comes the hipster charging ahead to pass me at the last minute. The refs were pointing to him and telling me to stand in line behind him. I was a bit confused as to what was going on. I was just happy to get a chance to drink some water and wipe off the dirt.

I looked at my app and the final time was around 32 minutes… 6.16km! Somewhere along the course the race directors had added a mile. Others around me were also pissed off about their times and checked their apps to confirm it was longer than a 5k. I grabbed some water and food while I waited for the race results and for Meghann to come in. Hugo and Janeth had decided to walk the course so I wasn’t expecting to see them just yet.

Again I stood right next to the cat mascot and got him to cheer Meghann in…. and again she didn’t notice us. I noticed she was having a tough time breathing and asked her if she was ok. Turned out all that dust had caused her to have a minor asthma problem. Despite that she finished at 48 minutes. She was pissed off about the time until I told her that it was actually a 6.16km run. That evened out our paces to 8 min 34 sec for me and 12 min 32 sec for her. I was quite proud of her since she kept about the same pace from the last race despite all of the set backs.

We looked at our results… I came in fourth in my class! That’s why they were so adamant that the hipster had come in right before me. I missed out on a medal due to me giving up at the last stretch. Bah!

We stuck around long enough to see Hugo and Janeth finish up. It so far is the worst race I’ve been to. I really hope Danny’s Farm got a good chunk of money from it as they are a great cause. However, if they don’t switch organizers for next year I highly doubt we will be back. It’s safe to say we are done with Aztlan Athletics.