I don’t normally talk bad about races or even really write about something that I know is controversial but this has me MORE than fired up.

I should mention before starting my little rant that I used to work for National Marathon [what Rock N Roll USA was before it got bought by Competitor Group]. I don’t have anything against them or the race and am on good terms with everyone I used to work with, but that doesn’t mean I find it any less insane when I found out you HAD to go to DC to pick up your race packet for this race.

Up until today I was under the impression that EVERY single participant in this race had to make their way down to the Armory in DC to pick up their packet. THIS IS INSANE for many reasons but most of all because it’s clear that the reason for this is so that they can make more $$ off of people coming to the expo.

I live about an hour outside of DC and have three little children. On a good day with no traffic it takes about an hour to get to the Armory – on a day with traffic and that is almost every day in this lovely DC metro area – it can take up to 2 hours. Nevermind the fact that I live in this area. If you don’t live close to here this means that you have to leave work early or take off work completely in order to make your way to DC to pick up your packet before the expo closes at 8pm.

After I saw this I decided I was not running the race. There was no way I was spending hours of my day on Friday dragging two kids down to DC while Kid #1 was in school to then make my way into a an overcrowded expo and get my 1/2 race packet. I know for a fact that I wasn’t going to buy anything at this race expo because I NEVER do. I don’t get sucked into thinking there are good deals there that I can’t find elsewhere.

I should also note that I didn’t pay for my entry to this race. As a former Ambassador for National Marathon I was given an entry to this years race. I should probably also note that by writing this post I am probably destroying any chance of being an Ambassador for any Competitor Group races, but it’s the chance I’m willing to take to get my point across and stand up for us *little people* who just love to run and don’t make a million dollars a year.

Today I get my final instructions email for the race, that I was sure I was not running, till I saw that there were NEW rules for someone picking up your race packet.

Excitement ensued – maybe I will run the half if someone can pick up my packet……

Then I read this:

Help Your Friends At the Expo

Due to heavy downtown traffic congestion during the work week you will be allowed to pick up your friend’s packet at the Expo under these guidelines:

  • You may pick up your packet and one friend’s for no extra cost. If you pick up additional packets you will be charged $20 per packet. You can pick up a maximum of four packets, including your own.
  • You must have a copy of the photo ID and the original signed Confirmation Sheet from each person whose packet you are getting. Download Confirmation Sheet
  • Once you get to the Expo, bring these items directly to the Solutions table to receive your packets and pay for service (if applicable).


As if the country wasn’t just in a recession now we have to pay $20 to pick up someone else’s packet for them? Well you might say – you can get one packet for FREE. Oh how nice of them. If my husband was registered this means I could pick his up and not have to pay – again – oh how nice of them.

The thing that really gets me is I have worked races – many races and I know that its actually easier having one person pick up a bunch of packets[within reason].

The benefits of picking up other packets mean that less people are at the expo – so it’s less crowded. Less crowded means that less people drove down to the armory and thus didn’t cause even more traffic congestion than there already is. More cars = more pollution.

Funny how they tell you to take mass transit on race day to avoid congestion but don’t suggest this for the expo.

This whole thing isn’t about making sure that someone is not using someone else’s bib much like they do at the Boston Marathon. It’s about making money. It’s a very sad sad day when races no longer CARE about the runners running their races and only see us people who open up our wallets to stuff their pockets.


So sound off…..what do you think about this $20 packet pick up fee? What if anything would you say to Competitor Group if they were reading this blog post??? Have you run a Competitor race? Did you like it? Will you keep running their races?




  1. I’ve never run a Competitor race and probably never will. I’ve heard so much negative feedback about their practices (ex: unsanitary water distribution) & policies such as this that it’s completely turned me off. Regardless of their motives for charging the $20 pick up fee it’s just wrong. I can’t fathom how they mathematically justify that cost.
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  2. ok – i am SERIOUSLY bummed about the $20 pick up fee! i just found out about it yesterday – and at first was so excited they came to their senses to let us pick up friends bibs, only to have my bubble quickly burst when i learned there was a fee for it!

    i feel like race fees are so high these days – and to be honest i am willing to pay them for races that are exceptionally organized and supported, which i feel RnR does a stellar job of in my experience. BUT i feel this is ridiculous and just another way to make a buck. RnR already doesn’t allow transfers or deferring (NO exceptions – i tried when i was pregnant in 2010) and this fee irritates me.

    i’m planning to head to the expo after i take kid #2 to preschool on thursday and bring the baby with me. it will be a mad rush because i will have to get all the way back to reston in time to pick the two big kids up from school – a small window of time. i won’t have a second to shop even if i wanted to!!

    great post, D! i’m glad you raised the subject and hopefully it will inspire a good discussion and perhaps shed some light on the situation from different perspectives.

    jessica (pace of me) recently posted..race week – monday!My Profile

  3. That’s so BS. Total BS and money making tactic. I am so tired of these big races just trying to make a dime on everyone! I pretty much stick to local races put on by smaller groups! They are cheap, less busy and don’t seem like a money making scheme. I sort of feel that way about the Dirty Girl Runs. Love love love the idea but $75.00 for a 5k? I can.not.pay that. Had I gotten a free entry, sure but no way will I pay that. My half next month is local and only costing me 30.00.
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  4. This is so completely ridiculous! If they wanted to avoid heavy congestion in the area, doesn’t it make MORE sense to allow people to pick up another packet? After the whole RnR Las Vegas debacle, I have concluded that Competitor doesn’t really care about runners, rather they just want to make as much money as they can off of us. :-(
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  5. The price of races are already getting high, then charging extra for packet pick up for a friend, is down right crazy. I am already turned off by the Rock n’ Roll series and I have never raced one of their races before. Someone once told me that the sport of running is cheap, that personal obviously never raced, had good tech clothing or a good pair of shoes.
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  6. Wow! $20 to pick up someone else’s packet?!?!?!?! That is insane. I’ve never even heard of a race charging anything for picking up someone else’s packet. I picked up my husband’s packet for a race last weekend at Charm City Run and all I needed was a written note from the hubs.
    I’ve never run the national marathon or national half becuase they’re so expensive.
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  7. My favorite race was a local half marathon through country roads that cost $15 to enter. 2 aid stations, no closed course, and no t-shirt or medal, but wonderful camaraderie with 100 people who truly enjoy running – nothing more, nothing less.

