Jeff’s Post – Social Media Frenzy!

I will admit I’m a bit of a social medial junky and I tend to go on overload anytime Tamara and I are participating in a big running event.  I’m following all of the updates on the race facebook page and I’m searching all of the twitter hash tags like a crazy man.  It is amazing how much information you can gather from both the event organizers and all of the fellow participants.

This past weekend many runners had a not so good experience with two running events and boy were they vocal.  The Hot Chocolate 15k/5k in Washington and the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half.  Tamara and I were on the plane flying out to Vegas to run the RnR race and we started seeing all the chatter about all of the issues with the Hot Chocolate Race.  Between Twitter and facebook we were burning up the plane’s wifi trying to keep up with all that was going on.  We would have been running that race if we weren’t going to Vegas.  We didn’t realize at the time that our own event was 24 hours away from a similar frenzy.  We had a good experience in Vegas (you can read our review here) but many did not and boy were they vocal.

It is interesting to see these companies and many more still trying to figure out the best way to handle social media.  At times it seems they can’t win.  I for one appreciate that we have a forum to share our opinions and comments and appreciate that the event organizers are watching the pages and responding the best they can.  I also hope that when we have a good experience we share those as well.  Sharing both the good and bad will make for a better race experience for all of us in the future.

Tracking tweets and fb messages at 36,000 ft

Comments

  1. I could not agree more! I am addicted too. Did you see that the Nevada health department is doing a whole investigation into the race?

  2. I ran Vegas and I can’t stop reading peoples recaps as well as the Facebook wall. Among other things, I’m shocked that the CEO ran the race, knew there was going to be a shortage of medals and then took one. Honestly, why would he run the race at all? Anyhow, I couldn’t make it to my proper corral because of the mob scene at the starting line and I was stuck in the finishers area for what seemed like forever. My friend puked on the course twice coming back up the strip. We are so thankful we had people waiting for us at Mandalay Bay with a car to take drive us back to their hotel where we could change and get some dinner — and I can’t believe we made it out of the hotel before all hell broke loose there. I hope everyone has recovered from getting so sick.

  3. Ryan McGrath says:

    You raise a good point: all too often people are very quick to complain, but not too often to give praise. It’s something you learn early in life, that if you have a bad experience, you’re likely to tell more people about it than if you have a good one. Directing a race is tough, and the last thing they want to hear is a million complaints. Constructive criticism, letting them know what they could improve, in a personal message rather than just slamming the event on blogs, Twitter or Facebook, is the appropriate way to get your point across.

    Of course I’m not suggesting you guys have done this, I enjoyed your race report from Vegas, and as I was considering going this year, and have it on the list for next year as a possibility, it’s important for others to be able to see what others liked, or didn’t like, about it.

    But I do think it’s funny to hear people complain about the crowds at Vegas: I just want to scream “You’re racing a Rock n Roll event – what did you expect?!” If you don’t want a big race, don’t do a RnR event. You can’t complain about the cost, because Competitor Group is a business and we’re the idiots paying that much to do their race. They should limit the field a little more, but they won’t. As you mentioned in your race report, you paid for the privilege of running on a closed down Strip, at night. I would say that it’s worth the experience, at least once. It comes down to expectations, and if you are running in the middle of the pack at one of their events, you just have to expect that it’s going to be crowded.

    Again, not directed AT you, just saying my thoughts! Good luck in 2012!

    • Ryan, you make good points. From my standpoint, the overcrowding was a surprise, as I’ve done Competitor events before and I did Vegas with them last year. Although the races are very much a circus in nature, they tend to have more organization then Vegas did this year. That said, my dollars will speak for me, and I did suggest changes to them when I filled out my post-race survey. They just bit off more than they could chew by increasing capacity and changing the race time in the same year. I’m over the Rock and Roll events myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the complainers go back next year and then pepper the page with negative comments again.

    • Karen Lopez says:

      I’ve run only 3 halfs, but lots of races. The problems at the RnRLV weren’t just the usual “I hate crowds” or “I couldn’t set a PR because there were newbie runners”. This race put people’s lives in danger, more than once.

      The scene at Mandalay bay was scary. So much so that I feared that one trip was going to end up with people being trampled to death. There was zero crowd control, no signage, no one stepping up to get people moving or to stop thousands more people from entering an area were there was no place to go. The fact that the casino allowed this is shocking. The fact that race organizers blame it on not being able to find enough volunteers is unacceptable.

      There was no water at many stops and none of the other things that people count on to get through the race. I always carry my own, but I was not carrying enough water for 13 miles. I had to do the trash can water because I had no choice.

      Sure I was frustrated that “runners” were walking arm in arm, 6-7 people across in front of me. That’s a regular race lament. Organizers can do much about that except have enough volunteers. I’ve been that volunteer at races.

      There was not nearly enough staff / vounteers. 44k people need assistance, whether it’s a race, a concert or a sporting event.

      I did get a medal, I did manage to get a bottle of water at the end. None of those would have mattered if 10 or 200 people died because organizers were not prepared. I read that Las Vegas will see at least $50million of economic benefit for this race. I hope that someone next year chooses to invest at at least $100k in safety for the runners and the crowds. And to read that they hope to reach 60k next year is just ego. Cut back to a size you can manage. prove it, then grow.

  4. I’ve been following the Vegas FB page also. I myself did not have the best time, but I’m satisfied that the negative feedback will cause Competitior to make changes. It is their business, after all. You can’t turn back the clock. Some of the people on FB seem to be out for blood. I’ve never experienced such vigilantism from runners before. Usually they’re pretty easygoing folks. I’m not sure if it’s the same people over and over or if it’s a very large group with all the complaints. I’d also like to know just how many people got sick. Was it a huge number, or is it just a few who are very actively posting about it?

  5. I liked a comment a lady left on the Hot Chocolate page, “These are FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS”. While I understand people’s complaints along with their right to make them, at least I don’t have to worry about my next meal or a roof over my head in such a prosperous land.

    As a sales and marketing guy, I love the quick feedback that these forums can provide. Damage control however takes on a whole new meaning. Looking at the comment #’s on Hot Chocolates facebook, we’re seeing 500-600 per post last check, many being ongoing conversations amongst even fewer individual posters….so maby only 300 or 400 folks are being vocal out of 22,000. It is hard to process this. The vocal are being extremely vocal, but thousands aren’t even bothering to complain, so one has to wonder what the appropriate response really should be.

    My response would be not to participate next year. Great post, Jeff!

    • Thanks for the comment Hank and agree – who knows what the real number is. Tamara and I are addicted to the instant feedback of these events. Lets hope that the event organizers are listening to the feedback and will actually do something about it!

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