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5k 'Foam Fest' canceled; BBB warns of possible fun run scams

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A string of canceled fun runs in which organizers refuse to provide refunds prompted the Better Business Bureau to issue a warning about such events.

In a press release, the BBB says it's heard "lots of complaints about various fun runs that have been canceled with short notice, often with no refunds offered."

Participants who had registered for a 5k Foam Fest race in the Twin Cities next month are now foamless and out as much as $75 each, after a Foam Fest was canceled, KARE 11 reported.

Runners in the event, which was scheduled for Aug. 9 at Running Aces Harness Park, have been getting notices over the past week indicating the race would no longer be happening – and their registration fee would not be returned. The station says funds from the run were supposed to go to charity, but it's unclear where any of the collected money will end up.

And St. Paul runners aren't the only ones upset.

Reports from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Portland, Temecula, California, Reno, Nevada, and more cities carry the same story – race canceled, no refunds.

The July 15 Cleveland race was canceled due to what organizers termed "logistical reasons" just four days before the event, according to FOX 8.

The 5k Foam Fest website is now simply one page, a note saying the company is no longer in business as of July 17. Its Facebook page no longer exists.

An archived version of the site shows runs planned for 42 different sites, running from March of 2014 through July of 2015.

All future events have been canceled however, per the 5k Foam Fest's current website. The note says the organizers have neither staff nor funds anymore, "and will not be able to respond to individual emails or phone calls ... As we face bankruptcy we ask for your forgiveness and patience."

The BBB says the event was put on by Utah-based Round House Racing Team. The BBB has received 90 complaints from participants looking for refunds, all of which the agency is reviewing.

FOX 13 reporter Gene Kennedy (California) tweeted Monday he spoke with someone named David Ballard of the 5k Foam Fest.

On the 5k Foam Fest website statement, it says Red Frog events – a separate company – is offering one free and one discounted registration to some of its 2014 and 2015 fun runs, to make up for the canceled Round House racing events. It's unclear whether anyone has received those deals.

Based on social media postings, some of the races – such in Washington D.C., Seattle, and a few other places – did occur.

More canceled 5k races

The BBB also highlights the Electric Foam 5k, which shut down similarly last month after a string of canceled and delayed races, Runners World reported. One of the races that did happen – in Madison, Wisconsin – didn't have the "advertised" foam, and ran out of water, one participant told Runner's World.

The Electric Foam 5k website has a cancellation and company shut down notice that is very similar to the 5k Foam Fest site – but the Electric Foam event notice says GroupOn has processed refunds for their canceled events.

Then there's the Dirty Girl Mud Run, which this week canceled its planned event in Charleston, West Virginia – which was scheduled for Saturday. And the race isn't issuing refunds to those who registered, the Charleston Gazette says.

About 2,500 people signed up, paying $65-95 to enter; a lawsuit has been filed, the paper says.

One Imgur user posted an email she received about the cancellation (seen at right).

Race organizers also faced criticism this past February, when the location of a race scheduled for Raleigh was suddenly and inexplicably changed to nearly 89 miles away, reports.

A Dirty Girl Mud Run is currently scheduled for Aug. 2 in the Twin Cities.

BBB tips

The BBB says you should do your research before signing up for a fun run.

Check the BBB Business Review website, and make sure you understand terms and conditions (such as no refunds) before you agree.

Contact charities or local venues the run is claiming to be partnering with, to double-check the facts. Also document your order, and pay with a credit card so you can dispute the purchase later if necessary.

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