Kelly the Culinarian: My Thoughts on Dean Reinke and USRA

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Thoughts on Dean Reinke and USRA

You might have read today the tale of Dean Reinke, the man behind the race where I got my half marathon PR last year. Outside magazine wrote a fascinating piece about him titled "The Shadiest Man in the Race Industry." Based on the article, I would say I was one of the lucky ones when it comes to dealing with Dean. The race that was advertised did, in fact, happen. It wasn't the race as advertised, however (read my race recap now to see all the incongruities). Let me make this perfectly clear: this smiling race picture is not an endorsement of a great time at a USRA race. Instead, this is the smiling face of a girl who pulled out a PR in spite of a race environment that was not what was expected.
A smile is not an endorsement. Who doesn't smile for photos?
Even Napoleon was not impressed. And he's a dog.
Really, I was bewildered. I paid $35 for this race via Groupon and basically got what I expected, which wasn't much. We got a sticker medal, a cotton shirt and some 90-calorie chewy bars. Nothing wrong with a low-budget affair, but only if we weren't promised much more.

It was a crappy race, but nothing criminal (this time, at least). Sadly, he's not even close to the shadiest person in the race industry I've encountered.

If there's one thing you take away from the article and this post, it's to Google a race before you do it. See what other people are saying. If you're in the area, check out the Chicago Running Bloggers site so you're starting an event with eyes wide open. I was shocked when the article said people paid upward of $150 for this race. If I had paid that much for the Aurora Fox Valley Trail Half, I would have been livid. Since I purchased the race through Groupon, I knew I could get my money back from Groupon if it didn't happen. You don't get that luxury for most races - I lost out on my registration fee when the Last Try Triathlon didn't happen this fall because of the government shut down. These things happen if you race enough.

Deliberately taking money from people with no intention of delivering a service is a crime. Stealing from charities is not just a crime, it's a damn shame and a one-way ticket to hell. I feel terrible for the runners portrayed in the article and hope they weren't discouraged from racing again.  There are great, amazing, fulfilling races out there. Don't let one crappy race discourage you from a lifetime of enjoyment, networking, goal setting and achievement.


Katie @ Live Half Full said...

Very interesting!

Joanne said...

Thankfully, most of the NYC races i run are through NYRR, so they're all pretty legit...but I really should remember when I race in other cities to do more research!

Erica A said...

Wow! I have run hundreds of races and luckily have never had any issues like this... I have been occasionally underwhelmed with the goodies, but normally you get what you pay for! I would FLIP out if I showed up for a race that just didn't exist like that Freeport story! Wow.

Losing Lindy said...

I remember when you ran this race.

Anonymous said...

Alas, I fell prey to Reinke's races in Lafayette, IN. However, he got his just desserts when he used the name of Purdue University, the City of West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and the City of Lafayette without permission. He was sued in federal court and lost big time. I lost $65 dollars, but I've made up for it by making sure every runner I know hears of his exploits and the USRA.