    After that experience, I made it a rule that I won’t run a Rock N Roll race. I’ve heard too many bad things about them, and really can’t justify paying out the wazoo when there are so many local, more organized, and FUN races that cost so much less.

    This only reaffirms my decision to avoid the Competitor Group. I’d take a small group of passionate runners over commercialism and a cheap medal any day.
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  8. Wow! That is just crazy!! Especially in such a busy area like DC!! And charging for packet pick up for more that one friend…that is too much. I understand that for some races it may be difficult to have packet pickup the morning of the race but these race companies forget that we as runners are doing them a favor by participating, not the other way around. Most of us have jobs, or kids or both to content with and cannot spend 3 hours picking up packets. Good for you for sounding off…I am right there with you.

  9. I don’t understand the rationale for the charge either, especially since one can be picked up for no charge but no more than 4 anyway? I’ve never run a Competitor race and doubt I ever will. There are plenty of smaller, way more interesting events to run out there instead of major events like theirs. Of course, chain stores and restaurants turn me off as well – pretty much the same mentality!
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  10. I can’t even begin to put into words how ridiculous this is. I think this officially means I will not run one of their races again; I’ll stick to Virginia Beach this weekend for good with Shamrock, where the atmosphere is friendly, fun and less crowded.
    David H. recently posted..5 reasons I love ShamrockMy Profile

  11. wow…races are pricey enough anymore without needing another $20 to pick up extra packets! One more reason that I will stick with my trail races which one are a more environmentally conscious and not killing peoples pocketbooks during a time when simply driving comes at a high price due to gas!
    Indi recently posted..A Better Run Ahead!My Profile

  12. These large companies think they can just add on fees for everything.. it is makes me really upset.It is already expensive enough just to do the race and then add in all of the hidden costs and it is simply not affordable for the average person. Will everything in this country now become only for the rich. It is really upsetting. I search out the smaller races for this very reason.
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  13. I have run a competitor race with no problems and will probably run more. However, I think that this $20 fee is ridiculous. I live about 30 minutes (on a good day) from DC so I totally understand where you are coming from. I get anxious just thinking about driving into DC alone with 2 kids. I also hate the metro system because it’s so unreliable.
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  14. I had already decided to wait a year and see how they handle the race. Now I’m even less likely to run it. I live on the metro line and am volunteering with a vendor at the expo, so I’ll be metroing to the expo on two days. I think the $20 fee is absolutely ridiculous! I’m sure this race is already a huge money maker or they wouldn’t have bought it, so why nickel and dime everyone?
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  15. I guess I’ve run a lot of Rock ‘n’ Roll races and am used to the forced packet pickup … this is the first time I’ve ever seen them let you pick up someone else’s packet. The $20 charge is ridiculous, though.

    Even though I have a group of friends planning to go in together for the expo Friday morning, I’m not going to have any of them get mine to make sure nobody has to pay. I live about an hour outside of DC too, but work kind of close to Metro so it won’t be *that* inconvenient.

    You do know that they also charge $5 for runner tracking, right? Even Disney offers that for free!

  16. A fee to pick someone else’s packet? Number one, ridiculous. $20 for the ability? Outrageous!

  17. While I think the $20 pickup fee is ridiculous, I think when you sign up for a larger race, you kind of have to assume you’ll need to go to the expo to pick up your packet. We always have to drive 45+ minutes to get to the Dallas White Rock expo, but we know that when we register. The fact that you can’t figure out what to do with your kids isn’t the race’s problem.

    • Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal says:

      I have never once had a problem with a race expo! And have worked at Boston expo, NYC expo, Chicago expo, National expo and Marine Corps – races do not NEED you to be present to get your #. For most marathons I just get friends to pick it up for me, not because I can’t go to the expo but b/c I prefer to rest my legs and don’t want to be walking around on carpeted concrete floors. You are missing the point – I COULD get people to watch my kids. The point is why is there a $20 fee for picking up a packet?

  18. The $20 packet pick up fee is absurd! I have never heard of such a thing and it is ridiculous!!!! I have never run a competitor group race before, however, I did sign up to run two of their races this spring. After everything that happened in Vegas and now this, I wished that I never would have signed up. After this spring I will never run a competitor group race again. Don’t make us pay extra because we love to run. Stop taking advantage of us and our sport!!!!! Just because they are greedy SOB’s doesn’t mean we should have to pay the consequences.
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  19. That $20 fee is ridiculous, as is the runner tracking fee Competitor charges. Minor fee, yes, but they already have a sponsor providing the service for free – so the charge is just profit. I guess that’s why I stick to so many medium-sized city races. Competitor is ruining races – making them into a huge commercial agenda. I ran one Rock ‘n Roll race last summer and have since vowed to never run one again. I actually enjoyed the big expo (we went early while most people were at work), but the race itself was so over-crowded, I had my worst time ever. There was no time to look around as I was too busy focusing in front of me for safetly sake. The course was unprotected in vital spots – crowds of fans spilled onto the course, cutting down runner lanes. R’nR registration is super expensive and they only offered men-sized shirts with very little other goodies in the race bag. Our local race has more goods for have the cost. Oh, I could go on and on about R’nR races…
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  20. I am in absolute agreement with you! I think it is ridiculous. I am actually taking a half day at work in Philadelphia so that I can take the bus down and pick up my packet (even though I’m injured now and not running) and my fiance’s packet, since he cannot take the half day as well. Then he has to drive down separately later. Thank goodness they give you a “freebie” for one pick up.
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  21. This is a tough one – I know I’d be pissed if it was my race though. Was the packet pick-up policy known when you registered for the race? If so, then I guess it’s something to take into consideration before registering, to see when you’re available to go. If not, then it’s absurd – very bait and switch. I mostly enjoyed the RnR race in New Orleans, but I also don’t really expect much other than lots of volunteers and water. :)
    Heather @ Better With Veggies recently posted..Tuesday Training is Back!My Profile

  22. If they need more money to make race more profitable.. Charge it up front, stop nickle and diming people!

  23. @ Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal:
    They’re trying to discourage people from picking up other people’s packets. Sorry, but this is basic marketing. If people don’t like it..pick up your own packet! Walk in, get it, walk out. You don’t have to walk around at the expo for three hours. Your legs will still be rested. I promise. For this race, they’re doing things differently. Race training teaches us to adapt, doesn’t it?

