Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon cancelled

A few times last week, I had been on the Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll website filling in the entry form, but always closing the tab before comitting because I’m planning on selling my flat in the near future, and I seem to remember last year that this was one of those ‘send out race packs’ kind of races; basically I didn’t want to have to deal with getting in touch with organizers/setting up a forwarding address/hassle.  I also knew that I would have plenty of time to sign up, because Rock ‘n’ Roll races generally have a large capacity for runners, unlike some local races that sell out in a matter of hours.

2014 would have marked the third year that the Rock ‘n’ Roll half went ahead in Edinburgh – or at least everyone who had been signing up was expecting that.  Until Monday afternoon, when event organizers announced that they had pulled the plug on the event, offering refunds or a place in another of their races for those who had already signed up.

A refund is all well and good, but due to the popularity of these events, and the fact that (in order to fleece you for more cash) they offer ‘World Rocker’ medals to people who complete their races internationally, there is now a sizeable group of people who have non-refundable accomodation and flights, but no race to run.  Several of these have been leaving comments on the R’n’R Edinburgh facebook page, bemoaning their financial loss thanks to a big name brand happily accepting cash without fully securing the race they were shilling.  One couple even complained that they had included the race as part of their honeymoon!

While not quite as bad, I have several friends who had already entered, and many are now trying to see what they can get back from pre-paid hotel rooms and non-refundable travel arrangements.  I realize this is no wide scale disaster – nobody died, the event wasn’t scheduled to take place for another few months, etc. – but that doesn’t make it right for a company to accept money and allow people to make arrangements to compete in one of their events knowing that there was a chance they wouldn’t be able to follow through.  Why would anyone even do that?

Huh, how did this picture get here?

Huh, how did this picture get here?

I mean, they even changed the date from April to June after the weather last year made the run a horrible experience for many, though everyone understood that the weather was out of their control.  But the date change is a whole other can of worms: I mean, yes, Scottish weather is unpredicatble at the best of times, but the chances of a repeat of last year’s conditions? Remote (did I mention how utterly loathsome the weather was?  Because it was shit).

Anyway, I’ll leave the weather alone, because I have serious beef with Scottish weather even when I’m not running, and my focus here is on the sloppy organization of a not-very-cheap race by a company that clearly values making bank over providing a quality product.

It’s a real shame, as well, because the course really did (at times) go through the heart of the city. The EMF Edinburgh marathon and half marathon start off in the city centre, graze by Holyrood Park, but then the course veers to the outskirts of the city and along the coast to Musselburgh.  On the plus side, they don’t up and cancel a race that people have already paid for.

To the people who had planned an international trip around this event, I can imagine your frustration.  But if you’ve travelled hundreds (or thousands) of miles for a race, what’re a few more?  While perhaps not the glitz and glamour you would expect as part of the ‘world’s largest running series’, there are other races near (and not so near) around the same time to consider:

Sunday, June 22nd:

Saturday, June 28th:

  • Dollar Hill Race – website shows details for last year’s race.
  • Kelty Coal Race – brought to my attention by a reader.  I’ll admit, I am tempted.

Sunday, June 29th:

Saturday, July 5th:

Sunday, July 6th:

16 thoughts on “Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon cancelled

  1. I’m tempted by the Harris half: the hills aren’t as bad as Templeton (the hilly standard), and you get a medal with a Harris Tweed ribbon!

    My running club friends and I debated between the EMF half and Rock n’ Roll, and I’m very glad we went with EMF. What was the main issue with Rock n’ Roll? A sponsor pulled out?

    • Something about ‘lack of public support’, apparently. No clearer than that.

      The Harris half medal sounds so… I don’t know…. quaint? It’s a just a bit too out of the way for a weekend with no Friday/Monday holiday, especially with everything Ian and I already have planned, but maybe next year. You should totally go for it though, so I can scope out the course/goods. 🙂

    • I have heard rumours that there was very little local interest in the race (i.e. no sign-ups from Edinburgh)…

      • Yeah, I’ve seen a lot pointing to this being the case, which is crazy as loads of people could have still signed up closer to the date – which is what I had planned on doing!

  2. Not sure it’s the same organization, but they cancelled The Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in Hampton, NH for 2014 also. I only ran the Half this year. I wonder is there are some organizational issues?

    • The only thing I have read/heard is that it was due to ‘lack of public support’. Whether this translates to ‘we didn’t fully sort out funding/road closures/marshalls/etc.’ or ‘not enough people entered and we weren’t making enough money’ – I don’t know.

      I have read about poor organization from other races before, as well as a feeling of trying to get as many bodies to sign up as possible, so this hasn’t exactly given me a great impression. I am also aware that they cancelled the Oslo R’n’R recently – so I bet there are quite a few unhappy European runners, in particular those going after the ‘World Rocker’ medal that has been seriously hustled via e-mail!

  3. Hah – my best man is doing the Seven Hills challenge this year, I’ll be interested to see how he gets on. I can’t do it because we will be involved in the WHW Race that weekend…

  4. Thanks for the list of other races going on, very useful! I only signed up for RnR on Monday and was gutted enough (I live in Edinburgh), I’d be raging if I’d booked flights and hotels as well. I think there must be more to this decision, surely cancelling the race will do more damage to their brand and reputation than if they’d carried on and run the event at a loss? As someone on their Facebook page pointed out, they could have made it known that numbers were low so would struggle to hold the event and got more sign-ups that way. It’s a shame, the route was fantastic but I’ve signed up for the EMF half again instead, hope I don’t get sunburnt like I did two years ago!

