The Mumbai Police have filed a case of cheating against the organisers of a marathon after participants, who had signed up for the run on December 9 and paid the registration fee, complained that the organisers did not show up, forcing them to go home.
“A group of 15 runners approached us complaining that the organisers had taken money from them but not made any preparations to organise the run. The participants said they had lost Rs 8,250. A case of cheating has been filed against the organisers,” said senior inspector Kalpana Gadekar of Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) police station.
Runners from all over Mumbai and beyond had signed up for the run earlier this month after running forums advertised the ‘Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Tribute Run’ on December 9 organised by Mumbai-based events company NE Entertainment. The online registration page promoted it as a virtual race, requiring participants to download an app, run wherever they liked and upload their finish times on the app. Medals would be sent to the participants upon successfully posting their times, the registration page promised.
However, what confused participants who signed up for the run, ranging between 1 km and 10 km and across age groups, was the mention of BKC as the venue for assembly. “When we reached BKC, there was no counter, no volunteers handing out shirts and bibs and nothing to show a race was to be held there,” said Prakash Mandavkar (46).
The advertising executive had made an early morning trek from Dombivali just so that his 16-year-old son could complete a 5-km run, having paid a registration fee of Rs 550.
He did, however, sense that something was not right when he received an email from the organisers two days before, saying his son could run wherever he liked. “A lot of people we met at BKC on Sunday said they had received the message just the night before the run. Many didn’t even check their email,” he said.
Malad-based lawyer Sunita Kabade was among those who was informed about the run-anywhere clause on December 8. “It was the first-ever run that I signed up for and this experience has really discouraged me,” said the 28-year-old.
Mandavkar said his son was looking forward to the run dedicated to the former President and decorated scientist and did not mind having to leave home at 3 am. “There were others who came from as far as Dahanu and Boisar and had to go back. What is disappointing is, the organisers used Dr Kalam’s name to advertise the race,” he said.
While NE Entertainment could not be reached for comments, city-based lawyer Ron Roy, who too had signed up for the run, was among those who got a refund after speaking to NE Entertainment. “The organisers explained to me that it was to be a virtual run and that someone in his team made a mistake by mentioning BKC as the venue. That resulted in a lot of confusion,” he said. Roy, who has participated in runs organised by NE Entertainment before, said the concept of virtual runs is yet to pick up.