Dear Philly 5 Mile,
Let me be clear: I love the idea of who you were supposed to be. A run + music festival? What’s not to like. However there is a lesson to be learned with your very brief existence. Truth be told, when you were announced I was one of those with sticker shock. $75 to run a 5 mile race??? Don’t get me wrong, there aren’t many races I won’t run. However if I’m paying $75, at minimum we better be talking the Half Marathon distance.
When you were first announced there began a very spirited discussion around your price, specifically in the Facebook group Run215. If you were someone who didn’t agree with the cost you were told “you don’t like it, don’t sign up.” At times people became very defiant towards those who did not agree with the cost. Well it appears as if the majority did, in fact, not like it because you are now canceled.
A lot of people came out in justification of your inflated costs. Instead of accepting the reality of the situation that you just cost way too much, they blamed it on the race falling on memorial weekend. While I agree there are difficulties holding a race the same weekend that most in the city leave for the beach, I just can’t agree this was the cause of your cancellation. In fact I took a twitter poll to gauge reactions. According to our poll the cost was the #1 issue. Cost was so much of an issue that it received more than double the votes than the date did. So let’s be honest about the real issue here.
I know you are a product of the folks at Philadelphia Runner. The same people that brought us your cousin, The Philly 10K. Two entities that are very successful in their own rights. I have bought shoes from Philly Runner and have ran every Philly 10K they have held, so I too think highly of them. Because of their success it was easy for them to keep rolling and provide the Philly running community with another fun event. And that, after all, was the purpose of who you were going to be. While the cost may have been inflated, no one believed it was to get the organizers rich.
However we have to be honest, The Philly 5 Mile was a swing and a miss. That’s not a bad thing. Even in baseball a successful batter strikes out more than he gets a hit. So please do not take this letter as offense. Instead, the purpose of this is to highlight the importance of a lesson learned.
How much did your race organizers listen to the community? Did they take us for granted? I consider myself pretty active within the Philly running community (this blog is a passion project after all) and I don’t recall any conversations being had about the race. All I saw were ambiguous messages on social media to “keep memorial weekend open” and that was it. Had they put together a focus group to ask what kind of price (along with date and other activities) people would be comfortable with maybe we wouldn’t be here.
Did they research the costs of similar events in the area? A lot of people called you “one of a kind” and “unique”. While I agree there was a uniqueness to you, no offense, you are not the first run + music festival. I mean just look at the Great American Brewery Runs scattered throughout the area. $35-$45 gets you a 5K, finisher swag, a post race music festival and food trucks. I understand there is a difference of 3.1 miles and your 5 mile distance, but is an extra 1.9 miles worth double the cost?
I don’t write to shame you or make you feel like a failure. Because you’re not. I absolutely can’t wait for The Philly 10K. And I need to head to Philadelphia Runner for new shoes ASAP. Even more so, I imagine I will get a chance to run you in 2017. However by then it is my hope that your organizers are open to listening to the community. I don’t think the community should set your price or time frame. However it would be wise to let them have an input.
A Disappointed Runner
4 thoughts on “An Open Letter To The Philly 5 Mile”
I think you meant “granted,” not “granite.
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I totally agree with your post and despite some of the backlash from certain running forums, I think it makes a lot of good points and I don’t think it sounds nasty or mean-spirited at all–just honest. Thanks for not being afraid to speak your truth.
Just to chime in, to think that the cost to run a race should correlate to distance is absurd. By that token, how does the Rocky Balboa 5k get away with charging up to $65? The Color Run $50ish? The Phillies 5k is $50? Not to mention, a lot of the people that were put off by cost blindly connected that cost with being just tied to the race. When I mentioned to people that it covered the race, plus the festival (which included food from Vetri, and beer from Yards), their tune changed a bit. The fact is events like that aren’t cheap to put on. I know from personal experience how hard the people at Philadelphia Runner work and how strongly that feel about both their presence and their perception in the running community. Truth is, I work for Yards and I more than likely could have asked for a free bib for the 5 Mile, but I didn’t. I paid for two, one for me and one for my gf. The reason? I see absolutely nothing wrong with paying for the kind of experience I was sure to get. And finally, just to be honest, your condescension and holier than thou attitude isn’t lost on anyone here. It’s easy to sit here on your blog and pass judgement on those that tried to give this great running community of ours, which by my estimation has benefited greatly from the presence and passion of the people at Philadelphia Runner, a truly great day. What isn’t as easy is to actually voice criticism and give constructive feedback. You or I could put on a 5 mile race for about the same price as the races I listed above, but could we coordinate the rest of it, do we have the resources, knowledge or even know how on the logistics of it? No, we don’t and that is why I will always entrust that to the people at PR. If they did it tomorrow, I would sign up again. And as for there being no conversations about the race, why would there be? PR knows enough about their community, plus they get feedback from so many other avenues. How would you suggest they do that? They never did it for the 10k. Until after, when they did their surveys which asked about the experience. If you want them to do more research and start a conversation, how do you suggest they pay for that? Blind criticism without reasonable solutions is nothing but armchair critique, which to many holds less value than saying nothing at all.
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