Runners want money back for canceled races
PORTLAND, Ore. — Hundreds of runners were left empty-handed after a Portland race organizer unexpectedly canceled a series of events.
Race participants said they’re frustrated that they can’t their money back and can’t get answers about the events that were supposed to take place in the Portland area this spring and summer.
"We're out $250 and an experience that we were really looking forward to,” said Amy Mast-Morris, who’d signed up with a team of runners for the Twelve Bridges Relay, originally scheduled for June 24.
Double Dog Dare U events had successfully organized races in the Portland area for several years. In March, company owner Pattric Langley emailed race participants to announce five events would be canceled. Langley provided no explanation but promised that race participants would be refunded within 90 days.
“The 90 days has come and gone. There’s been no check, no communication," said runner Noelle Gross, who signed up for the relay with Mast-Morris. “All of a sudden their Facebook page was down and there was no email.”
The company website explained, “We regret to announce that increased event costs and expenses combined with low registration numbers have made it necessary for Double Dog Dare U Events, LLC to cancel our 2017 events.”
Court records, emails and interviews with people who worked with the company owner, Pattric Langley, suggest there’s more the story. Langley faced mounting debts, a drug arrest and admitted to mismanaging company funds.
The Twelve Bridges Relay, a 65-mile event that runs through rural Washington County, had become an annual kick-off to summer for team “2 Legit 2 Quit.”
“We've done it the last three years in a row and were looking forward to year number four,” said team member Jefferson Mast-Morris.
Team 2 Legit 2 Quit paid $248 for entry after receiving a 40 percent discount for early registration.
"We were looking forward to it,” said Gross. “A few of us on the team are teachers and it’s just kind of an end of the school year celebration. It was fun.”
The team was disappointed to learn the Twelve Bridges Relay had been canceled. They felt blindsided with no warning. Members of the team had even worked as race ambassadors for Langley and his company.
"Here we represented him to go out and volunteer, pass out fliers, volunteer at packet pickup and there's nothing," said Amy Mast-Morris.
Numerous runners contacted KGW after the cancellation of the Twelve Bridges Relay and other races, including the Lucky Dog, Double Five, Youngberg Hill Half and the Bald Peak Half marathon.
“I have not gotten any refund. No money back at all,” said runner Lourdes Zakrzewski, who paid $48 to register early for the Youngsberg Hill Half Marathon. She said Double Dog Dare U has not responded to various emails or phone calls.
“It's disappointing and it is very unprofessional,” said Zakrzewski.
Langley failed to notify vendors and event hosts about the race cancellations and he hasn’t responded to their inquiries.
Youngberg Hill winery allowed Double Dog Dare U to use its hillside vineyard near McMinnville as a backdrop for a road race in May.
The vineyard didn’t learn about the cancellation until runners started calling to inquire. Langley never notified Youngberg Hill about his sudden change of plans.
"We were getting five or six calls a day from people who had already signed up wondering what is going on,” said Nicolette Bailey, owner of Youngberg Hill.
In 2016, the event attracted nearly 120 runners. This year, Double Dog Dare U was projecting nearly 200 participants, said Bailey.
“When he canceled it, it was a bad reflection on us. And people blamed us for thinking we were managing it and we really weren't,” explained Bailey. “We were just offering a location to do something good and positive for the community."
State records show Pattric Langley filed as registered owner of Double Dog Dare U events in December 2011.
According to friends, the 46-year-old was well known in Portland’s running community. He served as vice president of race operations for the Oregon Road Runners Club.
Double Dog Dare U successfully organized races in the Portland area for several years. But in the fall of 2016, Langley’s personal life started to unwind, along with his company.
On September 29 police arrested Langley for possession of cocaine. According to court records, an undercover Portland police officer watched Langley purchase what appeared to be crack cocaine in the early morning hours. When confronted by police, Langley “spit the suspected cocaine out of his mouth onto his car,” wrote Multnomah County deputy district attorney Travis Sewell. “Langley said that he was being stupid and had a drug problem.”
Court records show Langley faced growing financial troubles. A pair of creditors filed complaints in Multnomah County for unpaid credit cards.
In December, the Run Oregon blog posted a story about Double Dog Dare U failing to pass along donations to the Pongo Fund, a local pet food bank.
KGW followed up on the report and found that Double Dog Dare U helped organize a 5k and 10k race called The Panda Burro Invitational. A percentage of proceeds from race registrations, along with online donations and raffle ticket sales, were supposed to go to the pet food bank.
Instead, Langley appears to have pocketed the money.
In response, Langley issued an apology, which was posted on the Run Oregon blog in December.
“My not paying the $2,786 charitable donation on the timely basis was wrong. I was not being honest with myself and with others who trusted me. I did not keep business and personal funds separate and thus commingled and misappropriated business funds for personal use,” Langley wrote.
A friend wrote a check to fulfill the donations made to the pet food bank.
“I am sorry for my behavior and for the way I treated those who trusted me. I will act more appropriately in the future,” Langley promised in his apology.
Meanwhile, Langley continued to advertise upcoming races on the Double Dog Dare U website and accept registration fees.
It’s not clear how much money Langley collected before canceling the five Double Dog Dare U races scheduled for spring and summer of 2017.
Langley declined KGW’s request for an interview. Instead, he posted a statement on the company website, which described a challenging business environment, increased costs and a decline in revenue. Langley admitted the company would not be able to issue refunds.
Many of those who worked with Double Dog Dare U said their biggest disappointment has been the way the owner handled his business struggles.
Langley never returned their phone calls and didn’t reply to emails. They felt betrayed.
“I found that shocking,” said Bailey of Youngberg Hill. “I think it is just so wrong in so many ways -- for the participants, the venues and the people that trusted him.”
Runners who wish to file a formal complaint about Double Dog Dare U Events can submit an online form with the Oregon Attorney General’s Office.