  24. Michelle says:

    The sad thing is that RUNNING is FREE. Okay so you need to purchase clothes and shoes, but other than that the rest of the sport comes at no monetary cost. Your body, the air you breathe and the roads you run on are free for you to use. I understand the entry fees for races (and even those can be insanely high) but to start charging $ for these additional things is wrong. Go run your own 1/2 this weekend on those roads in South Riding. I’m sure it will be better than running with a crowded 1/2 in DC anyways :-)

  25. Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal says:

    @ Heather @ Better With Veggies:
    Great point Heather! That’s why I gave the disclaimer that I did not pay for the entry fee – I wouldn’t have paid to register if I had known I had to pick up my packet. Sure I may have gone to the expo anyways to see friends but I don’t like knowing that I don’t have a choice and can’t last minute ask a friend to get it for me with a signed sheet. The $20 fee is new since they are now allowing others to pick up packets which apparently they don’t do at any other race. I guess the question also is how do they justify the fee – why does it need to be there other than they are trying to make up for what they believe will be lost revenue from a runner going to the expo. :)

  26. I am interested to hear how they can justify a $20 price tag for something that would seemingly not add any difficulty to the bib process on their side. Why are they trying to discourage friend pack pickup?

  27. Ridiculous! Exactly the reason I did not sign up for this race as well. I am glad you voiced your opinion no this and I truly hope that Competitor DOES read this — lack of integrity is not a reputation that any company should be proud of.

  28. That’s outrageous. I ran two Competitor (Rock N Roll) halves last year – Chicago and Philly, and I can safely say that I’m done with that company and their races. The races are ridiculously overpriced; both races gave out unisex shirts — yeah, no women’s shirts!; both races had water stops that were out of Powerade when I passed (and I’m a 2:20-2:30 half’er, so there were plenty of folks behind me) or unmanned. At Philly I heard that the SAG wagon picked up the folks who fell off pace and then DROVE them to just before the finish line and had them get out so they could cross the line and get their medal…seriously?

    And then there’s the whole “rock n’ roll” issue. For a series of races that is branded on music, you would think they could do a better job of having on-course entertainment. In each of the races I ran, there was maybe 1 band per mile. Come to the Columbus Marathon (or our local half in the spring) and there are 3-4 bands per mile…much more of a rock experience at a cheaper cost!

    So, this ridiculous fee just seems to be the icing on the cake for me. I wish people would stop falling to their hype — if enough people stopped running their races, they’d get the message!

  29. Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal says:

    @ Stacy:
    Stacy I completely understand what you are saying. I know it’s marketing. I love marketing but what I don’t love is taking advantage of people. I don’t mind paying a ton for a race that’s worth it – heck I just paid $250 or something to run NYC. I would rather they upped the price of the entry fee rather than charging fees left and right just to make an extra buck. I understand making $$ and know that everyone has to do it – but there is a difference between making money and flat out taking advantage of people.

    What frustrated me about your comment is that me not wanting to go to DC has nothing to do with my kids – I put in that I have kids to make the point that people are busy and can’t always make it to a race expo. I’d be interested if you knew of any other major marathons besides Boston Marathon that does not allow a friend to pick up your packet for you.

  30. Wow. I had already planned to take a half day on Friday anyway to get my packet, since I have a team function on Friday afternoon in Arlington. But this is ridiculous. I’m going to run the race, since I’ve trained too hard for this and spent too much money already (oh, and I raised funds, so I guess it would be bad to back out now…). But I was already leery about Competitor going into this race, and this will most likely be my last Rock & Roll race. It’s not worth it.

  31. I ran RnR Savannah last year and could not believe they put the packet pickup on an island! The traffic was backed up for hours! I ran this race because it was only two hours from home and Savannah is a great town, but the extra fees were crazy. Tracking $5, bus ride to the start $20, etc… I also noticed that the race shirt was sub par with the one they were selling at the expo! That really pissed me off. The race was okay, except that I was expecting a lot of music on the course and that was a let down (kind of what I paid for). I ran Disney and even though I paid some crazy prices, the support and entertainment on the course was incredible (I got what I paid for).

  32. That is infuriating! I”m glad you decided not to run. I’m running but I live here and work in the city. But, $20 to pick up someone’s packet? That’s an outrage .I hope more people speak out!
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  33. Rock and Roll events are notorious for NOT allowing any but the registrant to be able to pick up their race packet so this does not surprise me at all. It must be their new way to make money off people. The Chicago marathon allows you to pick up other packets for no fee. It’s all about money to Competitor.

  34. I just posted about high races fees the other day on my blog! I am totally over Competitor Group and their overpriced, overcrowded racs. Charging $20 to pick up a packet? How does that even make sense? Where does it cost them any amount of money to have someone else pick up your race packet? Oh yeah, they lose out on parking fees and the chance that you might buy some crap at their expo. Disgusting!
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  35. I ran the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Pete race in February and felt that some the things they were planning to charge me for were insane! I say that because I didn’t actually pay any additional costs because I live in that area and planned ahead of time. One of the biggest issues for me was the course! When I registered, I was super excited to run a half marathon through my hometown and was able to get in as one of the first 500 (only $55) so the registration didn’t really bother me. The problem was that the course was not a loop! The start and finish lines were no where close to each other and certainly not walking distance after 13.1 miles! They charged people $15 to park at the starting line and then another $5 to shuttle them back after the race! Luckily, my boyfriend was there so I could avoid that issue but I was very disappointed in that aspect of the race.
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  36. I have run two Rock N Roll races, and luckily have had excellent luck both times.

