The Color Run Responds

After being called out for using the Boston Marathon tragedy as an excuse for canceling the Boston-area race, we gave them a chance to explain.

Looks like fun, right? Too bad you won't get to participate unless you go to New Hampshire or Rhode Island.

Looks like fun, right? Too bad you won’t get to participate unless you go to New Hampshire or Rhode Island. (Photo via Facebook.)

After writing last week about how the Color Run was improperly sending out emails with an inaccurate excuse as to why they were not having a Boston-area race, I personally spoke with Race Director, Eric King, to get his opinion on what happened with the customer service fiasco. He was very apologetic and cleared up a number of things. First, even though the website had the July 2013 race listed as taking place in Amesbury, that was never the proposed location. Second, while he still won’t disclose which Boston suburb denied their permit, he says that blaming the Boston Marathon bombings for that denial was completely his opinion, and it was not supposed to be sent out to people inquiring about the Boston race.

Here is his unedited formal response:

Hi Melissa,

It was great speaking with you Friday – thank you for taking the time. This issue boils down to an inter-office miscommunication, but merits an explanation, so thank you for providing that opportunity.

First of all, I would like to say that we really want to bring The Color Run event to the Boston area and if possible, the City of Boston specifically. Boston is one of the premier running destinations in the world and we would love to bring “The Happiest 5K on the Planet” to your great city.

In an effort to secure a venue, we have applied to many different municipalities and private venues in the area for permission to host our event. It was after one of these efforts when the miscommunication occurred.

We felt as if we were close to receiving permission from a suburb near Boston to hold our event. I scheduled a visit to speak with a committee of decision makers in the suburb personally. This occurred the day after the Boston Marathon. Obviously, the tragic events of the marathon were fresh on everyone’s minds the next day.

While meeting with a police officer, who was a key component in receiving permission to hold our event in the suburb, I was informed that the police would no longer support the event. He gave a number of different reasons for the withdrawal of his support – one of them being he was nervous from a security perspective to bring our (potentially very large) event to his town.

At the time I interpreted this response as him being concerned that a similar terrorist attack could reoccur during our event and he didn’t want to take that chance. This was my perception.

This is where the miscommunication occurred. The next day, I talked to my customer service manager informing her that we had been denied and did not have a venue for the event. When she asked me what happened, I told her the police of the suburb pulled support. I relayed my opinion of how I felt like the bombing may have played into his decision.

Unfortunately, I was not clear enough in telling her that these were my opinions/perceptions. I did not intend for these opinions to be the basis of a formal response on the matter. I apologize for our mistakes and the confusion they caused and hope you and your readers can forgive our error.

Genuinely, we did not intend to mislead any Color Runners and want to focus on the fact that we are trying to come to Boston and have not cancelled our efforts. We hope The Color Run can find a venue near Boston very soon. Please stay tuned for updates.

While I appreciate King taking the time to contact me with his response, he leaves a few of my key questions unanswered, (both on the phone and over email) like why their email to me said the “City of Boston” was denying ALL permits based on the marathon tragedy (not true, as per the City of Boston), or why they said the City of Boston when it was clearly set for a suburb, or why customer service was allowed to send out those emails in the first place. We get that the Color Run is a young company, but when you have big name sponsors like Chevrolet, you should be a little more aware of what is happening.

Finally, maybe they should start to think that the reason a permit would be denied (is it really police officers that deny permits? Isn’t there some sort of, you know, agency that takes care of these things?) is because a city is scared that tons of color will be hard to wash off of their streets, even if it is food-grade corn starch that will “mostly” come out of your clothes. Perhaps they are concerned that means it will “mostly” come out of their streets? Whatever the formal reasons, it is a shame for the thousands of people that would have wanted to participate. If you want to sign up, you can attend the New Hampshire race in September, or the Rhode Island race in October.