Momentous event cancellation and lack of refund


I assume many of you have had events cancelled in the last few weeks. An event I entered in June (perhaps let’s keep the name private for now) was cancelled, the organisers quoting ‘act of God’ as a reason and hence refusing to return any of the money (they are giving free entry into next year’s event as compensation). The fact is that they have ‘act of God’ cancellation in the T&Cs, with no refund offered.

The bit that I find particularly frustrating is:

  • the event was cancelled on 18th March, when British Triathlon federation official policy was to cancel events only until end of April (this was extended to end of June only today)
  • the official government policy even now does not extend this far out
  • so I feel that I can make a pretty compelling case for the cancellation not being fair
  • me asking for money back results in the organiser quoting covid-linked disruption, impact on people’s health and lives etc. and thus making me feel really crap for asking in the first place (but I also know that it is very unlikely I will be doing the race next year…)

So, anyone in a similar boat?


How big is the organiser?

If they’re not WTC then I’d say swallow it.

Most events are ran by small, dedicated teams who also have mouths to feed.

Their upfront costs have gone. Vanished.
Ignore what you see on the day, it’s what you don’t see;

Council liaison time
Legal costs
Emergency service liaison
Food suppliers
Drink suppliers
Event merchandise

All of these have already been paid.
The suppliers will be close to friends by now, they’ll also be in the same position.

How much is the entry fee?
What difference will that make to you?

To them, say on a field of 400 at £50 per time, it’s a £20k liability and no event for anyone next year.

Have a think about what you do next.

Take care and regards.


If enough of us flex our muscles over this, we could probably get some money back. And as part of that action, we’d also get virtually no events to enter next year, as all the event companies will have gone bust.

I know one event organiser well, and they have to do a separate part time job in order to make ends meet (and it isn’t a glamorous job). They aren’t making anything even remotely approaching a living wage from events, but put in a shitload of work. If they have to fork out for refunds, after the expenses they’ve already paid out, they’ll be exposed to the tune of a years salary, that they just don’t have. Yes, its shit, but we’re all in this together, and IMO we need to face up to a bigger picture. I don’t want to lose my money, but I don’t want to see an RD in a bankruptcy court either.
Saying all of that, while I’ll be letting the entry fees for small events slide personally, i’ll be giving WTC a REALLY hard time to get my money back for the IM i’m entered for, as they’re a £650M corporation, and the same rules don’t apply.


errm - not quite. yes, the announcement from the BTF came out on Monday but last Friday the ITU and ETU announced the ban to the end of June so it was more or less a “given” that the BTF would follow suit, it just took them the weekend to put the statement out.

but as others have said, seriously think of what action you want to take. event organisation is a precarious business and if we want to continue having events, these guys need support. and fwiw, if an organiser doesn’t have cancellation insurance, they can’t get it now as no insurer is writing any policies for obvious reasons.

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I’ve had a few events cancelled or postponed. Two of them are now in September, hopefully, and I’ll go ahead and do these. One running event offered either automatic entry into the event same time next year or to donate the entry fee to their two charities; I won’t be living locally next year so I donated.
Fundamentally, my approach is to suck up whatever is offered because I want to be able to do events next year and the year after and so on. I know many (especially smaller) event organisers don’t make much money from their events and they must be crushed by having to cancel events, especially as it is probably the case that their insurers won’t pay them, hence they can’t pass on the insurance payment to their customers.

It’s actually astonishing what it costs to put on an event, even a small one! You can find out this sort of stuff by volunteering at events and thereby getting to know the organisers, also this is a good way to get discounted race entry - many organisers offer vouchers to their volunteers. This might help plan your next events and make up for money lost for events you had entered but can no longer do.


I see Outlaw have now backed down from the £20 deferral charge. I was a little frustrated by that, but hadn’t actually moaned to them directly. Seems like lots did.

I’ll just take the May 2021 default option. I certainly can’t complain with a no costs deferral. And I expect that is what I will end up doing for IM Vitoria as well. On that, I had booked with the official event accommodation provider. They have confirmed full refunds are still available up to the original 3rd May date. I’ve emailed IM to see if they can coordinate some kind of system with the provider where the accommodation bookings shift with whatever they do with the race, likely to next year. I’d rather not put the accommodation provider under financial pressure by pulling my cash back if I don’t have to, as I’m still going to have to do the race at some point, but unless I get that kind of assurance then I would be left with no choice but to do so.


Having said all that, IM Spain literally just responded. Seems like they completely missed the point of my email, where I was trying to be pragmatic and helpful to the Spanish economy. They entirely ignored the fact I was asking about accommodation, NOT a race entry refund or deferral:

Thank you for your email. This event will take place as scheduled. If we plan to make any changes we will inform you as soon as possible. This is the withdrawal and transfer policy: Please check the deadlines and if you want to transfer/defer or receive a partial refund for your entry please fill the form you’ll find on the same link.

