Verify: Is the Littleton margarita fun run happening?

We're a pretty trusting people. Especially those of us who like margaritas. So, you'd forgive us for not thinking twice about something called the Margarita Madness 5K, a run for charity in Littleton this fall.

VERIFY – YOU’VE GOT QUESTIONS, WE’LL FIND ANSWERS

A 9NEWS project to make sure what you’ve heard is true, accurate, verified. Want us to verify something for you? Email verify@9news.com

THE QUESTION

How can you tell whether a 5K fun run is really going to happen?

That’s the question we received from a running group about a Margarita Madness 5K advertised for Reynolds Landing Park in Littleton on October 7, 2017.

The race website features photographs of smiling runners holding margaritas, but the lack of contact information, pricey parking fees and an unusually strict refund policy raised a few red flags.

WHAT WE FOUND

The short answer to whether the race will happen is maybe.

The company hasn’t finished the permit process – which city officials and other fun run organizers called unusual – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Here’s what we know so far.

The World Wide Push Foundation, the charity the margarita race's website says its fundraising for, started the process of applying for a permit from South Suburban Parks and Recreation.  

The foundation's website says it raises money for college scholarships. 9NEWS couldn't find a tax return for the charity, so we can't verify how it spends the money it receives. We did verify that the charity and the margarita run use the same California PO box as a mailing address.

The park's permit specialist Shauna D’Amato  said she sent the charity a stipulation letter saying it could have a park permit  if it followed a list of steps. These included paying an $1,800 rental fee, showing proof of insurance and sending the park a copy of the race route.

No one has paid the park or sent the necessary documents yet, but the deadlines haven’t passed.

9NEWS also called the City of Littleton to see whether anyone filed for the other permits the race would need.

“The City of Littleton has received nothing from the organizers of this event,” spokeswoman Kelli Narde said.

Race organizers need a permit for the DJ, the food trucks and the margaritas.

The liquor permit comes with an important caveat.

Littleton requires a for-profit company like Margarita Madness 5K to partner with a non-profit, politician or municipality if it wants to serve alcohol at a onetime event like a fun run.

The World Wide Push Foundation would theoretically qualify as a non-profit partner, but it’s not registered with the Secretary of State’s Office. Colorado law requires charities that raise money in the state to register and provide financial information about where its funds go.

“Part of the [permit] requirement is to have a certificate of good standing with the Secretary of State’s Office, so that’s something that we would need to see,” Narde said.

The Secretary of State’s office told 9NEWS it plans to investigate and send the California-based charity a letter asking it to register.

The Verify team also emailed the Margarita Madness 5K’s generic information address for comment. The website doesn't have a phone number or other contact information.

“We have done events in Denver before. We put on events all over the country,” according to an email response from event staff. “The process is pretty much the same everywhere. It takes about 45 days for all permits and process. Our event isn't until October 7, so we will have all of the required permits.”

9NEWS asked what other events the company held in Colorado, but race staff didn’t respond.

Krys Davis, one of the co-founders of the Wicked Wine Run and the Martini Madness 5K, said the no refund policy for the margarita run would give her pause.

Here’s part of what it says: “Location and date are subject to change at any time. The logistics of setting up and planning the event make it impossible. Date and location is subject to change without refund issued. In some cases city or location issues will force us to change a date or location. Just make sure you are good to go before signing up.”

Of the more than 70 races Davis has organized during her career, she said she's rescheduled three or four because of severe weather conditions.

“It’s very rare to have to reschedule a race,” Davis said. “We’ve never actually canceled a race and not had a race within a few days or weeks.”

She added that she's never had to change a venue.

“When a race says we can change the date, change the location, that’s a sign they haven’t secured a place officially,” Davis said. “That’s a sign it’s a scam.”

Davis' final word of caution was about sound alike races. These are races with names that sound like a popular fun run you probably heard about.

For example, The Ultimate Wine Run sounds similar to her company's Wicked Wine Run. However, the former has an F rating from the Better Business Bureau as well as dozens of news articles from around the country about races being indefinitely postponed or canceled.

BOTTOM LINE

The Margarita Madness 5K has started the process of getting the permits it needs to run a race in Littleton, but it will be another month or two before we know whether it’s going to happen.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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