    • Good luck with the emf half! And I totally agree – giving a bit of warning to say they’d cancel if they didn’t get enough sign-ups would have likely generated enough interest to show that it was worth going ahead. Though I still think if they had already started accepting entries, they need to accept that not every race is going to be a huge earner.

  5. I was really pissed when CG cancelled the Rock’n’Roll Edinburgh Half. I gave my race virginity up to last year’s event, and the course is great. But I didn’t know about the Seven Hills race! What a blast that looks like. So I’ve just entered the challenge. See you there.

    • Hooray! Let’s hope for fabulous weather.

      Had you already entered the half? If so, have you received an e-mail from them explaining in any more detail? The more I hear, the more it points to them not having an influx of entries, and deciding to take a blow to their reputation over a financial hit. Which is downright shitty, considering the event wasn’t scheduled for MONTHS, and I’m sure with a bit of advertizing/promotion they could have easily upped entries.

      • Yeah, I registered very soon after they opened it up. They sent me a form email which was pretty well a duplicate of their press release – see below. The email blames “local support”. Responses on their facebook page went from “local support” to “low sign-ups”. I think you are right, the $$$ outlook took priority over their rep. The way they handled it, they have come over as pure mercenaries. I was considering heading to Dublin for their event there, but I won’t be doing that now.

        Hopefully, someone else will step in and pick up the route, because it is much more attractive than the EMF route (as you indicated). BUPA have set up a 10 mile Edinburgh city run which looks good. Perhaps they will extend that to HM for next year. Anyway, I’m looking at Arran now too 🙂

        “Dear Rock ‘n’ Roll Participant,
        Thank you for your support of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon & 10K scheduled for 29 June, 2014. At this time, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the event.

        A great amount of effort from our organization and our partners has gone into trying to operate this event for the third year, but unfortunately we were not able to secure the necessary local support to operate this event at a level that you would expect from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.

        We apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused and would like to offer you the following options:

        I would like to transfer my race entry to Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool on 25 May 2014.
        Transfer to another 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series event*
        Receive a complete entry fee refund
        *Excludes sold out events

        Please click here and select how you would like to proceed by 15 March, 2014. All participants who have not responded by this time will automatically receive a full refund of the entry fee which will be processed by 31 March 2014.

        If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at rnredinburgh@competitorgroup.com. We value your dedication to running and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and look forward to seeing you at another Rock ‘n’ Roll event soon.

        Rock ‘n’ Roll Edinburgh

  6. Whenever there’s a post hating on the RNR series, I feel like Mr. Burns twiddling his fingers in sadistic glee. Though I’ve run a few events myself and know they actually do put on a good race, their predilection for siphoning our wallets isn’t very endearing. And I’m the kind of person who usually signs up for a race 5-10 months in advance and tries to lock down early-bird cheap fares. So yeah, I’d be in the angry camp. Good call on providing people with alternatives.

    • I tend to plan inadvance as well, and sometimes that means leaving races off thel list that clash. In this case, I was planning on running RnR, which meant I didn’t enter the 7 hills race, as it would have meant to weekends in a row down in Edinburgh. I mean, that’s no bad thing, but when I go there, Ian and I usually stay with his sister, and I know how I can be about space invasion (of the non-extra-terrestrial variety)…

      Thankfully, the 7 hills race hadn’t sold out, so it looks like I’ve got a slightly longer, but much cheaper race in June.

      I do always detect a rather sardonic tone from you whenever the topic of RnR races come up – and I think I’m firmly with you on that now.

  7. I have never run an RnR and hate to trash talk a company I don’t have a lot of experience with BUT RnR has caused a bit of a shit show organizing their first ever race here in Raleigh this year. Scheduled the race and the road closures all over the city it will require on Palm Sunday morning, so basically every church in the city is ticked. I’m mostly just irked by it because it also was scheduled close to the same weekend one of my favorite local half marathons used to be. Ironically, that race used to be called the Raleigh Rocks Half so RnR has taken it over and it no longer exists. I think that, like you said, when you get huge race organizing entities like this they’re in it entirely for the $$ and not the run and the runners. The Disney race series rubs me the wrong way for similar reasons. Have an awesome time with whatever race you choose instead!!

    • Oh man, the Disney races, even being a complete medal whore, just turn me right off, but that’s nothing to do with the money-hungriness or anything. My main issue with Disney is that it seems to attract the type of woman who wouldn’t enjoy cyst-popping videos on YouTube, but who spends hours a day looking at themselves in the mirror/photgraphing their meals/believing that 800 calories of ‘keeeeeeeeeeen-wa’ and protein ‘cookies’ that look like vomit are enough to sustain a ka-jillion hours of running on the treadmill.

      I mean, I’ve got a couple of friends who are signed up for Disney races this year, and they are cool chicks, but as much as I dig fancy dress and running, I just get this feeling that I’d be as ashamed of myself for taking part in one as I would if I had fellated Putin in front of my grandmother.

      But yeah, RnR races can go suck a fat one, for all I care now. It would seem they cancelled Edinburgh because not enough people had signed up, despite the potential for thousands more to sign up in the months before it was scheduled. So, like you say, $$$…

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