    One race was in my hometown, and I plan on running it again this year. The other was in New Orleans – I did panic at first, because my last name was different from what I registered with. I had to bring two forms of photo identification in order to get my packet – now this I realize could be inconvenient for some, I luckily have both a driver’s license and a passport.

    I cannot believe that they are charging $20 per extra packet for pick up – b.s. really. There’s no way it costs their people or their company $20 per packet to look up the info and give it to the person’s “representative.”

    Their race prices are ridiculous enough – if it weren’t for special deals and discounts during most registration periods, I wouldn’t register at all.
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  37. I have run a total of 8 RNR races, and every single one of them have had serious issues. All of the recaps are on my blog. You can read them and see most of the issues are completely fixable if they would stop trying to expand and start trying to better what they have.

    I also have a bib for this race, but I got into the NYC lottery, so if anyone wants it, have at it!

  38. Question: How many of you have picked up multiple packets? Truthfully. At a large race such as this one?

    Remember, they do let you pick up one friend’s packet for FREE. Some of the comments make it sound like they are charging $20 for the 1st friends packet when in fact it’s free.

    Dorothy, you have many friends in the running community, I find it very hard to believe that you couldn’t find one person who could pick-up your packet whom didn’t have to pick up any additional, so that would’ve been free. You’ve seriously burned bridges here.

    • Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal says:

      Doug – You are right! I have many many people who have offered to get my packet – but that’s not the point – what about other people who aren’t as fortunate as me? The race fee is the point. Burning bridges? Since when does my advancement matter more than being truthful honest and caring about the runners that read my blog or that I meet on a daily basis. I’d rather be honest with my readers than lie about my thoughts/opinions just to keep Competitor Group or anyone else for that matter happy with me! Thanks for your thoughts though :) Have a wonderful day!

      p.s. I have picked up many packets for friends at races. I’ve run Marine Corps 6 times and have always either picked up someone else’s packet or had them pick up mine!

  39. So counter-intuitive. Do they do this for all of their events, or is this just special DC treatment? And if this is standard operating procedure for them, how on earth are they still so popular? Wow…
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  40. @ Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal:

    No joke — they charge for runner tracking. They sent out an email a few days ago (no mention of price) that links you to https://www.competitorwireless.com/ (still no mention of price).

    It’s confusing though … On second look maybe if you’re a runner you can invite up to three people for free, but it’s hardly obvious.

    If you select ‘I am a spectator’ it’s $2 for the first runner and $1 for each additional runner you want to track.

    If you search from the ‘I am a Runner’ section, it shows a page asking to choose how many “5-for-$5 packs” I would like to purchase (basically, send five friends/family members your tracking.)

    But it looks like you can enter up to three email addresses to invite people (or yourself) for no charge.

    The messaging is odd … I just “invited” myself and the email I got said “Hi there! Lauren Cxxxx has paid for you to track them during the SunTrust Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon & CareFirst Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon …”

    Oh no, I didn’t pay!

  41. @ Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal:
    I registered last night for my finacee to track me, and was not charged a thing. They give you three free email address to send out to friends/family, that are free. If you are going to have more than three people tracking you, then yes you do have to pay the 5$.

  42. @ Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal:

    Nope, it’s true. When I ran the RnR St. Petes they charged $5 for runner tracking. Such a shame.
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  43. Say WHAT?!?! They’re charging people to pick up envelopes?!?! That’s absurd. I’ve never run an RnR race (I don’t know what else Competitor puts on) and I never will. I swore them off after hearing about the Vegas debacle, and this is just icing on the cake.

    They are not interested in promoting running, encouraging healthy lifestyles, or listening to their customers. They are interested in profit margins. I find that despicable, coming from a ‘running’ company. Let’s keep the running community clean, OK?!

    I hope RnR and Competitor are reading this, and taking what we’re all saying to heart. Then again, if they don’t, there are plenty of smaller, cheaper, more rewarding races for us to participate in.
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  44. I get why the entry fees to the larger, big city events are high. There is a lot of costs to cover with running those events. But to nickel and dime participants at every turn is insane. In fact, with this stunt of charging $20 to pick up someone else’s packet, saying it’s ‘nickel and diming’ is being kind.

    I love to run, and I enjoy the races to test and see how I’m progressing. Plus, it’s just a fun experience to run with a mass of other people. Yet, it can get costly between entry fees, travel to and from the event (gas, hotel, food), your gear, shoes, clothes, etc., as well as stocking up for refueling (gels, hydration belts, s-tabs, etc.). To pile on the cost like this is a good way to keep people away.
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  45. I just ran a competitor group race in february here in Florida. It did seems like they nickel and dimed everyone for sure. They charged for transportation to and from the start/finish, which I thought to be ridiculous. In big races that I have run, like NYC Marathon, they take care of your transportation for you.

    I understand that it is a business, but it is just a shame that they try to make way too much money off of it. I am running the Country Music Marathon hosted by the Competitor Group in April, so I am interested to see how that one will go.

    I will say that they are very organized, and go off without a hitch. But I agree – somethings should just not cost money. Picking up a race packet is one of them.
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  46. GREAT POST. I got into the Cherry Blossom 10 miler this year.You have to pick up your packet by 5pm on Saturday. We had planned on driving up from Va Beach on Saturday after my son’s first baseball game of the season. I doubt we will make it in time. So much for being runner friendly :(

  47. I’m so completely icked out! After the Vegas incident I was completely turned off – never wanted to run an RNR event.

