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UPDATED: Fate of this weekend’s Dirty Girl Mud Run unclear

By Rachel Molenda, Staff writer
KENNY KEMP | Gazette file photo
The Dirty Girl Mud Run, which is scheduled for Saturday, may be canceled, officials said Monday.

This weekend’s Dirty Girl 5k Mud Run is in jeopardy. City officials and the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau said Monday the noncompetitive obstacle course race was canceled because of “financial issues” between the Dirty Girl Mud Run and Human Movement Management, the company contracted to produce the race.

Charleston assistant mayor Rod Blackstone said Monday the city hasn’t received the remainder of a $10,000 deposit from 100 LLC — owner of the Dirty Girl Mud Run — to pay for costs associated with the race. That money was due to the city on June 26, Blackstone said.

The event was scheduled to take place this Saturday at Cato Park in Charleston. Dirty Girl is a for-profit company and donates money “to support breast cancer prevention and awareness,” according to its website. This year, the organization partnered with Bright Pink — a nonprofit that focuses on breast and ovarian cancer prevention and early detection — as “an official charity chum.”

Blackstone said the unpaid remainder didn’t raise any flags for the city, but that officials “kind of got blindsided this last weekend when we heard that there were issues between Human Movement and 100 LLC” and that the race might be canceled.

On Tuesday, Blackstone said that Human Movement and 100 LLC were trying to work through their issues.

“We have been told that the companies would like to see if those issues could be worked out today before the city and Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau make any final determination about the future of the event in Charleston,” Blackstone said in a Tuesday statement.

CVB spokeswoman Jama Jarrett said Monday the organization had little reason to believe the race wouldn’t go on as planned. Human Movement produced a successful race last year with positive feedback from participants, Jarrett said.

“There was no red flags that this was not going to take place. We were having conversations. Everything was going as planned, so we were led to believe that this was still going to take place as scheduled,” Jarrett said.

Human Movement Management president Jeff Suffolk told the Gazette Monday the production company is trying to work with the city to see whether the race can still go on.

“We have a moral obligation to the participants, because we are runners ourselves,” Suffolk said of the company and its employees. “But right now, we don’t have any language. [The Dirty Girl 5k Mud Run] made a statement, and that’s that the race is happening or it’s postponed.”

A representative from Dirty Girl Mud Run told the Gazette in an email Monday evening that 100 LLC had not canceled the race set for this Saturday at Cato Park in Charleston.

“We are working with our event production crew, Human Movement Management, to resolve the current issues with our existing venue to hold the event as planned,” wrote Chief Marketing Officer Tia Mattson.

The Dirty Girl Mud Run posted to its Charleston, West Virginia, event page that the event would go on as planned.

“Charleston Dirty Girls, please note the event owners of Dirty Girl Mud Run have not canceled the event in Charleston, WV, as reported by the CVB and local media. Unfortunately, due to miscommunication, there are inaccurate reports the event has been canceled. Know that you will hear directly from Dirty Girl Mud Run should we have changes to announce,” the post stated.

It’s unclear what financial issues 100 LLC may or may not have. Suffolk said he is “not privy to” the financials of the company, which collects registration fees, sponsor fees and handles its own merchandise for the event. Suffolk wouldn’t speak about Human Movement Management’s experience with 100 LLC and whether it was paying his company for its work.

“I’m not going to answer that right now,” Suffolk said, as Human Movement tries to work with 100 LLC to see what can be done to hold the event.

This isn’t the first time Human Movement has had issues with race owners. Suffolk said the company laid off 17 people last week after a fun run called 5k Foam Fest announced it would cancel all future events after July 17. According to a statement on the 5k Foam Fest website, the organization is facing bankruptcy.

“[Foam Fest] went out of business last week and left us holding the bag with them in a massive way,” Suffolk said.

Human Movement also faced a similar situation after 5k Run for Your Lives went out of business last year, Suffolk said.

Blackstone said the situation is “fluid,” and that producing the race would be “an uphill battle.”

“The door is open, but barely. We’re looking to see what it might take to try to save this. It may be beyond saving, principally because, again the company that collected all the money is leaving people holding the bag,” Blackstone said.

Human Movement is contractually obligated to provide necessities like portable toilets, shuttles to and from designated parking areas, and site remediation at Cato Park after the race, Blackstone said.

Between 2,300 and 2,500 women were registered for Charleston’s Dirty Girl Mud Run as of Monday, Jarrett said. Participants were charged between $65 and $95, depending upon the date they registered, according to the Dirty Girl website.

Jarrett said the CVB hadn’t yet been able to speak with a representative at Dirty Girl, though someone called the office Monday.

While the CVB made a statement earlier Monday that said it feels Human Movement breached its contract, the organizations and the city are working to save the event, but it could be a day or two before anything is certain, Jarrett said.

For now, participants should “do what they’re comfortable doing,” regarding whether to cancel travel arrangements and contact the Dirty Girl Mud Run about refunds, Jarrett said.

“I know that’s probably not the best answer. I just don’t have a solid answer at this point as to whether or not we’ll be able to save that event,” Jarrett said.

Reach Rachel Molenda at rachel.molenda@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5102 or follow @rachelmolenda on Twitter.


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