Racepass.com launched this week.
From their press release:
Launching today, Racepass, the first subscription-based membership for distance races, is reshaping racing with a platform that connects runners, race directors and race sponsors to get more people running more races. For a flat annual fee, Racepass membership covers full registration of a pre-set number of races for the year at a discounted cost, helping runners save more the farther they run.
My initial impression as a runner would be that Racepass.com has partnered with races to handle signups, or purchased entries at a discounted rate for resale. This is not the case. Races are listed on Racepass without the prior knowledge or approval of the races.
As reported on runsignup.com, Chase Rigby of Racepass says:
The coverage has been overwhelming, we have had hundreds of runners signing up every day and more and more outlets are covering it.
I was able to find a half dozen or so articles as of Thursday evening, mostly recapping their press release as well as the aforementioned article from runsignup.com. RSU posted the article after they heard concerns voiced by race officials after competitor.com pulled an article about Racepass.com from their site.
I want to to lay out some concerns. I have reached out to Racepass through email but have not received a response as of this writing.
Accepting Entries To Races Without Consent
Racepass.com is promoting and accepting entries to races with which they have no official affiliation or partnership. I have heard from and read posts from multiple race officials who have discovered that their races were listed on Racepass.com without their prior consent or knowledge.
Race officials are taking exception with a third party accepting entries to their races. One race official whose races are on the site said “We wouldn’t accept registrations via third party”. Another posted in a Facebook group that they will be reviewing the language on their waiver to make sure that it requires that the runner fill out and agree to the waiver themselves. Yet another has already sent a cease and desist letter.
The way it was explained in the RunSignUp article is that Racepass obtains the runner’s information and then manually sign them up on the race website using Racepass’s credit card. As it stands now, Racepass is basically posing as the runner, and signing off on the waiver. That raises a major concern regarding liability.
One race official whose races are on the site said “We wouldn’t accept registrations via third party”. Another posted in a Facebook group that they will be reviewing the language on their registration forms to add language so that they will not have to accept third party registrations.
In the RSU article Racepass does attempt to address this:
We are working hard on building out race director tools so that you can have access to runners data, emails, make bib transfers, special questions, donations, photos, etc. Those will roll out over the next months.
However, this still does not address the fact that they are doing this without the race’s prior consent or knowledge. They are in essence forcing the races to jump through hoops and work with RacePass to have access to the information they would normally have obtained at signup.
One comment from an official that contacted Racepass:
When I spoke with them directly, they were extremely dismissive of my concerns and even laughed at me when I tried to explain to them my concerns.
Now, I want to address some concerns I have in regards to the everyday runner.
Value For The Runner?
Currently there is no advertising on their site. The only apparent revenue stream is from runners signing up for one of the plans. Meaning that to be cash flow positive, the average runner will have to pay more to Racepass than they would have paid had they signed up directly through the race. Racepass have no known partnerships with the races, meaning they are paying the full cost of the entry (no discount) in most or all cases.
They do offer cancellation for ALL races within 14 days of the race. So, I suppose that might be worth paying the premium. But, this could get very costly if they have to eat these entry fees for non transferable entries.
“…at a discounted cost”
Yes, in theory, someone like a member of The Marathon Maniacs that runs 10 or more marathons a year that buys the unlimited package will save quite a bit of money. But with their current model, they would do so at the expense of the majority of their customers who would spend more through Racepass than they would had they signed up directly with the races.
I am skeptical that there will be many runners signing up for Racepass that use it for cheaper races. If Racepass miscalculated, they could very easily find themselves owing much more in race fees than they are bringing in.
I would not recommend that anyone sign up for this service to use for races that are not officially partnered with Racepass. I have not heard from any race officials that are fine with the Racepass system as it stands today.
It is my opinion that Racepass cannot continue to promote themselves on the backs of the races without the races themselves being on board.
- Racepass Does not have buy in with the races that they are promoting and accepting entries for.
- Racepass launched without contacting the races they are using to promote their service.
- There is question whether many races would knowingly accept entries purchased through Racepass.
- Racepass is Marketing itself as offering races at a “discounted cost” yet they are paying full price for the entries. As it stands now, in order to be profitable they need the average runner to pay more to Racepass than they would if they sign up with the races directly. There are no other apparent revenue streams.
If you have concerns or questions, you can attempt to contact Racepass – email@example.com
You can visit our Facebook page to follow the discussion. Many races are starting to chime in.
If you would like to support the site, please consider a small contribution. Contributions go towards everyday expenses related to running the site and compensating those that assist in pulling data, etc.
a fool and their money are quickly parted. Why would any runner sign up for this? So dumb even if it’s legitimate. It’s either a legal fleecing (meaning, they are hoping that thousands sign up and then forget to use their allotment) or you’ve uncovered a complete scam supported willingly and unwittingly by the running media. Hmmmm, we have a lot of that going on in this country right now…
“All the time, our customers ask us, ‘How do you make money doing this?’ The answer is simple: Volume.”
