ZMBLND 5K a "Fiasco," With Delays, Understaffing, Toilet Troubles
"What went wrong with ZMBLND?" begins organizer Marc Lissade's apology to participants. "I failed and I take full responsibility for the event shortcomings."
The zombie-themed 5K set to take place Saturday at Amelia Earhart Park promised a mud run with obstacles, finishing with medals and t-shirts. Approximately 1,500 people showed up to take part, Lissade says. But the reality of the event didn't match up with those participants' expectations, devolving into a disorganized mess that has left many in Miami's running community -- especially those who paid as much as $70 to participate -- feeling ripped off.
"Yes, we only had nine people working for an expected attendance of 1,500 people, and yes, we only had 1 porta-potty for an expected crowd of 1,500. Yes, we only had one obstacle ready for the race. Yes, we ran out of t-shirts early," Lissade's apology continues.
Lissade claims that half the volunteers and contractors he'd hired to work the event never showed up, which led to delays in building the obstacles for the course and registering runners. The company hired to deliver the porta potties also bailed, he says; the lone portable toilet available was provided at the last minute by park management.
From there, things only got worse. Waves of runners were delayed for hours. Equipment, medals, and t-shirts were stolen from the premises. Seemingly the only part of the process that did go smoothly was the zombie makeup application -- check out our slideshow from the event to see some pretty sweet, decayed-looking faces.
Lissade has promised to issue refunds and asserts he didn't plan the run as a scam: "I am actually much worse off financially tonight than if I had not put on this event at all." But many runners haven't accepted his apology. The run's Facebook wall is filled with angry, disappointed comments from runners, who paid anywhere between $45 and $70 to compete.
"You should have cancelled this event days ago," wrote Celisse Dones. "It's not like you woke up today and realized it was going to be a disaster. If your event had been organized properly your volunteers and 'staff' wouldn't have flaked out."
"You had to have clues leading up to today that would have given you an indication that things were not going as planned. You had plenty of time to cancel or postpone this event before 1500 people showed up at your door angry at your incompetence," agreed Darren Brent. "Maybe it wasn't a scam, but it was absolute incompetence and your weak non apology is unacceptable."
But Michael Eisenstadt perhaps summed up the sentiment of the runners best:
"Your excuses are lame and you scammed a lot of people bro."