Summerfest will provide refunds to participants in the inaugural Rock ‘n Sole races, which were marred by a lack of water and cups at aide stations along the race route Sunday.
According to an announcement issued late Thursday, participants will be eligible to receive a $15 refund from their entry fees, which ranged from $40 to $100, depending on the race and date of entry.
Options include the cash refund, directing the $15 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Wisconsin, or taking no action and having the $15 included in the net proceeds generated by the races. Those proceeds will be split between the Ronald McDonald House and Milwaukee World Festival Inc., which planned to use its share of the money to rebuild the children’s play area in Henry Maier Festival Park.
In addition, those who participated in the race on Sunday will be eligible for a 20% discount on their registration for the 2012 Rock 'n Sole and receive an extra two tickets to Summerfest with their entry. To receive the discount, entries must be submitted by March 31.
Details on obtaining the refunds will be provided at a later date.
Hundreds of participants complained about the poor organization of the race over the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge. The water stations on the bridge, in the first five miles of the course, were out of liquids or cups for most of the 10K participants, who started 30 minutes behind the half-marathon.
Tom Schuler, the race director hired by Summerfest took responsibility for the failure to provide adequate water on a day when the heat index approached 100.
“I miscalculated the volume of water and cups necessary at each aid station to adequately hydrate runners for both races,” Schuler said in statement issued Sunday.
“Water was allocated to all aid stations at the onset, but the proportions were not accurate for certain points in the races,” he said. “We clearly missed the mark and many of the 10K runners were affected by it. The plan simply should have been done correctly and I take full responsibility for the issues caused by this oversight."
Suffering dehydration and heat exhaustion, more than 50 participants sought medical attention during or after the race, and 20 were hospitalized. More than 6,500 started.
Don Smiley, president and CEO of Summerfest, sent a message to them: “While there were many fine aspects of the inaugural Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole, and although the race director and his staff have demonstrated personal integrity in dealing with various well publicized aspects of the race, the fact is, we had issues with the execution of the race that impacted runners, which simply are not acceptable.
“On behalf of MWF and Team Sports Events, LLC., we apologize to anyone who had an unpleasant experience, due to operational issues.”
The message did not indicate whether Team Sports would receive a contract to conduct the races in 2012.
Similar problems with heat and lack of fluids created problems in the Madison Marathon and 2006 and the Chicago Marathon in 2007. Offering refunds to the participants appears to be an unusual step in responding to the issues.