Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Delicate Fate of Pacific Coast Trail Runs - Will It Survive?


“To be or not to be, that is the question.” – Hamlet

It was Pacific Coast Trail Runs (PCTR) who first introduced me to ultramarathons in 2001, helping me rediscover a passion for the outdoors with their unique trail events up and down the West Coast.  PCTR's fun and low-key “runs but not races” have been a big part of the California trail running community for over a decade (beautifully chronicled here by Sarah Lavender Smith for UltraRunning Magazine in March, 2009). Rarely a month goes by that I don’t recall the fateful day I met PCTR Race Director and co-founder Sarah Spelt managing an aid station for the Purisima Creek 50k near my house, and watched her help a runner finish vomiting, pull him up, and say, “you only have 5 miles to go…so get out of that chair and keep moving forward”. Wow! Runners and volunteers alike were friendly, tough, courageous…a group of passionate people creating adventure just for the hell of it. Like many, I was drawn in by the PCTR aura.

Lately, that aura has had to shine through some dark times. To say that 2011 has been a tough year for PCTR would be an understatement of ultra proportions – cancelled races, a no show for an event, tens of thousands of dollars in refunds in limbo, a rotating door of co-RD’s, and more - any one of these would be enough to set the tombstone on even the best event management company. But just when you count them out, PCTR comes back with dogged persistence.  As 2011 comes to a close, they face their toughest challenge yet, and all eyes are on the Rodeo Beach 50k on Dec 31st to see if the race will occur, and more importantly, if PCTR will survive.

I was lucky enough to be a regular participant in the Golden Age of PCTR, where they held 20+ races annually through 2000-2010, ranging from 10k’s to 24-Hour events, and even birthing the heralded Headlands Hundred. Those who ran knew exactly what to expect – a well-marked course, plenty of happy volunteers, lots of food, and a sense of humility that made even the craziest races (and racers) feel approachable. By 2008, nearly every race was selling out, with a solid mix of regular runners and first-timers motivated by the Dean Karnazes/Born To Run surge. The 10-20k distances seemed to be the cash cow, drawing hundreds each weekend, while the ultras were clearly a labor of love that Sarah and then-husband/PCTR co-founder Wendell Doman both shared with the community they helped build.

The Golden Age got its first shake up in mid-2010, when a “Dear Jane letter" from Wendell to Sarah split the personal relationship that was the genesis of PCTR. Some feared the worst in the face of a divorce among co-founders, but they continued to do an amazing job keeping everything going smoothly. Wendell soon after started Coastal Trail Runs with a roster of even more races that conveniently did not occur on the same weekends as PCTR events. Like the child of divorced parents who now gets two weekly allowances, the trail running community was getting a best case scenario from a challenging personal situation.

2011 started ambitiously for PCTR, with a new co-owner and Race Director Michael Popov, new logos and web site, and a plan to expand into a whole new series of races in the Lake Tahoe area. A newly minted PCTR Race Team was spotted everywhere, with runners like Ian Sharman making headlines with his American Record-setting 12:44 at the Rocky Raccoon 100 trail run. Races continued to sell out through the summer, many in record time, although the Lake Tahoe races had to be postponed due to long permit timelines. Still, they forged ahead, and for most of us, the Golden Age was as bright as ever.

Then in September, 2011, the "train came off the rails", so to speak.

On September 16th, less than 24 hours before the San Francisco One Day event at Crissy Field, an e-mail went out from Sarah saying the event would be cancelled due to a “personal emergency”. Some runners were aghast, having trained and flown out to be at the event, but most just offered their help and condolences. PCTR does races in rain or shine, so surely they wouldn’t cancel an event unless it was serious? The PCTR Facebook page lit up with concern, personal outreach, anger, and lots of questions.

The following Monday, Michael Popov announced on Facebook that he would no longer be associated with PCTR “due to personal issues and other numerous issues with the co-owner”. Like many, I was shocked, and began asking around with the PCTR runner/volunteer regulars about what might have happened. Many felt it was a shame that Michael had left, saying he had lifted up PCTR with his enthusiasm and attention to detail. Others were much more direct, implying that Michael’s involvement created a precarious financial situation for PCTR, and his personal style had driven regular volunteers away. Whatever it was, the cancellation of the San Francisco One Day, and now this, was evidence that something deeper was amiss.

Then, the unspeakable happened. When racers arrived at the Santa Cruz Mountains 10k/20k/50k the following weekend, PCTR was nowhere to be found. La Sportiva was there to demo their shoes, and a couple of volunteers were eagerly awaiting aid station supplies, so it was clear that no notification of a cancellation had gone out. After hours of waiting, runners disbanded and went right to the Facebook page to express their shock and outrage. Just when you thought a last minute cancellation was the worst cardinal sin of race directing, a no-show reset expectations at a whole new level.

Refund requests poured in by the hundreds, which unfortunately resulted in PCTR's credit card processing company freezing their account and making it impossible to issue refunds. The PCTR web site posted cancellations for the next two races (Montana de Oro and Redwood Park), exacerbating the refund/frozen account situation, but still processed entry fees for future events through PayPal. This confused many, and while some ultrarunners just rolled with it and asked for credits for future events, the short course masses were extremely vocal about their missing funds and took to the Internet. Runners like Oregon’s Casey Hennig blasted PCTR on Yelp, Facebook, and even filed a complaint to the Better Business Bureau, permanently damaging the PCTR brand. Runner Christine Jenior Gorby said on Facebook she was engaging her lawyer, which as we all know means that PCTR would have to be very careful about any public dialogue (ie, there will be little, if any). Another slighted runner, Greg Monaghan, continues to post to Facebook regularly to call PCTR “scam artists”, "criminals", calling Sarah “a thief”, and encourage runners to go to competitive events. Hell hath no fury like a runner feeling ripped off, and with a lack of frequent two-way communication, they let their voices be heard. It was hard to imagine how PCTR would survive.

Then, in mid-October, signs of life. In fact, it was more than signs, it was a comeback in the making. Sarah came out of silence to publicly comment on the frozen credit account scenario, promising refunds to all involved and replying to many personally. A new team was hired, run by Tim Long and Tim Stahler (“the Tims”), two individuals with a deep passion for running and hosting events. Tim Long had even relocated from Colorado, and as soon as he hit the ground, the races were back on. The Santa Monica Mountain event on Nov 20th happened, followed by the Woodside event on Dec 3rd, in an impressive display of last minute organization and high integrity communication about the race directing experience. I ran the 25k at Woodside, and it felt like the good ‘ole days were coming back, with ample course markings, food, and happy volunteers. A new PCTR Race Team was announced, and I joined up to help in the comeback story. Like an ultrarunner who refused to drop, PCTR was taking flight once again.

Then as fast as the comeback was on, it stumbled. On Dec 17th, the Tims posted a blog entry saying they would no longer be involved with PCTR, citing the inability to address the confusion and frustration around refunds and money owed. They did promise to host the Rodeo Beach event on Dec 31st, and assured everyone that food and supplies were ordered. After Rodeo Beach, the blog entry went on to say, the Tims would be creating races under a new event management group called Inside Trail Racing. Yup, that just happened.

A few days later, they updated their post saying they had been contacted by PCTR’s lawyer to stay away from the Rodeo Beach event. Lawyers are involved? Uh, oh. Suddenly, everything seems up the air.

Will the Rodeo Beach event take place on Dec 31st

Are refunds coming, or does involvement by lawyers signal signs of bankruptcy?  

Will PCTR survive?  

All eyes are on Dec 31st.

One thing for sure, you can't knock the players in this story for a lack of passion about their sport and community. While Sarah and the PCTR crew find their footing, Michael Popov went on to tackle 140+ mile adventures of his own, Wendell created Coastal Trail Runs, and the Tim's launched Inside Trail Racing. In the face of a DNF, they each found within themselves the strength to press on and flourish in their own way. Their persistence is admirable, and for what it's worth, the trail running community continues to reap the benefits.

There is a special place in my heart for PCTR, and I sincerely hope that they will persevere through these tough times.  I am ever the optimist, much in thanks to ultrarunning, and can easily picture racing a PCTR event in full PCTR Team gear soon, taking about how glad we are all that refund nonsense is over.  It would be yet another epic story of persistence and courage in the face of adversity that our sport creates with welcome regularity.

Keep moving forward, people. Try to be positive for those that are struggling through the race. The finish line is closer than you think.

Peace and courage...

- SD

[Ed. Update - On Christmas Day, PCTR and Inside Trails announced on Facebook that they reached a contract agreement for the Inside Trails team to manage the Rodeo Beach event on Dec 31st. This arrangement is only for this event. It's nice to see they worked something out. Also, I should note that Jeff Makoff, the legal counsel donating his time to PCTR to help them through their current challenges, offered the following official statement in an e-mail to me:

"The trail running community is aware of the difficulties PCTR has faced recently.  We appreciate the extraordinary patience of our loyal friends and followers.  PCTR has retained professionals to work through the immediate issues and help formulate a strategic plan for the future.  Among the urgent issues are the processing of all refunds for past cancelled races.  Please look on our Facebook page for real-time updates and further instructions for refunds.  This process is well-underway and we will keep you posted.  We wish everyone a great 2012 - and we sincerely apologize for the recent difficulties!" 

Jeff went on to mention how they are in sorting out who still needs refunds, and who has already received them through their credit card companies, and how best to process them efficiently. It sounds very positive to me.

I'm hoping to volunteer at Rodeo Beach on the 31st to lend my support. Hope you are all doing well, and I look forward to seeing you.]





219 comments:

  1. This is one of those blog posts that can go either way on the comments, and I ask that you each take a moment and read what you will post before you do so. As you can see from linking to individuals above, your comments will live forever.

    Also, if you feel the need to say something controversial, I would ask that you please sign your name. Anonymous hate comments will be deleted.

    Now, let the comment storm begin. ;-)

    SD

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  2. "There is a special place in my heart for PCTR, and I sincerely hope that they will persevere through these tough times."

    Exactly.

    I, too, ran my first trail events with PCTR five years ago and hope they can pull through this. Thanks for the info.

    Eric Schranz
    ultrarunnerpodcast.com

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  3. I hope PCTR comes back healthy and strong.

    Chris O'Connor

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  4. I love PCTR.... I hope they can get back up and running. I hope to do a few of their events this summer!

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  5. Kudos to you, Scott, for carefully and thoroughly covering this unfortunate turn of events (and thanks for referencing my 2009 UltraRunning profile). You did a great job of covering the chronology of what happened while respecting the private lives of the individuals involved. As a PCTR participant and occasional volunteer, I've been following this from the sidelines and just want to mention a couple of things that have bothered me:
    (1) Several supporters of Sarah posted comments on PCTR's and Sarah's personal facebook pages last fall that harshly criticized those who publicly--and, in my mind, not unreasonably--criticized and complained about the race cancellations. Friends of Sarah defended her so strongly that I fear runners with legitimate concerns were publicly put down and intimidated. Then, the pendulum swung the other way, and now the anti-PCTR comments on the Facebook pages sound rather shrill. Bottom line, I hope everyone can comment in these forums more respectfully and empathetically.
    (2) It seemed that PCTR/Sarah sent mixed signals this fall via Facebook and the website, so runners like me -- concerned about the events we've signed up for, concerned about PCTR and Sarah herself--felt confused and increasingly unsympathetic.
    This story is a good first step toward clearing things up and moving ahead. I'll be at Rodeo Beach on the 31st and look forward to seeing others there. Best of luck to Sarah Spelt, the Tims and everyone else.

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  6. I've had a lot of fun at many PCTR events and would have been part of the team again if I still lived in the Bay Area and could actually get to PCTR races. I really hope it all works out as Sarah introduced me to a whole host of excellent trails all over the Bay Area that I'd probably never have seen otherwise.

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  7. Thanks for the great summary of recent events. I feel a bit guilty to live in an area with so many great trails and great companies willing to put on races. I've done numerous PCTR events (Skyline to the Sea cannot be missed) and really hope they can pull out of this. But wow, they are in a big hole right now.

