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ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – With more than 300 days of sunshine, high altitude and endless trails, Albuquerque is quickly becoming a magnet for foot races and for the running community. But runners are taking issue with a series of half-marathon races that they said are blatantly taking advantage of participants and charities.
Dean Reinke, president of Florida-based Reinke Sports Group, and his for-profit company USRA Half-Marathon Series holds races throughout the country. Reinke was advertising the second annual Greater Albuquerque Half Marathon, which was scheduled to take place on July 13. But the race was mysteriously postponed just two days before the race.
“I was really shocked,” said runner Lisa Lockwood. “I’ve done about 25 races and I’ve never had someone cancel a race on me before.”
Lockwood was flying to Albuquerque from Baltimore, MD. She took two days off work, spent hundreds on airfare and paid $65 for the race registration, only to receive an email from Reinke while she was about to board her flight that the Albuquerque race was postponed “due to circumstances beyond our control.”
Lockwood said Reinke would not refund the registration fee, and instead, offered to transfer funds to another one of USRA’s races. But runners said the probability of Reinke’s races happening as planned are slim to none.
A quick online search of Dean Reinke and USRA turns up a slew of sites that claim shady business tactics. One article dubbed him “the shadiest man in the racing biz” for scheduling races, collecting registration fees, then canceling events without offering refunds. The Better Business Bureau gave Reinke’s company an “F.”
In the case of last month’s Albuquerque half-marathon, Reinke advertised the city of Albuquerque was a sponsor and that proceeds from the race would benefit the local Habitat for Humanity charity. KRQE News 13 confirmed that neither is true.
A spokeswoman for the Habitat for Humanity sent Reinke a cease and desist letter to stop using the group’s name and logo, saying it never agreed to partner with his company.
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano said Reinke never completed the permitting process to hold the event.
“When we have in some ways rogue opportunists that want to come in and not follow the rules, it’s disheartening for both the people that want to do it right and for the city,” Montano said.
Not all of Reinke’s races are canceled, however, even those events are not controversy-free.
For example, the Habitat for Humanity provided volunteers for USRA’s Albuquerque half-marathon last year in exchange for a portion of race proceeds. But a spokeswoman said Reinke didn’t pay up until this June after countless calls and emails. The final amount paid to Habitat for Humanity was $75, according to a spokeswoman.
And Las Cruces city officials are still waiting for Reinke to pay them for police patrols for a half-marathon held there last December.
Runners who participated in both New Mexico races last year said they were unorganized and shoddy.
“It was just small, not well supported, not enough water, just a very odd feel to it,” said runner Kellie Nickerson.
According to the USRA website, Reinke has a half-marathon scheduled for Dec. 7, 2014 in Las Cruces, benefitting the Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity. KRQE News 13 confirmed with city officials and the charity that neither entered into an agreement with him. The Habitat for Humanity has, once again, asked Reinke to remove the group’s affiliation from his website, a spokeswoman said.
Ed Carnathan, sports manager at the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, said the city is looking to hold another race that same day to replace Reinke’s event.
Our multiple emails, voicemails and Facebook message to Reinke were not returned.
Local runners said they’re spreading the word to keep Reinke’s races out of Albuquerque.
“People are out there running for their health and often to support charities, so then just to take advantage of them is really cruel,” Nickerson said.
Breanna Anderson, spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, told KRQE News 13 on Wednesday afternoon that Albuquerque police referred the Reinke case to the District Attorney’s Office for review. However, APD could not provide News 13 any police reports, and the DA’s office could not confirm whether it received the file.
A spokeswoman for the DA’s Office said, in general, once it receives files from law enforcement, prosecutors will determine whether there is enough probable cause to present a case to a grand jury for charges.
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