Hmm… is ‘The Neon Run’ a scam?

Every time I’m on FB it seems like there’s a brand new ad for a (brand new) fun run that looks a lot like all the other (brand new) fun runs. With seemingly no barriers to entry in the booming mob-and-mud run industries, you don’t necessarily need a business plan these days. Hell, you don’t even need a product.

You can simply:

  • COPY photos, videos and web content from your (soon-to-be) competitor
  • PASTE swiped content on your brand new website/FB page
  • RENAME the series (cribbing around 50% of your competitor’s name)
  • ANNOUNCE your first event!
  • PROMOTE with targeted FB ads
  • USE (advance) ticket $ales to create whatever you promised
  • HOPE you can pull it off

Some might argue that a similar plan worked out well for Tough Mudder.


What happens when you can’t pull it off?

What happens when you over-promise and under-deliver?

What happens when you fail on every possible level and your race is an unmitigated disaster?

Ask the organizers of The Neon Run. They’re finding out the hard way.

This past weekend, The Neon Run hosted their inaugural event at the Firebird Speedway in Phoenix, AZ. I wasn’t there, but I know what happened. Thanks to the magic of 2013, the backlash struck in real time as seemingly all 4500+ “neon” runners simultaneously stormed social media.

There was this…





And hundreds like them.

The word ‘scam’ was interwoven into countless complaints, leading to a (partial) mea culpa from the organizers.

It also led to this news segment on the local Fox News affiliate.

I’d love to write more about this, to give a voice to the thousands of bummed out Neon Runners, to explore the possible side effects this could have on the fun run industry as a whole.  And I’d love to tell you how the (anonymous) race organizer explained this fiasco to me when I tracked him down and asked WTF happened.

But before I do that, I’d like to find a good home for this story.






Nailed it! This should be a feature story.


can’t wait to read it!


Yes please, someone give Scott the chance to write a story on this… I had friends texted me it was a scam the night of the race. These guys and everyone like them need to be held accountable for tainting a great industry.

Racing Dave

Mr. Keneally has shown that he is currently the only journalist who is willing to literally “peel the onion” on the obstacle (mob) racing business with his article about the origins of Tough Mudder in Outside Magazine (Nov 2012). He is the “consumers” balance of power right now against copycat event producers who lack the experience to deliver a quality experience. Good luck and I hope your story gets picked up.

Scott Keneally

Steve, Nik and Keith… thanks so much for reaching out to comment. I hope it does find a home.

Racing Dave: you’re check is in the mail! Ha. But seriously, I really appreciate you saying that. I think this is the conversation that needs to happen. At the moment, there’s no consumer advocacy group for this industry… there’s nothing to keep all of us from getting ripped off. Ultimately, I feel the industry NEEDS a barrier to entry to save itself. Be that a BBB or a certain watchdog writer. 🙂

While I do hope this story does gets picked up, of course – and believe me, the Neon Run is only the tip of the iceberg – I’d be just as happy with this post serving as an “open source story idea” that another mainstream journalist ran with. Whatever it takes to create movement and momentum toward at least a modicum of oversight and regulation in this industry.


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Scott, any news on a story? I see they’re attempting another run soon.

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