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  8. Great recap. I too agree with SLS's comments above. PCTR has no business still accepting money. They need to put everything on hold, square up with those left hanging, regroup, and move on. Them accepting monies now is nothing but thievery. Kudios to the two Tims for helping out next weekend. I think the kind act is more than PCTR deserves based on their recent actions.

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  9. Naming the facebook transgressors kind of makes this post is a bit of a public stoning.

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  10. Agree with notthatlucas that Skyline to the Sea (my first ultra and first and only PCTR race so far) can't be missed. What a gem of a run!

    Running a business is hard and rebuilding customer trust is hard....I hope the PCTR folks can find a way through this and get back to staging great races on beautiful trails like S2S and others.

    -paul

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  11. Thank you for your thorough write-up, Scott. As a frequent runner who has been injured for months and is not an avid facebook user, a lot of this was news to me.

    I have seen the good and the bad with PCTR. My sincere wish is that all the runners who lost entry fees get compensated. Further, I think that the SF 1 Day and Santa Cruz runners get additional credit towards future races (you want them coming back, right? Plus, they lost time, training, flights, etc.).

    Finally, I am saddened by how personal a lot of the attacks have gotten over the years. There is enough demand for all the organizers in the area (Brazen, PCTR, Coastal, Inside, Envirosports).

    One of the greatest aspects of trail running is community. And I feel that has gotten a bit lost here over the years...

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  12. I really like this story how only the "known" facts were posted. The known facts however bring up a lot of controversy.
    There is so much more to this story as to what happened from 2010 with the split until now that people don't know. If they did, it would or at least does make much more sense to me anyway on the how and why all of this has gone down. It's very hard to point fingers at anyone as it takes 2 to tango.
    There is much more to how and why the events that took place with PCTR. It's blame game that we need to stay away from.
    Since the split of Wendell and Sarah, life has taken a serious turn with Sarah. There was no mention of the law suits between PCTR and CTR here either. Several more than just 2 races were in jeopardy.
    I can go on and on, but it only brings up more arguments.
    PCTR is a company owned by one person now. Lets just hope she gets better and back on her feet and PCTR goes on. And yes, what has been happening to Sarah is something no one would want to go through.

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  13. It's a shame to see the events of 2011 - especially since it was the PCTR events that introduced me to wonderful world of trail ultra's in the Bay Area. As a Race Director (although nowhere in the same league as Sarah, Wendell or the Tim's), I can say that we respect the runners more than just about anything else on earth. Not only are runners our business - but many of them are our best friends - they are our community. So, any race cancellation would only be made under the most trying and stressful or circumstances.

    I wish Sarah, the Tim's and all the parties involved all the best.

    Cheers,

    Paul Charteris

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  14. Thanks for putting this all out there in an objective manner Scott. I too did some of my first ultras at PCTR events and I hope that things come through okay. My heart goes out to Sarah. I will see you on the 31st.
    Bev Anderson-Abbs

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  15. My first ultra was back in Feb of 2010 at woodside with pctr. Since then I've ran 21 ultras, most with pctr. I even have ran the headlands 100 twice. At my second running of the headlands 100 I gave my girlfriend an engagement ring. I love pctr events. I wish Sarah the best of luck. Running ultras has changed my life and pctr has been a huge part of that. I wish them the best of luck!!!! I can't wait to attend more of their events soon.

    David Thull

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  16. Scott, thanks for making this public.

    PCTR was the reason I started trail running and later ultra running. I loved the events and venues they offered. They were the reason many of us got into the sport. That was then, this is now.

    The first I noticed something wrong was June of 2010 at the Lake Merritt half day. I showed up to volunteer and Sarah was nowhere to be found. The volunteers that day were left directing the event. Many runners thought WE were PCTR. It was embarrassing to say the least. We had no idea where the supplies and equipment were. Participants were upset that their shirts and coasters were not available at the finish.

    Apparently, Sarah’s no show that day was not the first and she had already destroyed the friendship and confidence of many of her previous supporters. This has been unraveling for 2 years now. As soon as she destroys one group of friends, she fishes on facebook for another group of unknowing victims. The size of the facebook fan base nearly guarantees her a steady stream of volunteers.

    The progression of destruction has been huge. The backlog of funds that need to be paid back are overwhelming and not likely to be returned (according to insiders). There are many runners who are still unknowingly registering for their events. PCTR must close and stop taking people’s money NOW. The company that once grew the sport is now responsible for tarnishing it. “Everyone” needs to stop “helping” PCTR until they can refund people’s money.

    Mark Gilligan

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  17. To the Anon who said "Naming the facebook transgressors kind of makes this post is a bit of a public stoning." -

    Do you mean Scott is publicly stoning the transgressors, or that the transgressors themselves are publicly stoning PCTR?

    I thought it was helpful that Scott didn't just say "they", but pointed out that these are people we know. I tell my kids all the time to watch what they put on Facebook - here's a good example.

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  18. thanks, scott, for a thoughtful writeup. two separate issues here: personal and professional. on the personal end, i care for sarah and would be glad to help her, whether it be a race or with painting her house; it really doesn't matter. on the professional end, things get more complicated. to a point, it matters little who the service provider is if folks are unhappy with the service provided. would you continue to go to a restaurant if the food and service was bad just because you care about the owner? How about if that restaurant took your money and than failed to make the meal?

    the point is you can care about someone and yet be unable to recommend their services. we've all people like that in our lives.

    i am hopeful though for pctr. i've done about 15-20 pctr ultras the past five years so sarah has a track record and lot goodwill with me. some of that goodwill has been spent on the SF One Day refund problems (I'm still waiting) but -- and maybe that makes me a sucker or a sentimental -- there's a lot more goodwill left if and when sarah/pctr be in a position to get things organized again.

    Shir Kochavi

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  19. Great blog, Scott. I just forwarded it to my entire running club. So many of us became trail runners because of PCTR (and now Coastal). I know I speak on behalf of my ultra-running friends when I say that we really hope PCTR can pull it together.

    p.s. Happy New Year!

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  20. I think we all wish the best for Sarah and PCTR. They have both been a big part of our lives. That being said, they should stop taking money from people, and put a hold on future events until they get things straightened out. Stop the bleeding, regroup, refund, and move on.

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  21. Great post, Scott!! Thanks for taking on a difficult and polarizing issue like this!

    Watching events unfold have certainly been heartbreaking! PCTR is more than a race company. It's a community. Right now, PCTR seems like it's at mile 70, in the middle of the night, puking it's guts out, while pushing the envelope on a course cutoff. As a supporter of PCTR, it's easy to want to let PCTR sit down for awhile, “It will be ok, we'll do better on the next one!”. We all know that this can also be a defining moment! In a time like this, PCTR will be forced to dig deep and push hard to buckle! Admit it, these are our favorite times in ultras; to see people come back from the dead to rally against the impossible and finish stronger than ever!! Can this happen with PCTR? Time will tell. A lot of that is up to Sarah, but folks who love PCTR can help! I can tell you that I'm also volunteering at Rodeo, Scott! I'll be there at an AS, happy to wrap my “PCTR's Most Enthusiastic Supporter” blanket around anyone who needs it! I'll have my easy button there too! ;) If I have any say in the matter, Rodeo is going to be an awesome experience for every runner, goshdarnit!! I want nothing less for both PCTR and even Inside Trail but more importantly, I want it for our amazing trail running community!

    Admittedly, PCTR hasn't been delivering the same product that we've all come to know and love. There are a lot of companies in the Bay Area that are delivering. I hope they continue to do well! As runners, we all benefit when the bar is continually raised! PCTR will always be dear to me. I sincerely hope that this is it's moment to shine!!! I really hope to see PCTR back on top of the heap, with ass-kicking courses, awesome volunteers, and SERIOUS FUN!!!

    All Day!
    ~Ken

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  22. As with so many others, my into to ultras was with pctr at the inaugural Forest Park trail run in Oregon in May 2006. I was training for my first 50k that summer and volunteered to see what it was all about. I think there were all of 9 people in the 50k that year, but it has sold out (or nearly) ever since. Sarah (and Wendall) were wonderful and welcoming to me. I wish Sarah the best and hope she and pctr can get through these troubled times. Thanks Scott for sharing some insight on the situation.

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  23. Thanks for the great write-up. And for not speculating and analyzing. I've only run two PCTR events, but just knowing they were availble for future explorations was motivational.
    Having tried to turn two small corporations around, I appreciate what the principals are going through. It's tough, it hurts so bad it can scar you for life. Fortunately for me, my second attempts in business and marriage saved me from life-long regret. I wish them all the best.

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  24. The "train came off the rails" sept 2011.

    No, the first train came off the rails in March 2010 at Woodside and has been off since.

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  25. In addition to my earlier comments, I need to add how very strange it is that there is virtually zero communication between Sarah/PCTR, and "us." Nothing on the PCTR FB page about past races or "clearing the air." Nothing about the Tim's message last week re: Rodeo Beach (and subsequent changes.) Nothing about this (excellent) piece written by Scott (assuming also that Scott reached out to Sarah for comment on this post), and nothing about future events. There's zero acknowledgement that anything's gone amiss outside of a few perplexing apologies.

    That's troublesome.

    Sarah has got to know that ours is a pretty understanding group, but the very essence of understanding is communication.

    Silence directed by counsel assumes that the silent party is listening to advice, and unfortunately, that doesn't sound like the case right now.

    Dammit, I love(d) PCTR events and am sick about this.

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  26. My first trail race was PCTR's Angel Island in June 2009. My husband volunteered making soup and chili with Sarah and she gave me a hug as I finished. I will always have a special place in my heart for PCTR for giving me such a wonderful first trail race experience. I hope the financial troubles and bad feelings are mended and they make a comeback stronger than before.

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  27. I agree with Eric 100% on this one. Sarah - lay it out there warts and all. If you've made some total cock-ups or have been going through some personal stuff - put it out there. We won't judge - we're all human - just like you.

    Lord almighty, I know I have had my fair share of failures in my life, from dropping out of school, women (sigh!), money worries and depression. I know the people I have hurt have been been very forgiving when I openly admit I've made mistakes and explained my situation to them.

    As Eric said, we can be a very forgiving group - just give us the opportunity to forgive.

    Cheers, Paul

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  28. no one has pointed out that inside trail has the exact same 2012 racing schedule as pacific coast trails for 2012. i doubt that the parks would allow permits for two races to go on the same trails at the same time on the same day. sounds fishy to me.

    i'll stick to spending my hard earned dollars at brazen, and coastal trail. so grateful they are both awesome, organized, and most importantly honest!!

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  30. C'mon, Anon...let's keep it civil. And I always appreciate the integrity of someone signing their name to their statement. It only holds 1/10,000th of its weight without it.

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  31. Tim, I'm still confused. What's the relationship between the InsideTrail races for 2012 and the races listed in the PCTR site? I took them to mean than InsideTrail will run these races on behalf of PCTR. Am I correct?

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  33. As long as ITR is on the line here, a question: why choose dates and locations already on PCTR's schedule? (whether permits are secured by PCTR or not)

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  35. As I understand it, 2 races can't occur at the same park on the same day. Which I think makes the following scenario possible.

    Suppose PCTR had events scheduled that had not been permitted. If you had inside knowledge of this and the skill set to put on such races, add a pinch of opportunistic drive, blend well... Now request permits for the same races and dates, well knowing that PCTR has fallen out offavor with many folks( given for understandable reasons). Once your permitted, PCTR is out, your inside the racing circuit, looking marvelous. -Richard Middaugh

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  37. If I were a competing race director, and another race organization had a calendar of events, I would at the very least choose different locations, if not different dates. Let's hope at least the courses aren't copied.

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  38. So are people actively registering for PCTR events that have no permit--and more importantly, will be denied a permit because there is already an ITR event taking place?

    Oy gevalt.

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  39. An opinion from a bankruptcy lawyer/runner who has done two PCTR events:

    I think Eric asks an important question, and is exactly what Mr. Gilligan is also pointing out. If PCTR is accepting money for events they don't have permits for, while simultaneously not refunding money for events that didn't happen, the line of ethics has been crossed.

    Why would they do it? One possibility is that the collected funds have been misappropriated, and there is no money to pay out the refunds owed. I see this a lot with companies who have balance sheet problems. It forces them into a Ponzi scheme style of cash flow that rarely ends well, unless they take additional debt/equity to cover the lost funds. I suspect this is what the legal assistance is trying to structure.