I’m sorry IM Spain, but I don’t believe you. You cannot say for sure that the event will go ahead as scheduled. And because of that, and the fact you almost certainly wont make that decision until the 50 day deadline mentioned in the IM Europe email which is after 3rd May, I’m going to have no choice but to ask for my money back from the accommodation provider.


The accommodation providers website is now awash with rooms when they were largely sold out, so if by some miracle it does go ahead, then I’m guessing so long as I am quick I will be able to rebook the room I had. But I’d rather take that risk, than risk losing all my money on an event that is seriously unlikely to go ahead as planned, no matter what they say.


Ironman 70.3 Connecticut cancelled yesterday (due to race May 31st) after last week they said that they were postponing it.

They give 10 options for transfers to other 70.3 races, 8 of which are this year and 2 next year, however… no deferral for the same race for next year, which leads me to believe the race won’t be going ahead anymore (long time event that was previously owned by Rev3 until last year when IM took over. Apparently the locals have never been fans)

Oh - they only allow 10 days to make a decision - so WTC can go and fuck themselves! I didn’t expect any refunds (not from WTC) but don’t tell people they need to plan a trip around the country and book flights and accommodation in the environment that we are currently in and they have to make it a rushed decision! Especially if one of the options is not to just do the same race next year.

No refunds offered, so although I will select one of the transfer races… I’m not sure if I will bother racing. The Connecticut race was local to my in-laws and so didn’t need transport and accommodation costs… now it will cost me probably over a grand to do any of the other races. I certainly don’t want to make the decision just yet.

I am thinking I may just transfer to the first race which is in August which I really do not imagine will go ahead, and then take whatever transfer options are offered when that race ultimately ends up being cancelled - though the risk if I was to continue doing that is that next time there may be less transfer options.

I’d imagine its all going to come to a head at some point GB, when they run out of events to transfer people into, either due to diary clashes, or oversubscription… and perhaps a complete melt down online once the options become narrower and narrower. They MUST be aware that refusing refunds is just cannibalising next years revenue anyway!?

Well, I’m hoping all this gives local grass-roots events a shot in the arm tbh. If there are some RDs who are able to put-on some late season head-to-head Tris, then I think they’d get good take-up. Well, I’d hope so.

It would be interesting to see if all the “F*ck Ironman” people on IMJ are going to forget what they said, and enter another Ironman next year anyway… #brandpower

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I’ve got to make a call on my Outlaw place, will probably deffer to next year but my original plan was to do Lanza next year. Outlaw deferral is the sensible option given I haven’t run in a year.

one of the problems I see on the horizon is too many events on the same weekends which, if the event has a BTF permit, could present some problems for the TO teams in us not having enough committed TOs around to cover them. in the SE we already have one weekend in September with 8 events listed which includes rescheduled ones, and being open water you ideally need 2 TOs at each. some events such as qualifiers and champs obviously take TO priority so they will get covered but others???

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Cotswold 113 and Outlaw organisers in joint interview with Mark on the Brick Session podcast giving their side of things. Good to hear from both, personal feel to both companies.

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Thanks for the heads up. Have very good experiences of Graeme having done 4 or 5 113 events, and was due to do Outlaw Half as my first of there events this year.

The summary is everything we’ve said here and on other threads, that they’re also struggling and potentially facing bankruptcy. But nice to hear it from them, can hear how they care for putting on good customer led events.

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Not just TOs either… how many timing companies are there that can support all these events?.. and they might also find that bike marshalls, first aid supplier and timing chip providers can’t scale for 7 month’s worth of events happening in 4 weekends!


Useful perspectives guys, thanks.

I must say that when I first read the cancellation notice it did cross my mind that the organiser was taking advantage of the situation to cash in - which in retrospect is a narrow minded view and assumes the worst about people and their characters.

(@fatbuddha you are not quite right - on 17th March the BTF official event cancellations were until end of April. The extension of event ban to end of June is more recent.)

While £350 is still a big chunk of money to say bye bye to, have decided not to pursue further - hoping that indeed it helps to keep the organiser afloat.


AG championships in Austria (scheduled for June) has been cancelled. Not a surprise really, but still feel a bit sad.

2/3rds of cost has been promised as a refund. Part of me completely understands the point above of supporting events to promote their longevity, however I feel slightly irritated nonetheless.

Local races I’m happy to forgo my entrance fee (that said, I can understand why people are not), multi national races… perhaps not.

What have you paid £350 for :scream::scream::scream:

read this morning that Quebec government have called for all sports events to be cancelled until August 31 - as a result IM Mont Tremblant in August has been cancelled