A Cautionary Tale: Warning Against the Reinke Sports Group

I learned a lesson this past week. Even though I don’t consider myself to be a newbie runner I still have plenty to learn. I wanted to share what I learned so that others don’t have to learn it the same way I did.

My experience with USRA and the Reinke Sports Group started last year when I first started looking for potential new races for my half marathon goal.

Lesson #1: Do not get sucked into a pretty website.
Screen Shot 2012-03-25 at 7.34.14 PM
(I’m not linking because I don’t want to give Mr. Reinke any more traffic.)

After my dad registered me for this race as a Christmas gift I didn’t think any more of it until the time came to book the hotel. When I went to the website I discovered that the date had been changed from March 2 to March 24. Looking back that should have been clue number one.

I contacted Mr. Reinke through email and twitter to confirm. I received enough of a confirmation to be satisfied of the date. Again, hindsight is 20/20.

Several weeks passed and the date of the race approached. Late last Tuesday night I opened up a Dailymile notification which held some surprising information. One of my Dailymile friends, also running the race, asked if I had heard that the race was cancelled.

Talk about a sucker punch.

The next morning a quick google search revealed troubling information such as a thread in the Runner’s World forum dedicated to discussing Reinke Sports Group’s misdeeds.

This was all I needed to confirm that the race was not taking place.

I did get further information when my Dailymile friend copied and pasted the letter she received.
Screen Shot 2012-03-25 at 7.41.50 PM
The wording in this letter matched nearly word for word another one posted in a tumblr dedicated to cataloging complaints against the Reinke Sports Group.

(I received nothing from them. My phone call was not returned. My tweet was not responded to until 10pm Friday night.)

Come Saturday morning I made lemonade out of lemons and headed out for my own half marathon.

While I was out on the run my dad spoke to a local woman who had seen a story on WSPA about the half marathon being cancelled. WSPA found out only the day before despite being one of the sponsors.

After I got back home I put together my recap and posted it. I knew I was taking a risk when I posted it on USRA’s Facebook page. (I admit. I probably shouldn’t have used the word “skeevy” on his own page.)

10 minutes later Mr. Reinke himself commented on the post.
Screen Shot 2012-03-24 at 3.15.19 PM
I deleted the comment and chose not to respond. He was hanging himself with his unprofessionalism.

20 minutes after that not only was my post deleted but also a comment from another would be runner asking for a refund. She commented on my post Sunday and told me that Mr. Reinke was no longer returning her calls or emails.

Today I searched further online and found several other examples of Mr. Reinke’s misdeeds.
http://forum.halfmarathons.net/index.php?topic=112.0
http://rturner229.blogspot.com/2011/02/another-lawsuit-filed-against-reinke.html?m=1
http://m.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111003/A_SPORTS/110030305&template=wapart
http://www.worcestermag.com/city-desk/top-news/95576159.html?m=y&smobile=y
http://flaglerlive.com/25495/reinke-sports-group-marathon

Tonight my father received the following reply to his request for a refund:
Screen Shot 2012-03-25 at 7.55.15 PM
I think the above evidence proves that this is not the first time. Also, note the spelling error.

At the end of the day I’m thankful for the experience warts and all. I’m glad that I got to experience everything with this race so that I could write this post and hopefully help other runners avoid a similar experience.

Before I close this entry I want to give a shout out to some local race directors. The following men and organizations do everything they can to put on amazing races. On top of that if people point out problems in their races these men are eager to fix the problems and improve the overall experience.
Thank you:
Scott Bagwell with go-green events
John Lehman with strictly running
Greenville Track Club

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35 Comments

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35 responses to “A Cautionary Tale: Warning Against the Reinke Sports Group

  1. drachtungbaby

    Thanks for posting this. This race was one I considered and now I know to avoid their half marathon here in Columbia like the plague. Glad you were able to run your own and get the word out about how you were treated.