    In the meantime, I would heed Mr. Gilligan's advice and not pay into this until all refunds are paid out.

    BTW, it's not uncommon to launch a race without the full permit in place. You can reserve a weekend with the park first, then come back to them to show that you have demand, and finish out the paperwork. I guess it all comes down to how much you trust the event organizer if they both claim the same dates.

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  40. To the Anon I just deleted -

    Please sign your name.

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  41. My guess is that Inside Trail has the inside scoup to PCTR's finacial problems and realizes that this company is headed straight for bankruptcy. If PCTR will no longer be around than ITR might as well have those races on the same weekends because there is a demand. If this is true I wish Tim would just come out and say it instead of using the reasoning he mentioned above.

    I am going to follow Marks advice and keep my money.

    -George H.

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  42. There is a substantial difference between picking a few dates on a calendar and actually doing the leg work to secure those dates. Anyone could select a bunch of random dates, toss up a website and start collecting money. Which in essence sounds like what was done by PCTR.

    There is clearly a lot going on here that the general public (or even those close to the situation) dont know about.

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  43. With no personal knowledge of what is going on, other than this blog post (thank you Scott), I hope Sarah and PCTR can pull things back together and return to their former place of prominence in the ultrarunning community--too much hard work to just be cast aside.

    Run gently out there.

    John M. ( <= part of my real name)

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  44. I also completed my first ultra at a PCTR event and am thankful that I had that opportunity. However, there is no way that I would put up with a race company that had a "no show" at an event. Fortunately, those of us in Northern California are lucky to have many options for racing. There is no way I would continue to support a race company with such fraudulent behavior. I agree with Mark Gilligan's comments that PCTR needs to stop taking people's money until they have issued all needed refunds. At this point they are doing more harm to the sport. Hopefully they are shut down before doing any additional damage.

    Thanks Scott for the post. I was not aware of all the troubles at PCTR and hopefully it saves a few people from signing up for their events.

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  45. I find some aspects of this discussion quite troubling. PCTR has had well-publicized troubles and clearly needs to get its house in order. They should probably not be accepting new registrations at this point. However, no matter how bad things are with PCTR, how is the following scenario ethical? New guys move to Bay Area, work for PCTR for a few months, learn the ins and outs of permitting etc., quit PCTR, then in incredibly short order launch a new race company with identical business plan and event slate to PCTR. I clearly don't know the whole situation, but how is that even close to okay? Tim, since you're actively following this thread, maybe you can explain to me how I'm looking at this the wrong way. I'd like to understand exactly why this isn't what it looks like.

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  46. Nooooooo, PCTR cant go. Hope things workout

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  47. I wish Sarah the best! I have run several
    of PCTR's events in the past. Thank you
    Scott for your analysis of the issues that
    have plagued Sarah. I wish I could be out
    helping Saturday; but I have other plans.

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  48. Scott, thanks so much for a very descrptive and as much as possible non-emotional post on your side. Kwnoing Sarah, Wendell, Michael and Tim, it does get complicated. I will not leave any comments regarding what is going on - at the end of the day, I don't know. On personal side, I wish all involved the best. On business side - please work it all out for the sake of us, runners. It seems unethical that the money is not refunded and still taken for other races by PCTR. It is as well seems unethical that new company had booked the parks on the days that PCTR's races could have potentially been held, therefore not allowing PCTR to recover in the future. Although not completely out of the business world and quite normal, I guess. Bottom line is, I, as most of us, am confused. As a runner, if I were in CA, I would stick with Coastal Trail races for now just in case, to be safe...or even something completely different.

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  49. I'm looking forward to attending future PCTR events and Tim's events as well. As far as Tim learning the permit ins and outs, he had previous experience and knowledge about things of that nature. I have a feeling things are going to work out.
    Peace,
    Jennifer Cline
    PS I really like kens response :-)

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  50. Jasper, well said. I join you in the ranks needing clear understanding. Maybe I'm not seeing a spade as a spade either.
    Richard Middaugh

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  51. I also agree with Jasper. Just because you can "Because they were open dates." doesn't mean you should.

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  53. Thank you, Scott, for providing such a comprehensive overview of this unfortunate turn of events.

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  54. this comment was written by jennifer crofter:

    Dear Scott,
    THANKS so much for this article. The comments section on your blog were especially helpful for me to piece together the situation.

    I’m new to trail running after running many years on the road. I feel very lucky to live near so many great trails. After reading this article and the comments, I feel compelled to avoid trail RACES altogether and just run trails on my own free time! I don't need a shirt or a medal or anything like that. I already clock my own time. Most importantly, I don't have to stress about potential cancelled races or if my money is going to a worthwhile organization run by good people. Race registration is expensive! I’d rather buy a pair of trail running shoes and support my local mom and pop running store. If I pay for a pair of shoes, I’d actually get a pair unlike what seems to be going on with PC Trail races and their cancelled races/no refund situation.

    I have never met Sarah, but feel sorry for her situation whatever it may be. We all go through tough times. I hope she can come out of her hard times stronger.

    I agree with Jasper Halekas’ comments completely. The "Tim's" are preying on Sarah's company like two vultures. How awful! Greed brings out the true colors! Since the “Tim’s” are new to this area, I HOPE they do not represent what the Bay Area trail running community is like! Please tell me they are the exception!

    Scott, Happy 2012. Hope to see you out on the trails one day.

    Thanks,
    Jennifer Crofter

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  55. In defense of the Tims, at least one of them relocated to the area to work for PCTR. Shame on Sarah for misleading him and turning his life upsidedown. If he had known how bad the situation was, I'm sure he would not have considered taking the position.

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  56. By the way, it appears that the Tims are competing and doing nothing illegal, Sarah and PCTR are preying.

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  57. To Jennifer Crofter above, I feel compelled to repeat from my first comment: "I hope everyone can comment in these forums more respectfully and empathetically." Calling people you don't know "vultures" and accusing them of greed--guys who are quite involved in a scene you admit you're new to--is regrettable, in my view.

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  58. I hardly think that the Tims are "preying" on PCTR while it is down. Business is business, and if a business isn't doing what it is there to do, it needs to go. It isn't a charity. If the Tims are out in California to put on races, it doesn't sound like they can do that with PCTR without essentially taking over full responsibility of the company themselves. And if they are going to do that, they may as well cut ties from a sinking ship and start afresh. Everyone should be happy for a new company that will actually put on races and not just take your money without doing any of the legwork and with a 50-50 chance of actually making it happen.

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  59. As far as I can tell PCTR is out of business - there has not been any sign of life in some time (webpage hasn't been updated since Woodside, no responses on fb from PCTR, etc.)...

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  60. This all kind of looks like Inside Trading. Same dates, locations, etc. BTW; isn't La Sportiva also a PCTR sponsor?

    Joe Nehls

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  61. What is your record for comments on a post, Scott? I'm feeling a new PR.

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  62. I am not officially associated with PCTR or Inside Trail Racing, however I have been privy to details of the past few months that most of you have not. I tried to stay out of this discussion, but cannot allow these slanderous statements to stand without comment.

    Tim Long addressed most of the remarks above already, but I cannot tolerate “the Tims” being called unethical or likened to vultures. There is nothing greedy about starting a small business. Heck, entrepreneurialism is core to the SF Bay Area and should always be embraced. There is also nothing unethical about legally putting races in place for you, the trail racing community. Yes, the ITR 2012 schedule is extremely similar to that of PCTR, and I understand the confusion and the questions this raises. However, instead of lashing out at ITR, you should ask yourself, as some of you have, why PCTR is collecting registrations for races they have made absolutely no effort to put in place other than listing them on their website and accepting your hard-earned cash. And, ask yourself if these PCTR races would be held even if competing race companies did not exist.

    The Tims were very excited to align their personal passions with their professional endeavors and work for PCTR, however, once they saw behind the curtain they realized that PCTR is a sinking ship. The Tims gave a valiant effort trying to save it, but chose to start their own company rather than inherit the immense problems of an existing one. I cannot hold that decision against them, and neither should you. Without them stepping in and forming their own company you would have lost the opportunity to run many of the races you have grown to love.

    While we do not know yet what will happen in 2012, rest assured that the ITR races will be held and that these gentlemen have your best interest at heart.

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  64. I think this whole situation sucks. Sarah has been my friend for quite a while now and I hope everything works out for her on a personal and professional level.

    That said...this is a for-profit business and what has been happening is unacceptable. I think Tim had the right idea for moving out to Cali to help PCTR out. He has a huge passion for the sport but I think it might have been to little to late. I have been hearing PCTR is in the RED (past the point of no return) and I think everyone should follow Marks advice and wait to sign up for any races. I hope I end up being wrong because I have always loved PCTR events.

    From what I can tell this is not a PCTR versus ITR situation at all. Regardless of what happens I know Tim will do a great job with ITR and I have zero reservations about signing up and running his races in the future. If the bay area peeps are quick to boycott his races than hopefully he will spend his time down here in SoCal. Our trails are much better anyways......seriously they are.

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  65. I have to say that I'm mystified about why some of the people commenting here feel obliged to slam Inside Trail Racing. They're not the ones who owe thousands of dollars in refunds, or who have simply refused to respond to so many of the people who have clamored for their refunds. Scott provided a nice recap of some of the strange happenings with PCTR, but didn't even mention the Nov 12 Stinson Beach race, when Sarah showed up at 8:10 to let everyone know that the 8:30 race wasn't going to happen because she had been refused the required permits. She sent an email out at 3am the night before, but not surprisingly most of the assembled hundreds of runners had no idea that they had shown up for a cancelled race. I was standing next to some runners from Oregon who were absolutely stunned to learn that they had driven to Northern California for a race that wasn’t going to happen. I did happen to see the email in the morning and decided to still show up to run with our training group, but as a result of that experience I'm not inclined to feel badly for PCTR if they haven't secured permits for upcoming events. And as for Jennifer's comments that the Tims are "preying on Sarah's company", have you even read any of the comments on the PCTR Facebook page, where one runner after another complains about shabby treatment by PCTR??

    I also COMPLETELY disagree with Olga's comment that she wouldn't attend an Inside Trail Racing event right now: As trail runners, shouldn't we be doing everything we can to support a local start-up that is trying to create fantastic races for us? We’re lucky to be able to add another company to the already rich calendar provided by Brazen and Coastal Trail Runs, and I think the least we can do is to sign up for one of their races and see how they do. If they treat the community well, they’ll succeed, and if not, then another company will (and should) step in to fill the void. I intend to give them the benefit of the doubt.

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  66. to sarah smith,
    from jennifer crofter

    i have no regrets whatsoever for my statement. freedom of speech should be welcome instead of shut down. i might have a difference of opinion, but hey i'll call it like i see it. sarah is in a difficult situation and the "tim's" have decided to profit from it. vultures circle the dead waiting to pounce. is PC Trails not dying right now with Inside Trails ready to take over their race schedule? if that isn't greed then i don't know what is.

    i have no intention of supporting any of this drama with my hard earned dollars. i will run on trails for FREE and enjoy them. isn't that what running is about? or is it about race profits?

    For the record, i think sarah continuing to collect race reg, not refunding fees, and what the " Tim's" are all doing is horrible which is why i won't support either company. after reading the comments in support of sarah, it seems she is in a difficult position. we've all been there and i hope she comes out of it.

    my opinion is valid regardless of if i'm new to trail running or not. what kind of logic is that? is there some exclusive trail membership i need to qualify for to have a valid opinion and express it? and for those who are opposed to my opinion, i actually appreciate and enjoy reading your various opinions. i'd be bored otherwise if it was a bunch of people who agreed and thought alike.


    Jennifer Crofter

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  67. Footfeathers said..."90% of the comments on here are from people who have no idea what they're talking about."

    If this is the arrogance one can expect from Inside Trail, I for one will NEVER do any of their events.

    I have known Sarah and Wendell since before their very first PCTR event, the Diablo 50K. I volunteered at that run and many, many others and have also run many of their events. Over the last few years I have lost contact with both due to work conflicts, so don't know a lot of details on the current situation.

