Controversy continues to dog the USRA Half Marathon Series and its founder, Dean Reinke. Runner’s World reports that the URSA does not have the necessary permits to hold a half marathon scheduled for Saturday in Columbia, South Carolina, and, in fact, never filed for them.
“To date, there has been no submission of any permits pertaining to the Columbia Half Marathon,” Jennifer Timmons, public information officer at the Columbia Police Department, told Runner’s World. People who had registered received an email on Monday saying the race would be rescheduled for 2015, but did not mention anything about entry fee refunds. As of Wednesday, the USRA website still listed the Columbia Half Marathon on its calendar.
Reinke, who founded USRA Half Marathon in 2009 and worked as race director, responded to a Runner’s World email asking for clarification by simply saying, “I am not involved.”
USRA Half Marathon has a history of shirking runners who paid their entry fees well in advance, only to show up on race day to empty streets and no race to run. Critics complain of delayed or nonexistent payments to police departments, vendors, and charities. That narrative played out for a 2010 race in Lexington, Kentucky. “What didn’t go wrong?” Anna Seitz, a marketing assistant for thoroughbred auction firm Fasig-Tipton, told Outside contributor Gordy Megroz for his March 2014 feature on Reinke. Fasig-Tipton had secured use of a facility for the start and finish of the run. “He wouldn’t pay the charity, Blue Grass Farms, or the vendors, and we ended up doing most of the work,” Seitz told Megroz. Yet when Reinke met with Lexington city officials to request a permit for a 2011 race, he denied everything. The officials ended up not granting the permit.
Things haven’t changed. KRQE in Albuquerque reported in August that Reinke advertised the City of Albuquerque as a sponsor of a 2014 half marathon that was supposed to take place in July but was canceled two days before the event. He also said the proceeds would go to the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, but neither was true. Habitat sent Reinke a cease-and-desist letter, ordering him to stop using the organization’s name and logo. Even so, the USRA Half Marathon website listed Habitat for Humanity as a sponsor for a December 7 half marathon and 5K in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Nothing indicates that the race was ever run.
Habitat for Humanity did provide volunteers for the 2013 Albuquerque half marathon in exchange for a cut of the race proceeds, but according to KRQE, Reinke didn’t pay until almost a year later, and even then Habitat only got $75.
It’s unclear who is in charge of USRA Half Marathon now that Reinke claims to not be involved. His contact info is still up on the organization’s website and Facebook page.
“It seems like the business has fallen apart,” Megroz told Outside. “But this has happened before and he’s risen from the ashes.”