    Alex
    http://drachtungbaby.wordpress.com/

  2. Great post! I am glad you shared this and gave us a little more insight as to the details behind what happened with Reinke. For as poor as they are at communicating, they sure do like to send promotional emails every 5 minutes! I will share this post and hopefully spread the word about how badly they treated everyone who registered for this event!

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  5. Hi,

    We have recently read your story and although we do not have a race to offer in SC we do have one in Charlotte, NC this summer! The Amica Race Series includes a 1/2 marathon and 10k in Charlotte in August. http://www.amicaraceseries.com/charlotte/

    If you are interested we would like to offer you a free entry to this event!
    Please let us know if this interests you.
    Sincerely,
    Matt Gray
    Vice President
    Eident Sports Marketing
    matt.gray@eidentsports.com

  6. i saw this from the wspa video clip online. there was a horrible situation involving a dean reinke race in west lafayette, IN in october 2010. i was able to argue w/ my credit card company for a refund (from them, not him) but it was a huge nightmare. thanks for spreading the word!

    • You are very welcome!

      Sent from my iPad

    • I also was able to get my credit card company to cancel the payment for the West Lafayette race after several back-and-forth emails with that … person. I will never sign up for a Reinke race again.

      BTW, Sarah, it was recently announced that there will actually be a half at Purdue in October. It will be put on by the same organization that does the Indy Mini so it should be pretty good.

  7. Dean Reinke is a flat out crook. We did some advertising for him and his race series and once it came time to pay for said advertising he would not respond to emails or phone calls.

  8. This just happened to me with Dean Reinke with a race here in the Bay Area and I just posted today about avoiding Reinke Sports Group. His reputation is horrible and I am shocked that he continues to get away with this! HOW CAN HE BE STOPPED???

  9. Sorry about your experience. The city of Lexington, KY are not fans either. The first year (2010) they had about 2500 runners – this year I don’t think they even had 100 runners. In 2010, he called it the Lexington 1/2 marathon but was 35 miles away in another town. The city of Lexington wouldn’t give him any permits. In 2012 he renamed it to the Kentucky 1/2 marathon.

    The good thing that came out this bad Reinke experience is that Lexington now has a high quality, locally run Spring 1/2 marathon – http://www.runthebluegrass.org/

    Have you seen this? http://reinkereviews.tumblr.com/

  10. Kristal

    The Maine Track Club is currently trying to get the word out that Dean Reinke, LLC is promoting a Half Marathon in August in Freeport, ME. His permit was DENIED and there is NO RACE!
    Thanks for sharing your experience so that others don’t fall into the trap!

    • I’m so glad that the word continues to get out!

      Sent from my iPhone

    • fred

      kristal,

      reinke has approached a couple of local timing companies to time this freeport race on aug 12th. we’ve asked him if it’s still going to happen and he keeps saying yes. i wouldn’t be surprised if he’s lying and is just moving the race one town over and still calling it the freeport half.

      thanks,

      fred

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  12. Andrea Ward

    I wish I would have known this information before signing up for the Columbia Half. I got a bad vibe Friday at packet pickup and then researched. I still ran the race but was displeased with the inconsistencies presented on the website and what actually was offered. I will never do another race by USRA Racing Series.

    • I would love to hear more about what happened. I was intrigued and contemplated going down there just to see…

      • Andrea Ward

        I’ve never had an issue with a race but from the moment I picked up my packet I felt that something was shady. We are new to the Columbia area so I don’t really know much about the local races. I guess I need to research better.