    But, and it's a big but, both have made Bay Area trail running an explosive growth industry through their own hard work. Before PCTR there was maybe one ultra a month put on by local running clubs and the only other trail races were Envirosports. Now there are several established trail running companies. Those other companies had the guts to go head to head with PCTR and forge their own identity by putting in the effort to design new courses in different locations than PCTR.

    It looks to me like Inside Trail isn't willing to put in the work to create their own identity and so I have to question their commitment to the level of service they will provide to the Bay Area trail running community. Remember that Inside Trail is not only directly using PCTR's courses and dates, but to survive, it will also need to either attract new trail runners or siphon runners from the already established companies/events.

    Call me old school, but I'll personally stick with those that have shown a true commitment to giving something back to the local running community over time.

    Jim Winne

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  69. ITR seems to be working with Brazen and CTR so as not to have to "siphon off" runners from either of them. PCTR has seemingly made no effort to put on the upcoming races for which they are collecting money other than putting them on a calendar. Wishing doesn't get permits or set up aid stations or attract sponsors. Given the lively (and spirited!) running community in the greater Bay Area, it certainly seems like there is plenty of demand for races. So if a few of you boycott ITR out of nostalgia for the good old days with PCTR, the loss is yours.

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  71. To Jennifer Crofter. SLS didn't shut you down; just stated a difference of opinion. Likewise, I disagree with some of your comments, while, at the same time, valuing your contribution and better for having read it.

    I think the problem here are that some folks are desperately seeking a good guy / bad guy narrative or some other unifying theme that could make sense of disparate facts. the bottom line is that we do not have enough information. let's stay patient. not saying you cannot form an opinion, but it's hard for me to see how folks can be so sure.

    my sense is that, more than anything, this story is a sad one, and, while the professional angle is the reason why topic is on the site, Sarah's health is the most urgent issue. commercial consequences aside, her recent behavior is a concern and I am worried about her (e.g., her failure to reply to emails/posts may reflect unavailability, as opposed to commercial disregard, and the site may ver well be on autopilot).

    If anyone can confirm that she is OK on that front many of us would feel better. If there is anything we can do to help her, that would be even better. to the extent anyone wants to respond to me personally with this info, my email is imdelaw@gmail.com. The rest of our discussion, while undoubtedly interesting, is, at this point, just details. Races come and go, it's the people we meet on these races that change our lives.

    Preachy, I know. Sorry.

    Shir Kochavi

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  72. Jim, are you against the introduction of all new products and all competition across all industries or just this one? How dare Burger King compete with McDonalds. How dare Apple compete with Microsoft. How dare PCTR have competed with Envirosports... Competition is key to a thriving industry and the winners are always the customers because they end up with options that are more numerous and higher in quality.

    For the record, ITR is not using PCTR's courses and, last I checked, no one has ownership over "dates".

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  73. JJ said...ITR seems to be working with Brazen and CTR so as not to have to "siphon off" runners from either of them.

    Coastal, Brazen,UltraRunner.net, norcalultras are all competing directly with each other. Just because they try not to schedule their events on the same day, doesn't mean they aren't competing for a limited runner dollar pool any more than Kmart and Target not being on the same street corner means they aren't competing.

    Tim L. I do appreciate your straightforward reply. But to win me over, show me some creativity on IT's part :-)

    Jim Winne

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  75. The idea that Inside Trail Racing folks, for example Tim Long, simply joined PCTR for experience and then split is absurd. How incredibly cynical. Not everyone becomes criminally insane with they see a dollar bill.

    I know Tim L well enough to take him at his word on this, and to accept that his interest is in putting on good sporting events. That's it. ITR is obviously the product of realizing things were worse than they thought.

    Plus, think about it: why would someone intentionally join a troubled organization for only two months (or however long it was), with the risks to reputation that involves if things go bad? Makes absolutely no sense at all.

    Just let it play out without finding bad guys around every bush.

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  76. Sarah is not ok, but she is coming out of the hospital today. The reason why the permits have not been secured for PCTR is that Sarah was in and out of the hospital with serious condition (probable organ replacement) right after the PCTR event schedule was published, hence the void in timely permitting. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Tims were with the company at the time and should have been capable of securing the permits themselves for PCTR, especially since they have extensive experience in that field.

    The turn of the events leaves me speechless. Blatantly copying the courses and dates and advertising the PCTR Rodeo Beach Trail Run as part of ITR's schedule is not exactly a pinnacle of ethics, too.

    If you would like to help out the trail running community, please consider volunteering your time at Rodeo Beach on December 31st. It may be your last time being involved in a PCTR event. I will be there.

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  77. What strikes me as odd is that PCTR one way or the other is dead. If its not official yet it will be. I have no inside information, but think about it - no shows, cancellations, non-payment of refunds, a dead website. They could easily be sued into oblivion at any moment.

    Why anybody would ever register for another of their races after so many continuous race barfs is beyond me (we could all excuse 1 or maybe 2).

    It sure seems to me that Inside Trail is trying to revive and rejuvinate these races. If they didn't step in, the entire series would be dead and ruined until somebody else tried to start something in 2013. Why waste an entire year?

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  78. And there you go, read Michael's comment before mine. Organ transplant? PCTR contracting the next race out through Inside Trail? Inside Trail having an agreement with PCTR? Inside Trail lining up all the permits? Connect the dots. I again am not privy to any inside information, but I just don't see any sinister motives here. It sure seems to me that one set of folks are incapable of continuing, and another separate set of folks are stepping in to take the reigns. If I were going to step in, I surely would start as a new entity too - imagine all the legal entanglements around PCTR. I wouldn't touch that with a 10 foot pole reading what I can see here.

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  79. From Nancy Shura-Dervin of TrailRunEvents

    Anonymous said...
    “If I were a competing race director, and another race organization had a calendar of events, I would at the very least choose different locations, if not different dates. Let's hope at least the courses aren't copied.”

    This is my first time speaking up on these issues but as the question of integrity and opportunism comes up, I will share an experience I had not so long ago.

    I am the RD for the Bulldog 50K Ultra Run/25K Trail Run. We just had our 20th running in August 2011.

    Not too long ago, PCTR came down to Malibu Creek State Park in Los Angeles County and
    started a new 50K/25K race at a different time of year but on exactly the same course as the Bulldog 50K, except in reverse. The start/finish line and all aid stations were in the same locations, etc. I learned from a very reliable park official that the first year of this event was not without some glitches given that this company is Northern CA based, they either didn't know or ignored the fact that some of the race course crosses over National Park land and requires a permit from NPS. Likewise, two splits of the course have 5.5 mostly downhill miles between stations at the Bulldog that become 5.5 mostly uphill miles, without aid, when the course is run
    backwards.

    It appeared to me that by putting on events almost bi-weekly throughout the year, this company had exhausted Northern CA venues and was now moving down to Southern CA to essentially "copy" some of our existing races.

    I contacted one of the PCTR RDs by email and politely asked why exactly they would do that? The response was verbally combative.

    So, I further asked, "would you like it if I came up to Crissy Field, say in the month of May, and put on the "San Francisco 12&24 Hour Runs, on exactly the same course as your run... but in reverse?

    No response at all.

    Then followed the PCTR divorce and the birth of CTR. The result of this has been to triplicate many of these venues.

    So now there are...

    Count'em...

    (3) 50K/25K races on The Bulldog race course in Malibu Creek State Park, using the exact same start/finish location, same # and locations of aid stations, same exact race course, albeit in reverse.

    In spite of all this, the Bulldog races were not affected negatively. We continue to have record numbers each year and most of our loyal followers (both runners and volunteers) do come back. Goes to prove that 19 years of stellar reputation counts for something!

    I will say that over the last few years, several runners have run one of my competitor’s races and subsequently saw the "Bulldog" date, and sent emails stating that they mistakenly thought they had run "THE" Bulldog Race! I hated to tell them that they actually ran an imposter race!

    So speaking as a R.D., assuming that race management thinks first and foremost about “community” is a false assumption.

    The spirit of community was not demonstrated to me at all when they encroached onto our exact race course down here in Los Angeles, even against my objections. Anyone who thinks that RDing is not a business has their head in the clouds. Some race management companies demonstrate more ethical practices than others but in the end, we should all remember that what goes around will certainly come back around.

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  81. Thank goodness for ITR.

    David T.

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  82. To clarify Scott’s blog, I founded the company, developed events, and was the event organizer for almost 10 years.

    Sarah & I separated in April 2009. We continued to operate as business partners for a year. And during that period, I developed Coastal Trail Runs to produce the Bizz Johnson Marathon and add new/somewhat different events.

    Similar to Michael and now to Tim L./Tim S., Sarah & I parted ways due to professional reasons in April 2010. At the time, I believed the best possible scenario for PCTR and Sarah personally would be continue PCTR without me. We agreed, and I knew, that I could continue developing successful events with Coastal over time. I also envisioned Sarah being able to successfully continue PCTR events with the help of her impressive management team.

    Sarah is very good at hosting the events as highlighted in Sarah Lavender Smith’s article. Organizational skills and business management are not her forte. For PCTR to recover, IMHO, it needs a management team or strong event director willing to organize events with minimal help from Sarah. In answer to Scott’s question, I believe PCTR can still survive. But Inside Trail Racings strategy to hold the well-established PCTR events on the same day at the same venues on the same course, makes a recovery more difficult. I really don’t understand why that encroachment is necessary. Schedule it the following weekend or month or season. I can only guess there is some type of agreement between PCTR & Inside Trail Racing.

    It has been heartbreaking to see the ongoing struggles and now pending demise of PCTR. It’s very disconcerting not getting any information from PCTR. Maybe Atty. Makoff can give some input…

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  83. I, for one, appreciate that Tim Long is responding to queries, and as one of the 90% who is willing to admit he doesn't know what is going on, I guess I'm willing to take him at his word. However, I hope he understands why some of those who aren't in the know see at least the appearance of impropriety, and maybe aren't quite convinced by the "communicative and transparent".

    It really doesn't have anything to do with previous RD experience. The fact is that there was a very short time period between the Tims working at PCTR, and them quitting PCTR and rolling out a business which to all intents and purposes is a carbon copy of PCTR. If Tim doesn't see why this looks suspicious, I think he is being a bit disingenuous. Most of us assume that it takes some time to put together a professional looking web site, and get permits for a dozen or so races. Apparently this all must have happened in the last couple weeks since the Tims quit PCTR. That is impressive, and speaks well to the future of Inside Trail. My only question is, if you're going to the effort of creating this whole new company, why create something that is as near as I can tell an exact duplicate of PCTR?

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  84. "It has been heartbreaking to see the ongoing struggles and now pending demise of PCTR."

    Wendell- you are currently in the middle of a lawsuit and suing PCTR. What are you talking about?

    Dave

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  85. Wow! Sounds like the Sopranos for trail racing.

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  86. i'm stan king

    few people MOVE to a new state without a job in place. so tim had that with pc trails for 2 months, and then jumped ship. not a big deal. we all quit jobs if they don't work out. the replicating the race schedule is what is questionable. i agree with jasper on that point.

    to have the bulldog race director jump on this comments and talk about sarah copying her course says A LOT! bulldog is a model race down in LA. her take on copying race courses is something i agree with. why copy? do the WORK and make up your own course and schedule!

    stan king

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  87. I'm in the business of asking questions, so allow me ask something that is none of my damn bees wax, but is surely on most peoples minds.

    What's wrong with Sarah, and is there anything we can do?

    Eric Schranz
    ultrarunnerpodcast.com

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  89. Dave, yes there are legal issues but it's still heartbreaking to see.

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  90. With or without the Tims and ITR, PCTR was and is going down. So I am glad the Tims have founded ITR.

    David T.

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  92. Dear Anonymous (posting at 8:01PM 12/27),

    If you're going to make an accusation like that, please sign your name. Your word means nothing until then and only be perceived as a cowardly accusation.

    -Dave

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  93. Thanks, Dave. You beat me to it.

    Just deleted about four anonymous comments. Again, if you're going to accuse someone or say something controversial, please have the integrity to sign your name. I think those that have had led to a fascinating discussion.

    Much appreciated.

