5 On Your Side

Cary Gladiator 5K leaves many seeking refunds

Posted June 1, 2011
Updated June 2, 2011

— It's a hot new thing – a kind of military style race that typically includes rope, water and barrier obstacles along with the run. But many people like Desiree Adkins say instead of leaving wet and muddy, they were disappointed and even angry.

When Adkins decided to get fit a couple of years ago, she set a goal to run a 5K every month.

Last year, she increased her distances, and this year she added obstacles.

“They are the adult version of being a kid on a playground," Adkins said. 

She did the "Rugged Maniac" event in April and was hooked.

“You have to crawl through mud. You have to walk on a log," she said. “You've got to go on a balance beam. You have to crawl over a rope wall and fall into a big, inflatable mattress.”

So, she signed up for the Gladiator 5K in Cary held in May.

Participants paid anywhere from $50 to $85. Proceeds were to benefit Special Olympics of North Carolina.

According to the race packet handed out the day before the race, there would be 16 obstacles. Adkins said the actual race had 10 obstacles, and they were't challenging. 

She said the "first obstacle was three 2 x 4s” that weren’t very high. “It was just kind of a matter of ducking and walking under," she said. 

Adkins said the course was only 2.5 miles – short of a 5K's 3.1 miles.  And when they finished, she said there was only one cooler of water for the nearly 800 participants. 

“It was just so misleading compared to what our expectations were based on the advertising," Adkins said. 

Adkins was one of dozens who complained to 5 on Your Side: 

  • Ann says the race was "just a trail run" with a few minor obstacles.
  • Brenda wrote that  "most of the advertised obstacles were not there."
  • Francesca had safety concerns about "long distances that were completely unmonitored."

Many also complained to Wayne Street, the event organizer, and asked for a partial refund.

He responded to Adkins' request with an email pointing to the race website which said "course distance and obstacles could change ... without notice." He said that happened because of "unforeseen circumstances,” and refused refunds.

Both Special Olympics of North Carolina and race sponsor FleetFeet said they've also heard complaints and have not been able to reach Street.

And Special Olympics President/CEO Keith Fishburne said they hadn't received any money from the event.

When Street didn't respond to 5 on Your Side's calls, we went to his Cary home.

He wouldn’t talk about the problems. His only comment when asked about the money was “We’re working on that.”

Adkins and the others hope that means Street is working to make things right.

“It's just really unfortunate because it could have been such a wonderful event. Not only with benefiting the people as individuals, but a great cause," Adkins said. 

gladiator 5k Cary 5K leaves many seeking refunds

After our visit, Wayne Street set up a meeting with Special Olympics for Wednesday afternoon. 

Earlier Wednesday, Street canceled the meeting because of a sick relative. He told Fishburne he would reschedule next week.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Bulldog22 Jun 7, 2011

    Any further updates on this story?

  • francesca4281 Jun 3, 2011

    I disputed my charge as well.

  • baracus Jun 3, 2011

    "I am very confused with the lack of sympathy."

    You must be new here.

  • jon5 Jun 2, 2011

    If you paid by credit card dispute your charge. I did.

  • lizard4113 Jun 2, 2011

    I am very confused with the lack of sympathy. Most runners sign up for races for the experience of the event. When part of the registration fee goes to a charity, that is an added bonus. Even if the "fine print" says the obstacles can change, one would assume the course would be equally as challenging as advertised.

    Maybe some people cannot relate to a race but it would be the same if you bought tickets to a concert and someone else performed. Still a concert but not the concert you paid for.

    I have been on race committee's in the past and sometimes it does take a few weeks to pay all bills involved in the race and give the check to the charity. I heard that medals were ordered for this race and they did not come in on time but will be mailed out to the runners. Maybe he is keeping the money to cover postage before writing the final check???

  • MajorLeagueinfidel Jun 2, 2011

    800 racers?...jeezus, what a money maker!!.. and to think our
    9-1-1 Adventure Race for Sunday is only drawing 90 competitors? The race is 6-8HRS of trail running, mountain biking, orienteering, high ropes confidence course, live band, pasta buffet to follow and awards....and the start/ finish is a at a Pub...but I guess the Gladiator 5K was more challenging..

  • tarheel4life Jun 2, 2011

    "string of "sponsored" events in their township that are merely scams (like beer, bourbon and bbq at Koko Booth)."

    You're crazy. Beer Bourbon and BBQ was a great event? Did you attend? What is your complaint?

    What other scams does the City of Cary sponsor?

  • Morrisville Jun 2, 2011

    800 participants
    So thats 800 x 50 = $40,000
    or 800 x 85 = $68,000

    Money like that doesn't just up and disappear. I smell something Fishy

  • wolfie7873 Jun 2, 2011

    The bottom line is that the producers of this race are terrible, terrible race-event producers. It doesn't take a whole heckuva lot of foresight to adequately plan for water and food after a race, and not much more to get approval from Cary for all of your obstacles and just be honest about the results with your entrants. This Street guy is a fool and should never be allowed to produce a race again because he clearly has no idea how.

    For you (obvious) non-racers out there, it's nearly universal for water and food to be provided to paid entrants of a race, so much so that it IS expected and generally considered in very poor taste when those are absent.

  • m0nky Jun 2, 2011

    deathrow is being the level headed one here? call me pleasantly shocked ;-)