        Anyway here is my experience. On the website it mentioned an expo. I’ve done big marathons so I wasn’t expecting that kind of expo but maybe a small one. When I typed in the address to a Holiday Inn in West Cola I knew something was off. I walked in to find Dean Reinke giving out the numbers and some people promoting Shen Yun. That’s it! He commented on my race shirt from a Jacksonville, FL half on Thanksgiving. He tried to sell me on some other of his races when he found out my husband was from Albuquerque (he has one starting there next year). My packet had one pen, and I was given a shirt which under the FAQs stated that half marathoners would get technical ones. I didn’t and asked on the USRA Race Series Facebook about it. He responded that I needed to refer to the website. Whatever…

        I came home and started researching this guy and his group and found nothing but negative comments, blogs, and articles. I felt really unsure about running a poorly organized half in a city I wasn’t too familiar with but I am training for a marathon and thought I’d at least get to run with other runners for a training run. The course was nice and it was nice to run with other runners but the water stops had jugs of water and orange drink and they were self served. I brought my own Camelbak after reading that some of his races were lacking aid stations or ran out of water.

        I think $65 is way too much for what he was giving to runners. Disorganization, crappy shirts, cheap metals with stickers placed on for the different locations, no timing chip, results have yet to be posted, and just a general sleaziness factor will keep me away from his races. I’m going to keep spreading the word about these races. I can’t believe this was the 5th annual Columbia one.

      • drachtungbaby

        Andrea,

        I’m president of the Columbia running club , and we have banned his races from our race series (Tour de Columbia) based on reinke’s reputation. I’ve never met the guy but the internet is loaded with horrible stories about his races. Each runner has their own wants/needs but the thing I’m most amazed about this year at the Columbia half is no chip timing. Unbelievable. Take a look at colarunclub.com for quality races in the Columbia area. A good half in the spring has been the Palmetto half marathon in April.

        Alex

      • Andrea Ward

        Thank you! I’ll check it out!

  13. Autumn Rietzke

    I’m sad I got ripped off by this man before I read this 😦 He’s a dirty crook! I’ll be making sure I tell everyone I know to NEVER run any USRA race!

    • I’m sorry that happened to you. 😦
      Do you mind sharing your story?

      • Autumn Rietzke

        I planned to run the Lake Erie Half and when my friend tried to sign up she noticed the date had changed. I hadn’t rec’d any notification about the date change (I had already signed up about a month earlier) and so I contacted him and he said he changed the date due to a conflict. I was already committed to another race on the new date and he refused to issue a refund stating I could run a race elsewhere in the future. That’s when I looked up reviews on this guy and found all this crap about him. I then called the golf course he was supposed to start the race at on the new date and they hadn’t heard anything from him about a race this year so I had serious dates that the race would be held at all. Low and behold…the week of the race he sent out emails cancelling due to unforeseen circumstance and no refunds would be given. I had sent him several (immature I know!) nasty comments on FB, emails and text messages so I never did receive an email notifying me that the race had been cancelled but another local runner shared her email on FB. He’s a jerk….plain and simple. He needs to be put in jail for fraud. I don’t know how nowhere can get charges pressed on him. It’s all just a scam and he knows it! He makes my blood boil every time I think about it!

  14. Will

    I ran the Columbia, SC half in 2013. As a previous poster said, there were no tech shirts and the expo was lame. But I really loved the course and I signed up for the 2014 race. I am JUST NOW finding out about the shady practices. Is there any way to find out if the 2014 race has all the needed permits? I now know several of his other races this year just didn’t happen.

    • Jeni @ stepping out

      I really have no idea. I would check first with John Lehman of strictlyrunning as they have worked together in the past on the Columbia race. He might also be able to direct you further if he does not know.

      • Will

        It is 29 days before the 2014 race. I contacted the Columbia business license department and they report that USRA has submitted NO paperwork for the 2014 race and it will not be taking place. Dean from USRA emailed me earlier today to say that packet pickup is December 12th, location TBD. So he is still acting like there will be a race, and is taking money from people, knowing full well that he has submitted no paperwork. I emailed him requesting a refund.

      • Jeni @ stepping out

        I am so sorry Will.
        Unfortunately, I know for a fact that he will not give you the money back. You’re better off filing a dispute with your debit/credit card company.

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