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  96. Thanks for posting this, Scott. I appreciate the way you managed to discuss the topic with such a thoughtful tone. First, I will pile on with my own sadness that PCTR has faltered so egregiously over the past year or so. Like so many others, I found such valuable experiences and community through PCTR. I even found my husband (or rather, was pointed in his direction by Sarah). So, yeah, I have plenty of PCTR nostalgia to go around.

    All that said, I'm not here to defend PCTR. With all that's happened, I wouldn't fault anyone for giving up on the business. And I certainly don't fault the Tims for choosing to go their own way. I agree, however, with the posters who are questioning the appropriateness of Inside Trail Racing basically taking over PCTR's 2012 calendar. I understand that there's every likelihood that PCTR wasn't going to manage to put those events on, and I'm not accusing ITR of doing anything that's not strictly allowed (or even clever) from a business perspective. But to adopt PCTR's schedule, with nearly identical course maps, just doesn't seem like "the right thing to do."

    I specifically valued the contribution of the Anonymous who posted about permitting timelines at 6:35. Those were the same kinds of questions the latest developments have raised for me. I'd like to encourage that person to return to post and sign his/her name.

    I'd also like to point out that someone signing with a common first name is pretty much the same as being anonymous.

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  97. the last post had a full complete name and was deleted. so much for sticking by the rules of your game, scott. what a crock. how skewed can this comments section be?

    frank levenger

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  98. I'm not sure how that happened, Frank. Please post again.

    I'm generally just looking for the anonymous posts who call people out, or refer to a post that I had deleted. I don't see anything in my deleted comments section that was signed by Frank.

    And btw, some of the authors are coming in and deleting their own...I'm not doing that.

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  99. I'll skip the drama thank you very much. I would not send in a dime to any of these companies. I'll stick to the class organizations who put on WTC50k, AR50, Miwok, North Face, Dick Collins and many more.

    I sincerely hope for the good of trail running Wendell and Sarah find some other line of work.

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  100. scott, you didn't delete my post. but there was a post by a josh steiner which was deleted and he had his complete name on his post.

    thanks for keeping my post around.

    frank levenger

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  101. You gotta be kidding me. Now ITR is back to 'putting on' the Rodeo Beach event after saying they werent just a week earlier? The event is in a few days. Meanwhile CTR is holding the copycat version of the SF24 that was cancelled by PCTR. Their personal drama is an embarrassment to the ultra community. As to the racing team, how could one possibly want to represent PCTR at this point. Kind of like wearing a Team Madoff singlet.

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  102. I live in Colorado, but I have had my eye on PCTR for a while as I love Northern California and have been trying to plan a trip to run a race there. The comments demonstrate that Sarah and PCTR did a lot of good things and made a lot of people happy over the years. I hope things work out for her. I also think some of the things that have gone down with PCTR are inexcusable. But I think that she had enough goodwill built up that if she had just TOLD people what was going on, or even if she was communicative about saying"there has been a problem, but this is how I'm fixing it and it won't happen again", it would make a lot of people feel a lot better.
    As for the races on the same days, if the Tims know for a fact that PCTR was not going to be able to put those races on, I think it makes sense to use established venues(if it ain't broke...). It could even be viewed as a great benefit to runners who were planning on those events and now can still run them. If PCTR was still trying to put those events on(in which case updating the website or giving us communication to that effect would have been helpful), I think it looks bad. Hope it works out for all involved. Thanks for addressing this, Scott.

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  103. Frankly, I'm slightly frabbergasted at the lack of conscientious response by the Tims, it's been 7 hours since their last post and comments seem to flood in. I hope they do not rely on their peons to chime in, who readily defend the "America, oh the land of equal opportunistic bounty" concept.

    I don't think that this what America was built upon, and you don't even have to be an American to even understand the basic concept of "do not steal".

    I think most people in the Bay Area community hope for the best for PCTR, and I would like to emphasise the drive and hope, before it is publicly certain and official that that the company does not put events any longer. Before that, any attempt at poaching the courses and dates by some mushroom company is at best questionable.

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  104. I think people would be more sympathetic Michael if PCTR simply was pro-active with refunds, communicated clearly, and at least showed some attempt at fair business. It's not really stealing, as much as it is PCTR simply abandoning ship, and basically blowing it over and over again.

    - Mark Holland

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  105. I was the one who posted about the timelines at 6:35PM. I intentionally left it as anonymous as I cited my job and the way things are today with employers potentially using social websites to track employees, will leave it that way. If Scott considers my comments as calling IT Racing out, so be it, it's his site. I looked for a way to email him directly so I could tell him my name and the reasons I went anonymous but couldn't find one. So Scott, if you want my name to un-delete my post and would keep keep it confidential, give me some way to contact you.

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  106. Michael - Perhaps the Tims are too busy planning fantastic events for Bay Area runners in 2012 to keep play-by-play tabs on this blog with responses to every individual comment... :)

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  107. Yes, I will co-sign many of the comments above that ask one simple question of Tim/footfeathers: why are you putting on races that perfectly mirror PCTR's race schedule?

    No, it's not illegal. I think what irks people (myself included) is that these tactics (in particular, the mirroring schedule) go against what I perceive to be some of the core principles of the trail running community: competing with integrity, running for the love of trails/nature, supporting each other when one is down, etc.

    This is the second time a company has 'spun off' PCTR. Wendell did it with integrity (different dates, altered courses, clear communication), class and humility. And he had to work hard. There weren't always a whole lot of people at those first few CTR races. But through hard work Coastal is growing and flourishing.

    There are enough trail runners to go around for everyone.

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  108. I'd love to support ITR but its not feeling right from the go. ITR is either posturing (betting PCTR will burn) or they have a deal with PCTR to hatch a Phoenix.

    Betting it's the latter and a deal was struck whereby ITR would take over PCTR races and Sarah would get some percentage of future revenues. PCTR agrees to leave the website up to capture the loyal or uninformed but all management AND revenues will now be collected by ITR. At some point in the not to distant future a under-new-management-404-redirect occurs and the gig is up.

    Own up to it now and save the embarrassing *no-affiliation-with-pctr-in-any-regard* retraction.

    Tim Long writes above 'The events on our calendar are dates that were wide open at the respective parks'. Really? Wide open? As in no running event was scheduled on this date at this venue? Holy crap, then we have the mother of all coinkydinks and monkeys are flying out of my ass. Come on Mr. Long, cut the BS. If you haven't cut a deal then you are outright predatory - positioning your organization to plan-b a pretty good chunk of Bay Area ultra market share when PCTR flatlines.

    Hugh Bosely

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  109. @ Michael. Your flabbergasted that the Tim's haven't responded to someone else's blog in 7 hours?!?! Really?!?! The irony is PCTR hasn't replied (alledgedly) to people concerning refunds for over 7 weeks but your flabbergasted Tim One and Tim Two haven't commented on Scott's blog for 1/3rd of a day.
    @ Scott. Well written piece btw. Great insight although I'm sure it's just scratching the surface but offered some paint to the picture.
    All the best to everyone for a healthy and trail filled 2012, regardless of what race your running.

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  110. I will add this as a factoid.

    Earlier this year in July Dave Mackey chronicled his experiences at PCTR's Table Rock 25k . In his report, he criticized PCTR. That critical portion has since been apparently deleted. However, footfeathers/Tim's comment is still there. Here goes:

    "Footfeathers said...

    Thanks Dave.
    There's absolutely nothing wrong with sharing your opinion on an event (or event organization). I wish someone had told me about the 'quality' of those events before I wasted my money on the entry fee. It's too bad, too, because they put on so many events. If they churned some of the profits back into them, they'd be much better off. They're incredibly lucky Brazen Racing doesn't really get into the ultra distances. Brazen's events are [many] levels above PCTR in all categories.

    Rip up UTMB. I know you can!"

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  111. "frabbergasted" should read as "flabbergasted" - sorry for the mistake - attention to details is important.
    Mark, as I pointed it out before, the people who neglected to mention the Tims while Sarah was in the hospital were slightly out of the loop. There was an attempt to communication, yes, but it died soon thereafter. Do you really want to commit to Tims' flickering fire via his newbie website that takes entry fees by PayPal only? In my very humble opinion, you do not put any courses and take people's money by advertising to them the paradise what PCTR has to offer (given it has a good directorship). And by stealing I meant the inability to procure the permits when working for PCTR (or the calculation of such) when there was a clear understanding that PCTR has got the dates and working on them? Shame shame shame. You do not belong in Bay Area. Maybe somewhere in Colorado your name resonates, but not here.

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  112. Frank -

    Ah, I see the post from Josh Steiner that I deleted. This was not due to anything Josh said, but simply because he was referring to an accusation written by one of the anonymous commenters. I didn't want to give that Anon any credit for what he/she said without a signature.

    Josh, please do comment again if you would like. The floor is yours, and you don't need to respond to the Anon that was there previously.

    SD

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  113. For those who wonder - Sarah let Tim Long take over her house when he came over, when he had no place to live. By Sarah's charity - he had a whole house with two bedrooms and the garage, including access to driving the company Tundra truck when his POC was in the shop. I'm sure it was not such a bad deal, he enjoyed his time there. He moved to California like all the gold miners had their mindset on the bounty. Yes, he had the the experiense in the timing. Yes, he handled the sweaty chips. All three kinds of them. With 40,000 participants. But when it came to integrity, something clicked. He was not the same person when he was handling sweaty chips. All three kinds of them. He wanted more. Saliva was dripping and the eyes glowed red. The smell of money was owerpowering the common sense. "I SAY, I'll TAKE OVER, and if you dont agree, talk to the BBB!". The Bay Area running community was puzzled. Some came to defend the new venture, and some came to defend the the essence of the pioneer of the the trail running in the Bay Area. There are several running companies (aside from multisport companies) that put on great events, and it's only fair to give the patriarch of the trail running the benefit of the doubt. If you don't, I'm not sure if I wold like to have you at my own events (which are only announced upon the permit completion and the event information published). I hope there's enough runners and bikers to go around :)

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  114. post by dennis stone

    michael, i think you have the beginnings of a novel here. i really enjoyed reading that! but it was also very sad to read.

    see, something good can come from the comments section! keep writing, michael. i'll keep reading.

    very sorry for the situation with sarah and pc trails.

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  116. Michael dont you work for PCTR? Why didnt you step in and help?

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  117. From Peter Rabover (not anonymous)

    I dont know all the details, but I am certainly one of the people who is out over a $100+ due to the cancelled 24hr event without any response from Sarah.

    To Michael, capitalism, bay area or not is a cut throat opportunistic business and when people put up their own capital and time, call it red-eyes of greed or paying the bills, being nice is not it. You dont see Apple holding off on its latest products until Samsung catches up; and closer to trail racing, you dont see LaSportiva sending its latest shoe designs to Brooks just because the Brooks marketing director got sick.

    If Sarah was a good business manager, which according to her former business partner of 10 years, she is not, she would have back up systems in place to prevent something like cancelled races from happening.

    It doesnt matter whether Tims copied her entire schedule or not, its their right and there is nothing unethical about it. I think the Bay Area running community is about putting on good races and according to that standard PCTR definitely does not belong. I wish good luck to the Tims and I hope they meet that standard.

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  118. "Michael, dont you work for PCTR? Why didnt you step in and help?"

    I would love to help as long as there were not business opportunists around. It seems that they are modeling their business on PCTR. I'm doing it so that everyone would have the unique experience without the course repetition.

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  119. Wow. More Inside Trail controversy though this is certainly a little more contentious and Californian.

    My two cents: I know Tim and started Inside Trail (the running news/commentary site) with him back in July 2011. We started a wordpress site that I still manage, but Tim worked on the newer Inside Trail website that he and the Tims now run to promote their race direction. So, to respond to Jasper, the website was not launched in the last month or so, corresponding with Tim's usurpation of PCTR. The site has been around for awhile; Tim has just tweaked it for this new (bigger) endeavor.

    Having talked to Tim about some of this (practically in haiku-esque emails, meaning very superficially), I do not think there is anything really scandalous going-on here. One of our exchanges amounted to me saying, congrats on the timing and actually that had to do more with him being in a position to really take-on some leadership with PCTR because of PCTR's troubles. This ITR development I am less clear on, but it sounds like PCTR's troubles have become more significant and Tim got out from under it still quite determined to organize some trial racing.