    Then my step mom convinced me to run San Antonio with her later this year – nOw I completely don’t even want to. $20 to pick up more than one other packet? Are you kidding me? So – without costing my step mother tons of money I have to miss work on Thursday to fly to Texas – miss work on Friday so I can go to the expo and miss work Saturday for race day?! Not to mention my flight home the nex day…

    Wow competitor. Way to lose me forever after my pit stop in Texas.
    Thank goodness for the runners I love in this metro we live in. I’m volunteering at the RNR dc – if I didn’t care about runners having an incredible experience – I would probably say screw it

  48. This is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. STUPID! You should not have to be charged to pick up a friend, or even moreso a FAMILY MEMBERS race bib. I am just as angry as you are about this and it doesn’t even directly relate to me. Sorry, Dorothy!
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  49. @ Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal:
    No, they charge for runner tracking.
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  50. I think the $20 charge is insane. I have run other RnR events where you had to be the person picking up your packet – it’s inconvenient but they cited waiver issues for it. There’s no reason to charge for something that doesn’t cause any financial impact. I get with parking shuttles they have to pay for the gas/the driver’s time. For this, the volunteers are already there. They’re volunteering. There’s no added cost to me picking up 3 or 5 or 15 packets. It’s just a way to nickel and dime runners and it’s doing it in a way that’s so over the top that there’s no way not to be annoyed about it.
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  51. I heard about the fee for pick-up and just couldn’t believe it! This will be my second RnR and depending on how things are managed will determine if it’s my last. I’m fairly disgusted with the ever-increasing fees of larger races and will be looking for more smaller local races in the future.
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Brooks PureConnects product reviewMy Profile

  52. I ran this race last year. I enjoyed hitting all the cupcake spots in DC a lot more than I enjoyed this race. And I was sad to see the Rock n Roll series buy this race. I get really tired of the big companies buying all the small races and jacking the prices and ruining the hometown feel of it. Yes, I’m looking at your IRONMAN!!!

    There’s other races…
    Meredith recently posted..A New Way of CommutingMy Profile

  53. Nope, never have, and probably never will. Race fees are way too high for those races. $110 for a HM? That’s insane when I can run local HMs that will be less crowded, for $50 or less, and pick up my bib the morning of the race.

  54. The Runner tracking charge is what bothers me most! I wanted to track a friend running a HM in the Competitor series in California and for the Half there was a tracking charge as well. I don’t think there should ever be a charge to track a friend for the half or full. You either offer tracking or you don’t but don’t charge their friends!! It’s like they are looking for every possible way to make money when the race itself cost more than any “local” race.
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom recently posted..4 minutesMy Profile

  55. I love your honesty in this post and the fact that you care more about your readers than your relationship with the Competitor Group. It’s refreshing. I’ve never run a RNR race before but have read many recaps and have noticed the nickle and diming they do. It would definitely make me think twice before signing up for one!
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  56. If there was a Club of those who dislike Competitor Groups business model, I would be the Chairman of the Board, CEO and the Head Janitor.

    I have NO PROBLEMS paying for quality service and what is promised, but to charge any fees to make it more convenient for ME, is not my convenience it is their pockets being coated.

    I have run enough races (35+) to know a good company vs bad. Competitor are blood-suckers. Their inability to handle a crisis (aka RnRLV) and their constant lying of their business operations is one that an embarrassment to this industry.

    I would never run one of their races, even if they paid me, paid for my travel or ANYTHING.

    I value my reputation, my integrity and my health more than I value their opinions.

    I USE to be support RnR until 2011, when I saw a steady stream of ignorance, neglect and how they treat the runners. The last straw was RnRLV as I was one of the hospital victims of that race. The illness was only the tip of the iceberg on how they did (or shall I say did not) handle that evening.

    I am now – very anti-RnR and know they won’t listen to anyone but their own bankers.

    The only way they will be stopped is when runners pick other races and stop running RnR’s. There are MANY more options – give other RD’s your time and money. Not RnR.

    My rants will never stop – I will spend as much time as needed to expose them and cause them the same amount of grief they have caused their “customers”.

  57. What?!?! This is outrageous!! I signed up to run the Portland half with them and now I’m terrified to run. After Las Vegas, I decided I’d carry my own water. I’m too scared to drink the course water now.
    The race is local so I don’t have a problem with packet pick up. It will be interesting to see what they try to pull in Portland. I don’t think we Portlanders will put up with such antics. There are too many local races to choose from if this Rick and Roll race turns out to be ridiculous.
    I’m glad you posted about this. $20 to pick up someone else’s packet is ridiculous.

  58. Right on. Some races are definitely becoming financially inaccessible. Besides Boston I am going to try to sign up for smaller/less expensive races this year.
    Good for you for voicing your opinion!
    Rebecca recently posted..Tough Chick.My Profile

  59. If you want any more fuel to the fire, it ticked me off that they took until about 5 weeks before the race to actually post the “revised” course and another 2 weeks to post the elevation. I understand DC permits are difficult to come by, but races like The Nations Tri have posted preliminary courses in advance so curious athletes can actually see the course before they plunk down $100+ for something. And to take 2 weeks to update the elevation profile is just straight up lazy on their part.

    I have run the National Marathon twice and volunteered twice when the race first started and was much smaller, but better managed. Last year (not under Competitor Group yet), the race didn’t provide mile markers at the majority of the miles and I was curious what this year’s race would be like since they took over. I guess we now have a good idea and the race hasn’t even started…
    LesserisMore recently posted..That Last Turn HomeMy Profile

  60. I saw this the other day and was beyond appalled. I already had a strong distaste for RNR races (overpriced, poorly executed) but this ensures I will never, ever do another one – on principle alone! This is money-grubbing, pure and simple. They should be ashamed.

  61. RnR NOLA marathon on March 4th was my first RnR race. I registered last fall before the events of Las Vegas occurred and was somewhat nervous to say the least.

