Thousands of runners here in the valley signed up for a 5k neon run. The night run promised to leave participants covered in neon from head to toe. But dozens of runners now want their money back, saying they were cheated.
The website promised a 5K run "that will blow your mind." But those who ran in the race tell us this race was nothing like it was advertised.
Groupon is giving some people their money back even though they didn't organize this race.
Each runner paid anywhere from $20 to $60. It was advertised as a massive neon festival.
"I get there and there wasn't anything that they promised," says dissatisfied runner Stacey Parker.
Stacey Parker describes it as more of a dark, dangerous race -- with no water except warm coconut water and potholes on the track. Neon spray stations barely left a few drops of neon on their clothes and there was no free beer at the end either.
"People left, their shirts were completely white."
The race happened at Firebird Raceway on Saturday night. Firebird says they have nothing to do with the event.
"I do want my money back. I did run it, I had fun with my friends but everything that they promised didn't live up to what they gave us at the end," says Parker.
Dozens of people feel the same way and they have flooded Neon Run's Facebook page with complaints.
"Towards the end they were telling us, break open your glow sticks so you can put them on yourselves. So they had the after pictures that looked like we went through neon."
Other runners say it was overcrowded, disorganized, and the route itself was sort of dangerous.
"I tripped over a cone cause they were laying over... almost fell. There were potholes, gravel you had to run in," says Deena Caldwell.
Runner Shawn Pahl says "everything was just kind of slapped together."
Neon Run posted an apology saying: "This was our first event and we will be working extremely hard to fix everything for the following events. We are very sorry that we did not live up to your expectations."
Neon Run says they're based out of town, but we don't know where. We don't know who the organizers are either. More races are scheduled for cities like San Diego and San Francisco.
On their website, Neon Run claims to give part of the money raised to charity. In this run, they said it was going to be the Ronald McDonald House.
We called the Ronald McDonald House. They told us the Neon Run contacted them back in January, then never followed up or called back again until today.
Now Neon Run is offering to donate $2,500 to the race. The Ronald McDonald House says they'll accept the donation.
After tons of backlash on Facebook, an organizer finally decided to talk to us on the phone but did not want to reveal his name.
"We learned a lot unfortunately, unfortunately we made some people angry in the process... We are deeply sorry for what has happened, whether it was the venue's fault, or other parties involved," he said.
We were told organizers are working on giving refunds -- but the damage may already be done. On social media, people are warning others not to participate in upcoming races.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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