    All of this to say, I doubt Tim is out to hurt anyone.

    Having said that, I certainly understand the difficulty some are having with his new business seemingly piggy-backing off of PCTR's calendar and credibility. I am not privy to the details of ITR "taking" PCTR's dates and courses, etc. Some of the discussion in these comments on that note do sound a little un-nerving. The timing and perception will, understandably, raise some eye-brows.

    The question is what exactly is the status of PCTR? Are they re-organizing? If so, then this could get quite dramatic, I would think. If the company is going out of business, then good for Tim, I would think.

    In the end, as I hope is clear from my perspective, both "sides" here have valid concerns. I just hope this all gets resolved peacefully.

    As a native Californian, I also hope that whatever does transpire can continue to showcase some of California's gorgeous trail.

    Happy running

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  120. I'm am stepping in and helping. I will try to revive your finish line experience, whether you want to just dissappear or have a PCTR trophy in the end. Right, Tims?? You got it covered?? Or are you planning on advertising yourself and your venture on 31st?

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  122. Michael Popov- Sarah told me herself just last month that she fired you from PCTR because you were lazy and hurting the business.

    Anna Wagner

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  123. When I look at the bloated California - and in particular, Bay area - ultrarunning event schedule, I wonder: Just how many times can the same event be run in a year (albeit with a different name or slight variation of course)?

    I also wonder when the non-running populace - the ones who just want to go out for a hike with the family - the ones we shoo to the side of the trail so we can fly by at 15 minutes per mile in all our Salomon clad glory and gel wrapper chucking irresponsibility (not YOU or anyone you know of course ... the trash just 'appears')- get sick of having the park get taken over and start complaining.

    I wonder when the Park officials start getting tired of certain companies - or worse, ALL companies - using the park's trails and roads for profit to the detriment of the other visitors.

    I am unimpressed with these goings on and will not support any of these companies to include Inside Trail Racing now that they are back doing business with PCTR.

    Happily, I don't need any of them. Last time I looked all of those trails, routes and so forth are open daily - I'll take 'em without the hoardes of runners and you can keep the 'coaster.'

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  124. Back in the good old days, early 2000s, Bev and I wanted to put on a race in Red Bluff, and we e-mailed around to the various RDs and people doing other sporting events in our area, including Wendall and Sarah to find out what their schedules were so we could have no competing event. Everyone was always generous, and we even got some free advertising from some. Ah, the good old days, when love of the sport came before money.
    Woodside/Purisma has always been one of my favorite PCTR events, and the Bizz Johnson for CTR. Hopefully folks will continue to have events of those types to support. I wish Sarah and Wendall the best in their future endeavors whatever they may be. See everyone at Rodeo Beach, and hope to see some folks in Red Bluff on April 21.
    Alan Abbs

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  126. Scott, understatement of the year: "... and his personal style had driven regular volunteers away."

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  127. I can vouch for the Abbs' Red Bluff event. I've run the 50 km a couple of times and it was ultrarunning as it should be: nice folks; aid stations as promised; clearly marked course; no hassles; appropriately priced; and Sunsweet prunes for the drive home :-).

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  130. footfeathers, two questions. What date did you officially leave PCTR and what date did IT Racing first apply for permits in it's own name?

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  132. Perhaps you should put away the laptop when too much coffee is flowing...Really, resorting to threats of INS and police...This whole blog discussion is just really disgusting and should probably be deleted, it's not helping anybody, it's just causing many people to respond with gut level jabs...Maybe this is why I only do a few key races a year and spend the rest of the time running trails alone in the Sierra. There is something to be said for old school simplicity.

    Anyway, I hope all parties find peace...Maybe fatass style events are the way to go...

    Howie Stern-Mammoth Lakes

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  134. The only reason FF moved to California in the first place is because the feds started poking around his old job - at the Second Mile as right hand man to Jerry Sandusky.

    OK, how that we have child rape in with alcoholism, abortion, INS, police, lawyers, theft, conspiracy theories, and whatever else, this thread is now elevated to letsrun.com message board status.

    I spent about two weeks running around California over the past year. Great trails, great beer, great people. Nothing like what this thread would suggest.

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  136. morgan rossi (not anonymous)

    "Oh, and Michael, if you show up to Rodeo with this sort of aggressiveness, the police will be called (and my cousin who works for INS - just fyi my young friend)." tim long

    first of all i am not taking michael's side. i don't even know him, but calling the INS as a threat? this is xenophobic and beyond offensive! oh, wait i guess this way of thinking could be applied to you, tim long. you aren't a native from CA, right? is there an "INS" for out of staters too? applause all around to you. Way to attract new customers with discrimination of all things! Tim, you sound like a true winner! How about running for political office in your near future?

    I will boycott ALL Inside Trail races and have fun spreading the word to my many many trail running friends all over the nation. word of mouth advertising can be your best or worse enemy. never forget that! tim long, your attitude and outlook is downright hideous. i hope your race company dies in a quick flame and you move back to the pit you came from. we’re counting down the days!

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  137. alexandra clark

    oh, threats of violence and INS from a xenophobe! this is getting better than daytime soaps! tim long, you sound like a nightmare! no money from me for your duplicated race schedule.

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  138. While calling Michael out on this blog was perhaps inappropriate - and Tim removed his post - upholding our federal laws regarding legal presence in this country is not xenophobia, it's performing your duty as an American. Please cease the unjustified, intentionally hurtful name calling.

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  139. then perhaps tim long would be better suited patrolling the borders. he seems to have enough violence and anti immigrant hostility to go around. stephanie, do you work for the INS? your post sounded like it from a training manual. do you patrol your neighborhood as your american duty to make sure immigrants are removed?

    craig sutter

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  140. There was no threat of violence!

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  141. Craig - I don't work for the INS, but thank you for complimenting my professional writing style.

    It saddens me when people link supporting the legal systems in place for immigration with being "anti-immigrants" or xenophobic.

    This is all I will say on this matter, as I am confident Scott did not create his trail runner's blog for political debate. Sorry Scott, but I cannot tolerate hateful slander. Again, Craig, thanks for the praise.

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  142. First off, thanks Scott for posting... It started off as great a synopsis of what has happened and, initially, the comments were positive and constructive on both sides. Sadly, anything positive or constructive seems to have long since ended.

    I'm not going to jump in to the fray here with endless conjecture, misinformation, he-said-she-said and chest puffing posturing. But, I would like to comment on a couple things that have been stated as "fact" regarding Inside Trail events.

    Regarding Inside Trail events and courses being a mirror image of PCTR (to be a stickler for technical details, which I kind of am, if we were a mirror image of PCTR we would be the exact opposite of it). Has anyone here actually run an Inside Trail event? I kind of doubt it. Has anyone seen all our "mirror image" course maps? I doubt that too, since we have posted a total of 3 maps on our website. San Pedro Valley Park, where trail options are somewhat limited, so yes, our course is basically the same as what PCTR and CTR currently run there. Lake/Anthony Chabot – Courses are different than what PCTR and CTR currently run. Are they similar? Yes, we all start in the Marina and have to run around the reservoir, which means a good portion of the courses have to be same. The longer courses are designed to run as much of the single track in the park as possible. These are the trails that I enjoy running there, so it’s what our course is. A map for Rodeo Valley was posted recently, which is also just about the same as the PCTR and CTR courses. This course is going to be changing as we are working with people who are, for lack of a better term, trail encyclopedias and are helping us build something unique, not only for “regular” events starting at Rodeo Beach but for larger single distance focused events throughout Marin. All told, this is about 10% of what we have planned for next year. Until you run an Inside Trail event, it is difficult to pass judgment.

    For all the other “demands” and inquiries about PCTR and Inside Trail, I am not going to comment. There are plenty of items that cannot, or should not, be discussed in a public forum such as this (or private for that matter). For anyone who would like to discuss Inside Trail feel free to reach out to me... I don’t read comments here all that often.

    If you want to run a great race in a beautiful place, come out to an Inside Trail event and see how we do. If you don’t want to support Inside Trail, for whatever reason, you have plenty of other options and should take advantage of them.

    -Tim S

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  143. Street Smart 101

    Rule # 1- don't pick fights with big Russians

    -Richard Middaugh

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  144. I think many of the people here need to step away from their computer and go out for a long run...

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  145. dear stephanie,
    i'd like to understand why the INS was mentioned to begin with. is it because michael has an accent? that is what i find troubling. the assumption that a person with an accent must be an illegal immigrant and be running from the INS. yes, i find this assumption to be discriminatory. i know plenty of people who have accents who have legal american citizenship.

    craig sutter

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  146. Alright people, it's the "morning after". I would like to ask that each person who posted do me a favor, but before that, I would like to point out a few things.

    First, the #1 traffic source for this post is Googlebot. What that means is the Google is all over this post like the Eye of Sauron, tracking every one of you and what you said, and putting it directly in the Google Index. Take my word for it, it's very hard to change things once it's in the Index. Have you ever typed your own name into Google? How would you like it if instead of your charity work being the top result, it's a blog post you made way back when in the heat of an argument mention abortion, xenophobia, pedophilia, scandal, your detailed knowledge of Alcoholics Anonymous, etc.? For years, every employer, future significant other, teacher of your kids, and everyone you meet...you'll have to explain this. I can't emphasize enough how permanent this is, for I see it regularly when (not) hiring in Silicon Valley.

    Second, I should warn you that I am a computer nerd with wicked Web measurement skills. You may think you are anonymous, but for about 70% of you that posted anonymously, I know exactly who you are. It's a very cool system. You can thank Charlie Engle and his entourage for me having to set that up.

    Third, there is nothing wrong with deleting your comments the morning after. We all say things in the heat of argument that we wished we had phrased better. I would suggest each of us take a good look at what we wrote and decide if this is the way we want to be remembered forever. It's not a sign of weakness to delete it. In fact, if you delete it and instead contact the person directly to provide your feedback, I would say that is the highest form of integrity once could expect from a blog conversation.

    Lastly, I am deleting a lot of comments and that is making this thread hard to follow completely. Michael Popov, for example, said things so slanderous and not a part of this conversation that I deleted it, but not before Tim had posted a response. Then his response looked outrageous without the context, and he deleted his own entry. It's confusing, for sure. But please assume the best of people before adding to the fire.

    I posted this story to the blog in hopes we could have a positive outlet to discuss what is clearly an emotional situation. I would love to hear from PCTR regulars (those owed refunds and not), trail runners in general, thoughts of the future of trail running in this area and what it might behold, and any facts/thoughts that can help provide clarity about what is happening. For the sake of the trail running community, let's try our best to keep it constructive.

    This story continues to get ~1,000 readers/hour. Take a look at what you said above with fresh eyes and ask yourself if this is truly your voice. This is how the world now sees you.

    And for those signing your name, thank you for adding to the dialogue. I knew I could count on you!

    - SD

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  147. A Rodeo Beach Runner12/28/2011 11:32:00 AM

    It would be great if each of the parties and/or persons involved with these events could set aside their differences for the general trail running populace. Particularly because that general populace will be in attendance for a "joint venture" this upcoming December 31st at the PCTR Rodeo Beach Trail Run (being operated by Inside Trail).

    On the surface only the indebted trail runner, who has had direct experiences with the parties involved, will be unsettled by the events cataloged in this blog. Most patrons on December 31st will not have a clue what's transpiring behind the scenes. Could the race directors, volunteers, and past employees please allow that to remain the case? Please, for those who want to spread the joy of trail running to others!? Like almost all those involved with this comment thread?

    Tim, Michael, Sarah, et al., your issues matter to me, as a trail runner, friend, and client or potential client. I hate to see all these issues paraded around in public. It hurts to read or be told about them from others. If Saturday could go off without a hitch (w/o someone calling the police for a willful volunteer showing up to support the runners) I think EVERYONE in attendance would believe the future is bright for trail running in the Bay Area.