    While I must say that NOLA was extremely well organized, went off without a hitch, had amazing crowd support, and a wonderful expo, I absolutely cannot fork over the cash to run these races time and again. A $20 packet pickup fee is pure profit as many small hometown races allow for friends/family to do the same at no cost. I’m afraid that with running becoming bigger and ever that this is the wave of the future. Now, I enjoyed all the fanfare in NOLA because it was my first marathon and I chose a race of this caliber for the fanfare to help get me through 26.2 miles, but whatever happened to just running a race for the sake of loving the sport?
    Kristin recently posted..RnR NOLA Race Recap Part 3: Marathon Blood, Sweat & TearsMy Profile

  62. AMEN! Competitor Group really seems to be getting greedy. Plus with all of the problems at my local RnR race (Las Vegas) this year, it really makes me think they only care about their bottom-line and not about the participants. It’s sad and a little bit frightening.
    Jill Will Run recently posted..BarefootMy Profile

  63. megan heidt says:

    This makes me really hate entering in big races. They are all about money-making these days and so overpriced. I was about to enter in a race in the area in June and they wanted to charge me $4 extra to mail my packet!! Since when does mailing your packet come with a fee too? You mail it so you don’t have to pay the online fee, right??? So wrong!

  64. Sounds like a no-go for me. Too much annoyance and no, I won’t pay to pick up someone’s packet.

  65. i have never really liked the RNR races because they are so expensive. i ran one once… i’ve always assumed that part of their reasoning for charging more is the “on course entertainment”. umm. the one i ran, didn’t have as many bands/entertainment on course as i would have expected for a race that touts how much on-course entertainment they have. (va beach rnr back in like, ’09) i think it’s well over $100 to register for the half-marathon close to race day. even the “early registration discount” is still pricey. to me, i’ve never seen enough ‘perks’ to justify the cost. there are many smaller (cheaper) races that manage to stretch the dollar further and make for a more enjoyable race experience.

    packet pickup is just plain annoying. expo’s are rarely cool – except boston, nyc, disney, maybe some other really big ones. they should give you a discount for picking up multiple packets.
    lindsay recently posted..because i canMy Profile

  66. I have run 2 RNR races and will never do so again unless given a free entry. Even then I highly doubt it. To begin with they charge excessively for their races. I would rather support my local running clubs and run smaller races. These races are always over-crowded and I don’t really care to pay that much money to ‘run for fun’. I didn’t run Vegas this year, but after hearing the stories, I don’t want to run any of their races again. Charging for packet pickup and having unreasonable rules and expo times is icing on the cake.

    I’ll stick to supporting my local folks from now on..
    Karla recently posted..DST Weekend RecapMy Profile

  67. I think they also have an option where (for a fee) you could have had your packet mailed to you. I guess for the few years I have been doing races, I’ve always had to do packet pickup before the day of the race. Exception being a 3k being organized by a 6th grader. I have gone into Philly numerous times for pre-race packet pickup, it’s just assumed that I will have to. Which is why I never signed up for any NYC races (also close, but more of a pain to get to). I have run 2 competitor events, both in Philly in 2010 and 2011. I will say I found them to be well organized events.

    My biggest beef with them continues to be that when I pay $70-75 (early bird registration) half marathon registration fee, I still get a man’s shirt. I’ve written to them about this and they claimed that starting in 2012 they would offer women’s sizing. I no longer live near Philadelphia, so it doesn’t matter. In both of the years I ran it, there were 13-16,000 runners, and stats show half of racers are female. Clearly it’s not an issue of not having enough females to be worth ordering shirts for. Because if you need say 7,000 womens shirts, clearly it will still be cheap for Competitor. I’m sure it’s even cheaper to make all the shirts “unisex” (still won’t fit a size small woman).

    The way I see it, any big race organizer is going to charge excessive registration fees and extra fees for packets to be mailed, tracking, transportation when they can get away with it because they are FOR profit. The only way to avoid this is to stick with events put on by local running clubs or xc teams that are doing it for charity or just to cover costs.
    Amanda recently posted..Running/Hiking Week in ReviewMy Profile

  68. @ Stephanie:

    Stephanie- it’s with all their events.
    Here’s the link to the pdf for the Philly Rock n’ Roll half from September 2011. Same fees for picking up more than one person’s packet. Not saying it’s right, but it’s because clearly they are hoping you will buy stuff when you go to the expo. They probably guarantee $xx of sales per registered runner when vendors commit to attending the expo. So if you are picking up 2 other people’s packets, that is seen as lost income, so they are charging you $20.

    Amanda recently posted..Running/Hiking Week in ReviewMy Profile

  69. Lennie Howell says:

    The very first rant regarding Compreditor Group is incorrect. The real history behind Competitor is a co. out of New York Called Falconhead. They bought Elite Racing 4 years ago. Elite Racing a San Diego Co. started all the Rock and Roll series and I worked for them 8 years running (no pun intended) Falcon Head bought up a bunch of print companies such as Triathelete Mag. Competitor Mag. Velo News and smashed Elite Racing, Muddy Buddy races and tryed to start a TRI ROCK race that is failing miserably. Everyone knows that magazines and news papers are going nowhere when it is so easy to look up news and print on a computer.The reason there is so many failures with Compreditor (Las Vegas Marathon) is they fired all the original employees that built Elite Racing to the point of attracting corporate monsters such as Falcon Head. If you really want to complain than you need to focus your attention to David Moross the CEO of Falcon Head. After I left in Feb. 2011 with my crew they have lost all quality control and have had nothing but problems with all of the races. I wish them well in they’re future non endevors.

  70. Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal says:

    @ Lennie Howell:
    Hey Lennie – was your comment in response to what I had written or what someone had commented on? Competitor Group, Inc. bought National Marathon.

  71. @ Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal:
    Yep… I was going to use it for Savannah… but I wasn’t interested in paying for it….. so the fam just finds out how I did when I’m done.

  72. Glad someone else is fired up about Competitor Group races!

    Oh Competitor Group, people are catching on to your money-making ridiculous shenanigans…. With that being said, they are out there to make money and are pretty up front about it.

    BUT that is why I am not going to run their races.

    Why? Because of these “hidden fees” and that they are getting too big too fast.

