MADISON (WKOW) -- Participants in a Madison 5K fun run are filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau, and taking to Facebook and other social media, over what they say was misleading promotional information on an event that hardly delivered anything close to what was advertised.
"There was supposed to be a stage, dance party, electric show," run participant Chris Conohan of Middleton says.
The website for the May 17 Electric Foam 5K at the Alliant Energy Center uses a video to boast head-to-toe foam greeting runners at race intervals, and a party atmosphere:
But Conohan says the event was a far cry from the video, with no dance stage, few staff and makeshift foam stations.
"It looked like a bathtub had overflowed with bubbles," Conohan tells 27 News. "It wasn't the shooting foam that was represented on the event's promotions."
"It felt wrong from the get go," run participant Sunil Smith of Watertown tells 27 News. "There was pretty much little to nothing of that (promotion video)."
Alliant Energy Center representative Shirley Kaltenberg tells 27 News the run's promotion was removed from the Center's marquee, with no event payment in the days before the scheduled event.
Kaltenberg says even when payment arrived, there was no permit to allow the 5K course to extend to a nearby city park. Conohan says the run was reduced to a series of laps around three-quarters of a mile of cones.
Madison's Berkeley Running Company agreed to be the venue for runners to pick up registration packets. Store owner David Meixelsperger says the event website, its affiliation with the Alliant Energy Center and contact from the race sponsor led him to believe the event would be staged properly.
"We promoted it to our customers. We promoted it to the community," Meixelsperger says. "We were feeling pretty good about this fun, fitness event coming to Madison. We're pretty disappointed."
Alliant Energy Center's contract for the event is with Clare Carbonaro of Street Events, LLC of Raleigh, North Carolina. North Carolina's Department of the Secretary of States lists the company's general manager as Wayne Street.
Carbonaro has yet to respond to either calls or emails from 27 News seeking comment.
Better Business Bureau regional director Kimberly Hazen says complaints from run participants have been filed with the organization. Hazen says there's an open case in North Carolina over another run staged by Street Events. Hazen encourages anyone else who experienced problems with the event to file complaints:
Conohan created a Facebook page to allow dissatisfied participants to weigh in, and to warn potential runners in upcoming, website-promoted scheduled electric foam 5Ks in Dallas, Columbus, and other cities.
Conohan tells 27 News some runners have received refunds after registering for the event through Groupon.
Representatives of the Better Business Bureau and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection offer these tips to help avoid problems when considering signing-up for a local run:
* Research previous stagings of the run
* Read reviews of the event from runners, event partners
* Check cancellation policies to know if refunds are possible
* Look at the race route
* Pay with a credit card to provide opportunity for possible reimbursement
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