    Spreading hate only begets hate. The best solution for all might be just to focus on pulling off a great event, and to get along with each other (whether the attendants a friendly or not). KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS (like the directors of PCTR used to do in the past) and you might turn a few disgruntled runners into true blue fans. You might even make a few real friends who will support you and your respective enterprises, whenever you fall on rough times.

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  148. From: Shir Kochavi

    xenophobia is an unreasonable fear of foreigners. tim l does not seem to be in fear and, to the extent he is, i don't get the sense its based on "foreign" considerations. i.e., you can take issue with tim's actions, but you'll have to find another word.

    (on a personal note, federal laws re immigration/immigrants are no more xenophobic than having borders or selectivity in conferring citizenship status. this was my opinion when I was an immigrant of questionable status and US citizenship has not changed it)

    Perhaps it's too late at this point but can we tone down the tone? And to the extent we cannot, can we just refrain from hurling buzzwords or creating bigger themes just for effect? Sometimes, when boys disagree, they get pumped with adrenaline, thump their chests, and maybe say something disparaging about each other's mothers/sisters, sexual orientation, or equipment size. Sometimes they'll bring up national origins or, gasp, accents. this doesn't make them all misogynistic, homophobic, micro-phallic, xenophobes. not saying it's nice or good or acceptable but noting it is, all-and-all, just normal guys blowing off some steam.

    I do sense a consensus around two TRAIL RUNNING-RELATED items:
    (i) recent events aside, folks are appreciative of what Sarah/PCTR has done for the sport.
    (ii) at this point, no one should register (i.e., pay) for post-Rodeo Beach PCTR races.

    Interested to know whether anyone dissents from these two items.

    Scott, I believe that's like 150 comments now. you're going to need a bigger server...

    Interested to know if anyone

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  149. i'd like to echo what "A Rodeo Beach Runner" said. i've followed this thread with interest, not because i personally know the people involved, but as a consumer of the product they've provided us for many years. as an avid bay area trail runner i want our sport to survive and thrive, and what i've seen posted here concerns me. i am also already registered for the Skyline to the Sea 50K this spring and am doubly concerned that (a) this race might not happen now and (b) i may be out the registration fees.

    but the bigger picture is we are not so different here, i believe we all want the same thing - to enjoy and share in the experience of running on these wonderful trails near where we live. to paraphrase Rodney King, can't we all just get along? think about it. as Scott eluded to, people have a tendency to say hurtful innuendo in an anonymous blog comment that they might never dare stand up in public and say.

    i won't be at Rodeo Beach this weekend as i'm volunteering at the Brazen Lake Chabot races, but i'm hoping that it goes off without a hitch. here's to brighter, better days for bay area trail running in 2012!

    ~ Pete Beck

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  150. The rhetoric directed at Tim needs to stop. Seriously. LAY-OFF!
    I hope nothing but good comes from this and that the negativity is buried, forgiven and forgotten.
    Let's all head out and enjoy some time on our favorite trails and partake in our common bond, Trail Running!
    Best wishes for an excellent racing year!!

    David T.

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  151. I deleted my last post because all I want to say is - let's just all get along and run,man! No one knows all the facts and lots of assumptions are being made. Also Tim responded because he's being backed into a corner and getting frustrated. He probably didn't really mean what he said which is why he removed it. Let's return to being one big happy trail running family :)

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  153. It's going to be a beautiful day at Rodeo Beach on Saturday, and by the time we're huffing & puffing our way up the first hill we'll all be reminded how lucky we are to run in the Bay Area. Thanks to everyone who is working to make the day possible, and here's to a gorgeous and peaceful day on the trails!

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  154. I'm just laughing and shaking my head at all these schzophrenic posts.

    Who really would want to keep sticking money into a vending machine that may not drop a snack? How many times would you do that before you give up? PCTR has so many problems, there is no sense in continuing it. So if you are doing to replace it, why not replace the races identically? Wouldn't that be best? Nobody in there right mind would pick up and take over an organization like PCTR with all the issues people have listed here. And PCTR has contracted the final event of the year with ITR - doesn't that tell you something? Jiminy Christmas!

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  155. Its almost worth going to 'the Rodeo' just to see the action ... or should I call it a '3 ring circus.'?

    Best of luck to all! How about them Broncos????

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  156. Scott -r.e your "Eye of Sauron" comment, I was on the Hobbiton set yesterday afternoon. It was simply stunning - words cannot describe the magic of that place (aah - the benefits of living in New Zealand). I hope some of you may cross the pacific and do some trail runs in our beautiful part of the world.

    Cheers, Paul
    sorry I did not add to the discussion - I am on a hobbit-high right now :-)

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  157. I certainly hope Pacific Coast Trail Runs survive until the end of time! My favorite running has been done on the PC!

    Scott, if you're ever interested in doing any product reviews for us, please let us know. (We carry CEP compression gear)
    Best wishes,
    Dave

    marking@sportscompression.com

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  158. Paul, I just read your post out loud to my son, who's a big LOTR fan. He's deeply envious.

    Chris O'Connor

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  159. Scott-- I have been wondering for weeks to months when you were going to cover this. What a Christmas....present, of sorts...for the NoCal / Pacific Coast trail running community.

    Delicately handled, but not too delicately. The post and commentary were fascinating. It was impossible to go through them without feeling frequent and varied emotional reactions. Thank all of you for your comments, even ones I disagreed with, and though I wish I could have read many of the self- and Scott-censored ones. I found several factoids quite interesting and/or surprising.

    My first trail ultra was with PCTR in Big Basin in August of 2003 upon moving out here after finishing my medical residency. I remember playing leap frog with Rick Gaston, who tried to clue me in (no blogs to read about hand-helds and trail running shoes). I was so clueless then. The memories.... but this is not the venue for me to recap my entire ultra/trail running history out here in the Bay Area.

    For the sake of full disclosure (which perhaps is far too often lacking in the blogging and commenting world, including by some of those commenting above), maybe I should mention that as a sponsored La Sportiva Mountain Running Team marketing ambassador, I have received comped entries to PCTR events for the past 2-3 years, though the majority of the races I choose haven't been put on by PCTR. I have not yet heard if ITR will be entering a similar relationship with Sportiva for comped entries, though the Sportiva logo is prominently featured on their website.

    Far removed from my Sportiva connection, I am very sad about what has happened with PCTR. I really hoped Sarah would regroup and fully revive her company. I would have refrained from making any predictions about whether and when that would happen, but since PCTR's schedule and courses appear to have been completely duplicated by ITR (I stand to be corrected--I've only checked two races), I am guessing we must conclude that this will not and cannot happen (?) By using the exact same schedule with the exact same courses, it seems ITR has made coexistence of PCTR and ITR impossible. The debate over the pros and cons of doing this has already started above.

    I hope Sarah will be okay. I, like many people, am worried about her. I wonder if there anything anyone really can do to help.

    This whole progression of events raises many questions, ethical, legal and otherwise, that maybe I will raise here in this discussion thread or elsewhere.

    Although time spent doing that would further cut into valuable and increasingly limited time to enjoy the trails. Part of why I can't keep up with my own blogging, much less do much blog reading.

    Thanks, again, Scott, great job as always. I wasn't planning on going up to Rodeo Beach due to my work schedule and self-imposed familial obligations, but considering it now. Perhaps for our community Rodeo Beach feels more Y2K-esque than 12/31/1999 ever did.

    Happy New Year, everyone!

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  160. Why can't people say what is really going on with Sarah, with the hope that she can get some help for her problem? She has been battling her "sickness" for a long time. "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." And, Brett, you are right. Why do people continue to pay for races that don't happen? Come on people, you have got to be smarter than that! Kelly Ridgway

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  162. Kelly & Brett - i assume that your similar comments around "paying for races that don't happen" were aimed at me. lol. i know, my bad. i signed up for SttS as soon as it opened, not aware of all the recent PCTR happenings. i should have known better but was being optimistic, hoping things would turn out for the best. looks like i might get bit this time. :)

    ~ Pete Beck

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  163. From Victoria Folks:

    I've been reading and thinking about this whole thing all day. What everyone's comments put me in mind of is the parable of the blind men and the elephants, where everyone has a different piece of the elephant and they're convinced they know what an elephant is because that's what they are holding on to. What I know in addition to what's been said (or slandered) here is that there is a lot that isn't my story to tell that are/were contributing factors in a lot of this. I also would guess there's tons I don't know either. Due to legal and personal boundaries, probably no one will ever know exactly what happened/is happening. And for me, that's fine, because a lot of it is none of my business. If there's something I feel I have to know because it impacts the choice of business I choose for my races, I plan on asking the person in question directly. In the age of email addresses, just about anyone running a business is available for questioning. (And if they're not, that's a factor in my decision-making as well.) If I make a decision not to patronize a company, that's my choice and not something I need to broadcast.

    What brought me to trail running (ok, other than the awesome trails and being outside for hours) was the community I met. I met my fiancé through trail running (specifically PCTR), some of my bestest friends in the whole wide world, and a lot of really fine human beings. I think many people know I broke my foot in the middle of SttS' inaugural race, and what made the biggest impression on me was the number of people who offered to WALK in to the next aid station with me, clearly caring more about the human being in front of them than a 50K PR. PCTR, or IT, or CTR are all just companies. Sure, the person owning the company makes a difference, but the person owning the company can't make people into a caring community. My point is that whether it's PCTR or IT or CTR, it's just a business. So in answer to your question, Scott, about what I think of the future of trail running in this area, I think it's going to be whatever the trail running community (not the individuals owning companies) make of it. If PCTR has had its day, well, then it can be happy for the impact it had on the trail running community of the Bay Area. While there are things I loved about PCTR, I have also run other races put on by other companies that provided what I was looking for in a race as well.

    Don't get me wrong-- I care a great deal for Sarah and her family, and I absolutely want the best for her, whether that's continuing with PCTR or not. I don't have anything invested in whether or not PCTR continues to exist, though. The trail runners I know aren't going anywhere, and if it works out that other companies offer options that appeal, well, then they're going to get business, and the trail running community in the Bay Area will evolve in new directions. I hate to get metaphysical in a blog comment, but change is the only constant in our world.

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  164. The course of events that lead us here is all very sad. Like many of you, I was near + dear to Sarah. And like many of you, I was quick to come to her defense when shit hit the fan. Thought things were back to normal after the initial set of setbacks but clearly they weren't. I've tried to reach out to get her side of the story. I've yet to hear a peep back. But it's hard to ignore the series of disappointing events that lead to Scott's post.

    I just hope we can keep things clean without resorting to below the belt comments or tactics. While many comments raised legit questions/concerns, others were just hateful for hate's sake. This is certainly NOT what drew me to the ultra/trail community. Tim's a good guy whose intentions were to make a modest living organizing races in CA. He may be guilty to partaking in some of the mud-slinging but like Jessica said, if you feel like your back's against the wall, your instincts are to fight back. I'm sure he regrets it and hope other guilty parties are too.

    I just hope we can heal, move on and refrain from contributing to the heaping pile of crap that's been put out there (thru no fault of Scott's original post).

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  165. So is the event on the 31st a PCTR event or an ITR event? I'm confused. If it doesn't happen or there are problems who do we contact?

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  166. From my understanding, the 31st is a PCTR event, which is being run by the Tims on PCTR's behalf. From TimL's post above it sounds like everything is coming together for it, but if by chance it were to fall apart we all know where to spout off on him about it :)

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  168. I certainly don't know all the details to this affair.

    I can say I have dealt with Tim Long on many occasions, and that he is a good egg.

    Tim - all the best with the ITR endeavor. If I ever make my way to the left coast and the timing works - I will line up at one of your events.

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  169. I am a trail newbie up in the Auburn/Cool area. I've done a few trail runs here and am looking to expand and run races in the bay area as well. I've read some race reports from people who ran PCTR races back in the "Good ol' days" as well as some recent reviews that weren't quite so glorious.

    After reading the contentiousness of this discussion, I feel that my limited discretionary dollars will best be served by going to brazen racing. I didn't really know anything about the PCTR/CTR/ITR split and frankly I don't care to know the logistics of it. As a consumer (and yes, that's what I am) I want to get the most bang for my buck and I want to be reasonably sure that the event I pay for will start. I have nothing against PCTR/CTR/ITR but until I have a reasonable reason to believe that this mess won't result in a canceled race or that my dollars aren't going to pay for litigation, I'll stick with brazen.