    Another reason; their lack of consideration to MARATHONERS when they combine a marathon and a half marathon. During 2 races I have run, the marathon course merges with the half for a portion of the race. When this happens, a 3:20 marathoner is merging with the 2:30+ half marathoners. Let me tell you how FRUSTRATING this is…..I respect anyone who is out there, but it is SO hard to push yourself at mile 20 when you are running by hundreds of half marathon walkers. This is just another example of a race out there to make money (more runners = more $$) not to put on a quality well-planned event.

    Thank you for allowing me to vent. :)

  73. I agree with you- I think it’s ridiculous. But the competitor group seems to be able to get away with anything. Including not enough porta potties at the start.
    Elizabeth Clor recently posted..Taper Song: Last Thursday NightMy Profile

  74. No more RNR races for me after that Vegas debacle. Totally agree with you.
    XLMIC recently posted..It’s Tuesday…why am I not at the zoo?My Profile

  75. There are so many races to choose from in this area that I hope people will start “voting with their feet” and entering the smaller, low-key events that only charge what’s necessary. In addition to paying less, you deal with fewer crowds, parking hassles, and generally have a better experience. I recommend that everyone starts looking at local running club’s race listings, trail races, and even the smaller events listed on Run Washington. Some races are worth paying a lot for, many are not. I’ve started a “Cheap Races” listing on my blog and would love input!
    Racingtales – Alison Gittelman recently posted..Protein Bar JunkieMy Profile

  76. Jennifer S says:

    I completely agree with you! Charging to pick up others packets just screams of a money making scheme!

  77. Hey Doug! I was lucky enough to have a friend who was able to pick up my packet for me… but that’s a recent development since it was only announced last week that a friend could pick up my packet (and she has out-of-town family coming to race, too, so like I said, I’m lucky that she can do it for me). However, I don’t really have a lot of friends in the running community and was very close to either having to take time off of work that I can’t afford OR pay $20 to have someone pick up my packet for me. I live 4.5 hours from DC and so far everything about this race is screaming “inconvenience.” And that’s a thought that I have determined on my own long before Dorothy even wrote this post. Normally, a weekend trip to DC or a race weekend is no biggie, but I’ve never been apart of a race that penalizes you for not being local. Just something to think about. @ Doug:
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  78. Lauren @lala_runs says:

    I understand your frustration with having to go pickup race packets from an expo. I really hate it especially when a race is “local” for me- within an hour or 2 from my house. With that said, I would absolutely pay $20 to have the packet mailed to me. But $20 for my friend to do all the work to get my packet? Why? I just don’t get it. I feel like competitor group really exploits runners in an unfair way. They really need to listen to feedback for once rather than keep making themselves look worse year after year.

  79. I have never and will never run an RNR event. Unless I stumble upon a free race comp or entry. I seem to read disaster after disaster from these races. One of the big things they advertise is the music… when most of the time they aren’t even still playing at the time the four hour finishers cross??? ridiculous. Lets not even talk about the overcrowding. Also, I had a friend that won an RNR race in 2011 and they seriously CUT the prize money in half, from what it was the year before that. Really? & uhm, sorry I’m not paying an arm and a leg to potentially run a race with 278394633 problems. parking. over crowding. not enough finishers medals for everyone. etc. etc.

    plus, uhm, support your LOCAL race scene.
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  80. Great post and comments – thanks for sharing your thoughts & opinions! :-)
    Malinda recently posted..Wine & Dine Half MarathonMy Profile

  81. I heard about this yesterday and was APPALLED. Either let people pick up others’ packets or don’t, but charging $20 to do so is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. It’s not like they’re already not making $100+ on everyone. I’m signed up for two RnR’s this year but I think they might be my last. Okay, probably not, because they’ve got quite a monopoly on some races I want to do like New Orleans, but CLOSE to my last!
    Ricole Runs recently posted..Chanting is Just Not My ThingMy Profile

    • Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal says:

      I think not letting others pick up the packet is a pain, but I do understand why some races do it….but charging is just crazy to me. I’d be willing to pay that to have it mailed to me, but not like another commenter said – to have my friend do all the work of driving there and still pay. I’d be interested to know if they had a valid reason they could give for this policy.

  82. @ Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal:
    First let me say that I totally respect what you do and I think you are a truly amazing mother, runner, and woman. This post has obviously created a bit of controversy and it seems the RnR people have taken on some strange policies that make no sense…but I will say that both the NYC Half (which I am running on Sunday) and the NYC full marathon make you pick up your bib in person. You have to bring your confirmation email and ID and they do no allow someone else to pick up your bib, no exceptions.

    This is not true of the regular NYRR races but it is true for the half and the full marathons. While I don’t necessarily agree with it, I do get it. They don’t want someone else A)stealing your bib or B)giving your bib away to someone else. As long as the company is up front about it I suppose I am fine with it. Anyway, I think you have a right to your opinion and I applaud you for standing up for what you believe in.

    • Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal says:

      Thank you for your nice comment Carrie! I don’t mind the policy of getting your own number – though I do think it is a pain, I understand why some races do it – what I should have made more clear in my post is that I care about the $20 charge to have someone else pick it up for you [if you are not their one FREE one]. It just seems like a way to make more money.

  83. I loved the National. Everything about it. I will NEVER run a race by Competitor ever again.

  84. Definitely disappointing to hear something like this. Racing should be every man’s sport and affordable. This is why I prefer small town races. But it’s hard to find a small town half or full these days.
    Holly recently posted..HackedMy Profile

  85. This is the first I’ve heard of anything like this, and it seems ridiculous. That said, I’ve never run a Competitor group race. Being from a medium sized Canadian city, race fees start at $50+ for any race, and most expo’s are super disappointing (I’ve done tow large US races now, the expos are full of new products we Canadians don’t have access to, so I do spend $$ there).

    I expect to pick up my race packet the day before the race at the expo. I plan accordingly. For larger races, I’m happy when they will let me pick up my hubby’s packet too (we did Disney this year, and almost could not get his packet until they added the waiver feature at the last minute). Charging a fee for it seems like a cash grab, though.

