5 On Your Side

Cary Gladiator 5K leaves many seeking refunds

Posted June 1, 2011 6:23 p.m. EDT
Updated June 2, 2011 10:43 a.m. EDT

— 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. 

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.