I wish somebody would investigate races and see if they actually donate money to the charities they claim in their ads! I am in NO WAY talking about the Boston Marathon!
I looked into this when I saw it posted at Runners World. Unless you run a lot of big races, it doesnt’t seem to make sense. I Iooked at local races and found a few that I typically run. With the three race package for $195, that would be $65 per race. Many of these races cost $20-$35 when I sign up directly (far enough in advance). So, if I did sign up I would only be looking at races that cost more and would expect others to do the same…
Rock N Roll has a 3 pack for $220 or so. You can register for any 3 US race for that price. If you do Vegas which even early bird price is about $100 plus fees, it’s a good deal! And you’re dealing with the company that is hosting the race, not some 3rd party BS!
Its funny even on their low end package I could easily make them lose money. 3 Races at $195 each is $65 a race they almost have to be hoping I will be signing up for some cheaper 5ks or 10ks or even cheaper half marathons. Mt Charleston which I did this year is $130 for next year bam right there almost to my goal throw in Saint George marathon at $90 and I am at $220 without even trying and still have a race to go. Pick my most 3 expensive races (I paid $94 to do Chicago spring marathon next Sunday and I am $316 for 3 races profit made). I am little OCD and keep track of my race costs this year so far I have signed up and paid for 9 races (2 were free) and have averaged $65.82 per race (I have 5 races in there where I have paid more than $65 in Mt Charleston marathon $90, St Patrick’s Hoover Dam race $71, Saint George Ironman relay team $154, Chicago spring half marathon $94.13 and Saint George Marathon $95). Last year I averaged $54.32 per race on 16 races with 4 free. This year my costs are a lot higher because I have not done a race shorter than a half marathon when I do shorter cheaper races it brings my costs per race down. Without looking at their races if they did the races in my area man I could fleece them good. I would just buy the yearly pass (as this year so far I have spent $592.37 and last year I spent $869.14) and go hog wild signing up for every race I wanted as I am spending that already per year. Heck local 5k lets go for it. I could easily double that $695.
Good overview of the potential problems with RacePass. From an event director perspective, having a third party, for-profit, venture sign individuals up for a race that RacePass has no relationship or authorization to act as a fiscal agent presents a lot of potential problems race directors and runners really don’t need or want to get involved with.
This is interesting, and there may be more room for racepass to operate than it appears on the surface…
The business model itself is pretty simple: Their customers won’t utilize the full value in registrations, either through registration fees that don’t add up to the total, or simply falling short on utilization. (Think of those really generous rebate discounts you have to mail in. A huge chunk of buyers who intend to take advantage of the rebate never do.) They’ll lose on a handful of runners, but not many. What their customers are buying is the convenience of filling out just one information form, instead of multiple race registrations. [Oh, and if they use a points credit card for all those registrations, that could add up to some serious miles.]
That being said, whether it works for them or not isn’t really any of our business. If it works, good for them. If not, they gave it the old college try.
One of the real issues is the legality of filling out waiver information by proxy. The only place I’ve seen where that’s allowed is if the entrant is underage, and then it requires a legal guardian. Without a power of attorney, you can’t sign legal documents on someone’s behalf. (I would be shocked if POA forms are in there, but it would potentially give them the authority. POAs are very narrow, so I’m not sure if you could make a blanket one for all race waivers, or a separate POA for each.) However, they would avoid that issue entirely if they stuck to races that required a printed waiver with a wet signature. (But there probably aren’t many of those left.)
Now, when it comes to runner information, since racepass is simply filling in the registration for the customer, the race will get everything it’s asking for. There wouldn’t be any discrepancy there. But there is nothing stopping third parties from signing people up for races. I’ve signed up my wife and vice versa. Granted, that’s small scale and not really a concern, but if racepass has figured out a way to get their customers to complete all the required ‘signatures’ (digital or otherwise), I’m not sure the races themselves have any legal means to stop them. (It all comes back to the waivers.) It seems they’ve simply applied American Express’s concierge services to races instead of flights, resorts, reservations, tickets, etc.
When push comes to shove, I wonder if many race directors will mind if it brings people to their events, so long as it minds the legal p’s and q’s. If it works (still a big IF for various reasons), expect the big players like Active.com or maybe Competitor Group to get in the game.
There seems to be a glitch on their map interface. At least on my iPhone, more than a few of their pins identify races, not where I was looking in western NY, but in Idaho and California… while still saying it’s in the local town. (Dang! I was hoping there were more local trail half marathons!)
It’s not something I would use, unless I were in physical and financial shape to use on strictly high-$ entry fees; it would not make sense for those quaint local 5K’s. I also am wary of the waiver issue. Bottom line, I’d prefer to buy locally, or from the original source. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare going forward.
Funny, the video they are using to promote this is from the Buller Marathon in the West Coast of New Zealand…. wonder if they have permission to use that
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