    Mind you, if you think running race fees are bad, try Ironman… my race entry for a Half this year was over $250!!
    Kris recently posted..Eating Disorders, Exercise Addiction, and Body ImageMy Profile

  86. I don’t see why people could think they could get away with running with another’s stolen bib. Last time I checked there are a lot of cameras taking pics. They would have a face with the unauthorized bib easy enough.

    $20 to pick up another’s packet is ludicrous. They couldn’t possibly show the economics of how it cost them more to have one person p/u multiple packets.

    The market will bear out if the fees are too high. They can price themselves out of the market as there are plenty of marathons around the country.

  87. @ Mile Posts By Dorothy Beal:
    Yes, I just read this from @DrAndybaldwin tweet:) Tracking cost $2.00 each = priceless;)https://www.competitorwireless.com/web/events/trackathlete

  88. I thought the additional fee for the packet pick was a bit absurd. Luckily, it didn’t affect me since I was already planning to visit the DC area from out of town and do the tourist thing for a few days prior to race day. This is off topic but I want to share it with you all anyway.

    This was my first RnR event and my first full marathon. Or so, I thought it was. The first half of the race was a blast, my best race experience yet. The second half was not as exciting and quite difficult. It is a MARATHON after all. And I was expecting it to be more difficult than the first half. I’ve run 5 half marathons, my body loves that distance. But not so much the full. Nonetheless, I finished and was so elated. Miles 17-25 were brutal. I felt ill from the heat and had trouble hydrating. I had slowed down quite a bit. But I didn’t give up. I wasn’t going to let the past 17 weeks of training and all the support from my family and friends go down the tubes. I wasn’t going to let all of the work I put in leading up to this race be for nothing. Mile 21 was especially difficult. I couldn’t wait to see the next mile marker because it would bring me one step closer to being done, to achieving my goal of completing a marathon. The next marker came, 23 miles. Wait a second, what happened to 22?!? I was on course still and everyone else was following the same path. The woman next to me said her GPS watch had clocked in at 23 miles (mine had died at that point). Ok, so let’s all continue and finish the last 3.2 miles! And then the allegations started. Competitor moved the orange cones and cut out a loop (where the 22 mile marker would have been found) that totaled about 1 mile, according to other runners. There wasn’t anyone from Competitor on course informing runners of this. We were not given any choice and therefore cheated out of completing a full marathon in its entirety.

    Yes, I was a back of pack runner for much of the second half of the race. But I wasn’t too far behind the 5:30 pace group at the very end, who were also rerouted without any notice. And they were even slightly ahead of schedule! Can you imagine the letdown?!? For many of us, this race was meant to be our first and possibly only marathon. It is so frustrating and disappointing to know that we didn’t actually run the entire 26.2 miles (apparently the course was closer to 26.8 miles). I am proud of this and still consider it an accomplishment but finding out it wasn’t a real, complete marathon is a little difficult to swallow. Competitor is looking into this matter and has promised more info soon.

    I am registered for a few other RnR half marathons. But in all honestly, I am not sure I really want to participate in them anymore.

  89. Courtney G says:

    I like this post…a lot. I was appalled at how unprofessinoally the ambassador program was conducted–or, rather, not conducted. I thought I just fell off the email chains due to a technical difficulty. Four months laters, when I found it was just internal incompetency and basically, just un-professionalism, I decided I certainly wasn’t running the race. I gave my packet to a coworker with the stipulation that she donate part of what the exorbitant entry fee would have been, to charity. :) Maybe that’s where the thousands of extra $20s that competitor earned from packet pickup should be going.

  90. I’m a little late on this but I was so shocked to see that they were charging for packet pick-up. Our local half-marathon allows you to pick up bibs for others as long as you have their confirmation post cards. Every year, I pick up my husband’s and my packet during lunch. It saves us from hauling the baby downtown at dinner during the big rush. It doesn’t seem to put out the volunteers in the least.

    However, I can’t say that I’m surprised as the RnR events are incredibly expensive and overly so. I was a bit peeved when registering for RnR NOLA because they didn’t allow any promo codes to be used for the relay, which I was registering for. They are just making it more evident that they are a for-profit company, and they will do things like this because people will (naively) pay for it.
    Kimberly @ Healthy Strides recently posted..Nice rackMy Profile

  91. Ohh that would make my blood boil! Here in Seattle the volunteer pacers are a bit upset over what they’re doing. They have decided to not include pacers for faster times, the fastest pacer for the 1/2 will get you in at 1:45, the fastest one for the full will get you to the finish at 3:30. It wasn’t this way last year.
    While those are certainly respectable times, faster runners liked to be paced as well! They’ve cut back on the # of pacers as a whole. Given the new times for Boston, you’d think they’d like to encourage more people to try to qualify via their races. It’s just disappointing that they seem to be looking at bottom line instead of the running community as a whole.

  92. Denise P. says:

    I hadn’t heard about that additional “option” for that race. Right as soon as I saw the $20 charge I understood why you were crying foul.

    Unfortunately I was already registered for 3 2012 RnR’s when I participated in the disastrous Las Vegas event in December. They’ve already got my money and I don’t ever buy any of their merch at the expo, so I’m kind of torn.

    I went ahead and ran #1 Pasadena in February because it is 45 miles from me, #2 is Portland and I’ve already booked flight and non-refundable hotel and am seeing family there so that one is still on, and #3 is Chicago, but I can’t find a reasonable flight or hotel so that one might be out as much as I’d love to travel there because I’ve never been there.

    Oh and I’m running a 5K through them this weekend in Carlsbad, CA, but after thar I think I will stick to supporting local, smaller races.


  1. [...] been so excited to use the stupid exercise bike!). What I failed to remember, though, was that the Rock-n-Roll DC/Formerly National Marathon was scheduled for Saturday, so there were tons and tons of runners and their families, plus the beginning of the Cherry [...]

  2. [...] the most interesting commentaries on this process came from Dorothy Beal on her blog Mile Posts. In her post on the subject, she writes: This whole thing isn’t about making sure that someone is not using someone else’s [...]

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