The No Refund / No Exchange Policy (And Why We Have It)

No RefundsUpdated October 17, 2017:

Paine to Pain does not permit the sale or transfer of numbers. But it isn’t because we are money-hungry jerks. This is, after all, a non-profit and all of the race committee, myself included, are volunteer.  These are the reasons:

First off, we now offer “Stupid-Cheap” registration right after one race closes, for the next year, at just 30 bucks. Yet it costs us $40-45/runner to put the race on.

So why sell entries for $35 if it’s a losing proposition? Two reasons:

1.         Those that register a full year in advance do so because they love the race, and that means they’ll tell their friends about it! We’re not shy about this: Word of mouth is our best marketing!! Have you seen the reviews?

2.         We know that the best laid plans of mice and runners often run astray, and that many of you won’t be able to make it.  (Our no-show rate for this grouping of super-duper early birds has been about 38%.) But you want a good deal! And you will try to get to the start!  It’s like legalized gambling! (And having goals is a huge motivation, right?)

Best excuse we ever heard:  Our not-so-humble Race Director signed up for this race (and paid!) a couple of times when he couldn’t run it due to injury or because it got too big to both run and direct. And…he didn’t give himself a refund.

Of course, if folks violate our rules and give unused bibs to friends at the last minute, there is no reason for us to continue the stupid-cheap bib program. Basically, we’d lose money (which sucks for a non-profit) and there would be less to devote to trail improvements, and we’d have to raise our prices (and hire someone to track transfers. Blech!!).

Men’s 2017 champ Arnaud Enjalbert

So you get stupid-cheap in exchange for a bigger risk of no-show due to injury, or conflict with your yet-to-be born nephew’s party celebrating that he’s now 3 months old and big enough for the baby jogger so your sister can race around town with him as she works off the pregnancy weight but won’t be able to use on Paine to Pain because it’s on trails!

We also know that others who sign up in advance of a race — sometimes just a month before — will also have no-shows. There will be injuries, weddings your spouse told you about but you forgot to add to your calendar (sorry honey!), inclement weather and other parts of life that affect our plans. That is one big reason we give bigger discounts for earlier registration, as the later you register the more likely you are to actually run.

Some people will ask about refunds, deferments to the following year, or transfers to another runner, and some might be unhappy when we say no. But if we say no, the least we can do is offer you the reasons:

1.  The reason we can keep the price of the race so low is because we factor in approximately 25% no-shows. If discounted bibs are transferred, the whole point of the discount evaporates. And that means charging everyone a higher price to account for the transfers.

2.  When ordering food, medals, shirts and toilets, we account for the no-shows.

3.  We don’t have any staff to deal with the transfer requests that we get — with a couple hundred no-shows each year you can understand the scale of the issue. The race is organized by a non-profit running group, and our race committee is 100% volunteer.

4. Transferring numbers is also a headache, as it messes with the age group results. If a 30-year-old runs with the number for a 50-year-old, that person will foul up the age group standings. In February 2012 a marathon winner was disqualified for running with a friend’s bib. We will do the same, and reserve the right to ban you from future events. But we really, really don’t want to do that. We just want to have some fun racing through the woods and raise money to improve the trails.

So please, please, please don’t use another person’s bib, not just because it’s against our rules or you fear our ungodly wrath, but because those rules were created for real reasons by our little running club. This is not NYRR and this is not the Rock ‘n’ Roll series with huge staffs and massive budgets.

Please honor our honor system.

In essence, we hope you understand our simple-stupid approach meets our desire to do four simultaneous things:

  1.  Put on a top quality event;
  2.  Keep the registration fees as low as possible;
  3.  Maximize the efforts of our volunteers toward race-related duties; and
  4.  Raise money to improve the trails.

If you like reading about how to put on a trail race, and wondering how many people your trails can hold –>This How to Measure Trail Capacity for a Race

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