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  170. PS as an addendum, If I hear/read online that PCTR/CTR/ITR are putting on great races, I have no hesitation whatsoever in registering/participating in those races. Indeed, I look forward to it. As it stands right now though, PCTR and it's offshoots don't yet bestow confidence for the consumer. I hope that someday I will be able to race with these other organizations as well.

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  171. From runners I've talked to, CTR (Coastal Trail Runs) has been putting on very professional events. I think people may be confusing them with PCTR.

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  174. @Karen

    CTR has been around for over 2 years now. I have run many of their races, and it is nothing but professional. I have never had a problem with CTR nor have I heard of any issues from others. I would not lump them in with the PCTR/ITR issue that has been discussed above.

    Feel free to check my blog for various CTR race reports here, Here is an example.

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  175. I would also not lump ITR in with the PCTR issues that have been discussed above.

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  176. For those seeking PCTR refunds, this was just posted on the PCTR Facebook Page this morning from Heather Landis, an Associate at Valle Makoff, the law firm representing PCTR:

    You may have read that the Valle Makoff law firm in San Francisco is working on behalf of PCTR to help resolve 2011 operational issues and assist the company to move forward to a brighter 2012. PCTR has now established an e-mail address specifically for 2011 event refund claims. If you believe you are owed a refund, please send one email to PCTRrefunds@gmail.com. The email should identify the cancelled event, your name as registered and the fee you paid. Thank you for your patience! (PS I am an associate with the Valle Makoff law firm. You will be hearing more from me, or from my colleague, Mario Nicholas, shortly.).

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  177. If you count PCTR and ITR, there are seven (!) different trail race organizations serving the Bay Area/NorCal. I listed them all on my blog here.

    It's sometimes easy to forget how lucky we really are to be living and running here.

    Happy trails!

    -Dave

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  178. More does not necessarily = better.

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  179. I think ITR has a big day tomorrow to make a big first impression. I hope all goes well and everyone can move forward to a happy 2012. I think the trail runners in California are so lucky (even spoiled) to the point that you can get into heated exchanges over all these issues. I just wish we had more than 3 trail runs a year in my area... or, after reading all this, maybe I don't. I know there will be about 3 people on my 36 mile trail system tomorrow. Good luck to all tomorrow in Rodeo Beach! :-)

    Andy

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  180. I want to thank Scott for the initial post and from someone who does not use Facebook, thank you VERY much for the information regarding refunds.

    I was registered for the SF One Day and was very concerned when it had to be canceled at the last minute. Sure I was bummed that I wouldn't be doing the event and I thought of the people who had traveled from outside of the area for it. But most of all I was worried about whomever it was that was having the medical emergency. I didn't worry much at all about a refund. Having a long history with PCTR as a runner and volunteer I just figured it was a matter of time. After a couple of months went by I began to wonder what was up. It led me to pass on an invitation from a friend to do the Woodside event.

    I do hope that PCTR can turn things around and I wish the best for Sarah.

    Troy Windsor

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  181. Nobody - at least I hope nobody - wishes anything bad for anyone ... but, this is a business ... when I order pancakes at IHOP, well, I want my pancakes ... not a refund nor a coupon ... I just wanted my pancakes as advertised and as displayed on the menu.

    I don't care about the corporate compensation package, the office romances etc ... I just want my pancakes.

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  182. Shoulda ordered the waffles,much better.

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  183. Dear Scott,

    thank you so much for posting this, sorry I'm late to the show. PCTR literally changed my life, and many others. I did my first PCTR ultra shortly after moving to California in 2003, and am tremendously happy for every half-day spent in the company of Wendell, Sarah, Michael, and all of you on the trails. Those of you who lament the invention of organized, high-schedule-density trail runs must be blind to the amazing community these runs have created, and those who complain about their peace-alone-with-nature being taken away certainly haven't studied a park's balance sheet. The biggest benefit to us all, as a community of humans, is that a lot more people now enjoy the trails than 10 years ago, and are healthier and happier as a result. It may well be that in this particular context, greed is what it takes; if you have a better idea that'll get people out there to surf the outernet, please let us all know.

    I was at that same Lake Merritt run Mark Gilligan refers to, and it was clear things haven't been normal ever since. I worry about Sarah, and wish her the best. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.

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  184. Come on people, we can get to 200 post! Work harder!

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  185. OK I'll add something less evenhanded, hope it doesn't get me into much hot water, and if it does, it's winter time.

    PCTR had an extremely solid business model and a unique position as the pioneer and trendsetter in the strongest market in North America, and perhaps the world. Mostly because of Bay Area's demographics and weather, race organizers here can take many things for granted, and reap turnouts that folks in the same line of business/leisure in other areas, working no less hard, can only hope to generate. To witness what's happening—in the absence of market saturation, since the runs were still selling out—must mean things went not just wrong, but awfully wrong.

    It's also because of these factors that it shouldn't take too long for the void (if such appears) to fill up. Brazen certainly seems to be doing well picking parks so far unused. And those who are looking for new trails should be able to come up with a list of not-too-far parks ripe for yet another run, or perhaps a race, in a scenic place.

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  186. Written by Brandon Mulnix
    PCTR will always be my first kiss to trail running. Montana De Oro 50K was my first ever trail race over a half marathon and I loved every minute of it. It simply took my breath away. I met Sarah and was amazed at how she was able to pack so many people into such a small park. She helped make that first expereince memorable. As a future hundred mile runner the time at this 50K was the best education I could ever imagine. I am from Michigan and appreciated the volume of races that California has to offer.
    If any of the companies need new area that wants more races, please join us in Michigan. We are lacking for a trail running management force on the West Side of the "only" Mitten state.

    Thank you Scott for bringing to light the "Back Stage" drama that only those who have experienced the "Back Stage" could understand. For those runners who like to run the races and not worry, Just skip to the next post and pretend you never read this.

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  187. I'm happy to report that the Rodeo Beach 8k/20k/30k/50k did occur on a beautiful day in the Headlands this morning, with Inside Trail Racing doing a marvelous job managing the event. No sign of any PCTR folks.

    And for what it's worth, 98% of the attendees had no idea about the drama, and enjoyed a wonderful day on the trails.

    More to come...

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  188. so wonderful to hear the RB event went well. i didn't get into WTC this year, so i've been trying to find another 50K Spring event...i'm beginning to feel like options are available! I'm ready to enter ITR event!

    i'll be ringing in the New Year trying my best for a spot @ TRT 50K 12:01am :-)

    patty shijo :-)

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  189. Scott, Thanks for the post and great to meet you and the Tims at the race this morning. As a regular trail runner I'm glad it went well for all of us. Hopefully things will work out and we will all get to keep running.

    As an aside on organizing races, having looked into this, I've found it very hard to find suitable parks and routes, so that might explain some of the overlap that has been described in other posts.

    Andy Belk, Portola Valley

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  190. Scott,

    Please pass along, Robert and Linda Mathis - Ultrarunner.net were killed in a pedestrian/vehicle accident Dec. 30th. This is Linda's brother Todd, I wanted to pass this along. We lost 2 great people last night. RIP ROBERT & LINDA!!!

    Todd Plumer

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  191. I ran rodeo beach today, and it was put together quite well by inside trail running. The only real difference from last year was the shirt design. However, when I looked at the pctr and itr's site, I noticed that the two were holding the same races at the same places on the same days, except under different names. For example, on jan. 22nd, itr is holding the Brooks Falls Trail Run in Pacifica, while pctr is holding the pacifica trail run on the same day. Does anyone know why they are the same? and RIP Robert and Linda.

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  192. Scott,

    Thanks for being out there today! What a dumbass, I didn't even realize that it was you!!! You're a blogo celebrity!

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to be out there today, and also for keeping us posted on a series that has meant so much to so many of us.

    Happy trails.

    Claire

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  193. I was also introduced to ultra running through PCTR and their most challenging run I ever attempted was the Diablo 50Miler. So since I live 15 minutes away from MT Diablo today I decided to go run up Mt Diablo. I didn't quite run 50 miles today, but I did follow the same start up the hill and than ran back the same route. It was awesome. Thanks PCTR!! Good luck.

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  194. Todd,

    That is sad news. My thoughts are with you and your family in this difficult time. RIP Robert and Linda.

    Dennis Mui

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  195. Todd -

    I am so sorry to hear this. Can you e-mail me at scottdunlap [at] yahoo.com?

    Our thoughts are with you and your family. They will be missed by many.

    SD

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  196. ... very sad news. My wife and I enjoyed many of their great events over the years as well as their good humor and friendship.

    Scott Weber

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  197. Confirmed - check out the comments from Robert's brother, Mark, on this story. Sounds like they were struck by an intoxicated driver while crossing a crosswalk in their home town of Incline Village.

    Such sad news.

    SD

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  198. Scott, It took me 2 hours to read all of the posts above, with a couple breaks to cook lunch and watch some football. On 12/28 you asked for comments for the ultra/trail running community so here are mine. I don't intend this to be a response to the other posts above, although I will touch on some of the themes already discussed:
    1. I think there are 2 things to consider here - one our friendship with the various race directors and the other is our opinions of each of the series. My opinion can be based on whatever I want and I shall not make any of those public. I will make public my opinions of the racing companies/series. I base those opinions strictly on facts and actual events - not gossip or suggested truths.
    2. I think most of the negative events that have transpired have been due to 1 major failure in PCTR's business management. The obvious failure is lack of a disaster contingency plan. Any company, especially one that constantly deals with the public, needs to have a plan in place to continue fundamental operations in the event of a major catastrophe. When Sarah's medical issue came about, there was no plan to continue to already scheduled events, notify the public (especially already-paid customers), and discontinue registration for future events that clearly would not happen.
    3. A 2nd (possible) failure was failure to ensure their business model cannot be used in a competitive way by ex-employees. This can be accomplished by having all employees upon hire sign a "Do Not Compete" document. This should also include using any proprietary information, such as course maps, measurements, etc. I am withholding judgment on where or not the (possible) 2nd failure is valid. There is a lot of unfair criticism (and worse) of the Tims above. At this point it is not fair because it's Sarah's place to make that charge, not any of ours. If Sarah makes that charge (of Tims’ poaching), then we can weigh in on it but until (unless) that happens I think judgment is best off withheld.

    Jason Reed

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  199. Also:

    4. My intentions for 2012 and beyond (partly based on events, partly on preference):
    *PCTR - I've done 49 of their events. I haven't run any in the past 6+ months due to my schedule so I was not affected by this year's problems. I would strongly recommend against preregistering for any event until it's clear they have gotten back on their feet. I would consider entering an event same day though. I would show up prepared to run on my own in case the event falls through.
    *CTR - I've run 5 of their events, including one yesterday. I won't hesitate to do so again. The organization and attention to detail that Wendell brings is what every race director strives to attain.
    *ITR - I've met Tim Long once several weeks ago, before many of the recent events transpired. I have not met Tim S. I have no experience with them or ITR and will treat it as a new company. I will probably wait until a couple events happen and see how they go before entering an ITR event.
    *Envirosports - I've run 6 of these events. Not a big fan, but I run them from time to time on courses I really like.
    *NorCalUltras - I've run 7+ of their events, all of which were part of the PA Ultra Series. Well organized and my biggest complaint is lack of course variety since many courses are in the American River region. My deprioritizing the PA Ultra series will lead me to reduce the number of NorCalUltras I participate in.
    *Ultrarunner.net - I've run 3 of these. They are off the beaten path (at least from this bay Area perspective) so there are fewer "recreational" runners there. I was saddened by the news of the deaths of Robert and Linda Mathis. If this series continues (which I'm not expecting) I would be happy to participate as a racer as well lend a hand on race day with anything before or after I've run.
    *Brazen - I've run 7 of these (4 of which were on the same day). They hold races in parks that are rarely, used for other races which is good because I like the variety. I'd prefer if it were a little more competitive but I will probably increase the number of these I do because of the course/park variety.

    Jason Reed

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  200. Glad to hear yesterday's event ran smoothly. Here's hoping the best for both parties. Now lets go run!

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