Dirty Girl Mud Run Lives Up To Its Name

The Dirty Girl Mud Run has worked very hard to craft its image. And yet recent missteps, including shady social media practices, might cost them that reputation. 

The for-profit company is seen by many as a charitable organization, though it only donates only 2.5% of its proceeds to charity.

Still, in the booming business of organized runs, they’ve become a front-runner. Perhaps it’s because 5Ks are traditionally fundraisers. Or perhaps it’s because people are more excited about the race experience… until it’s no longer a positive one.

Like in Charleston, WV, when a race was canceled (due to reasons that seem to stem back to the company itself refusing to pay the vendors for the race). And not one of the entrants will be getting a refund.

Dirty Girl's Announcement

This is already pretty terrible PR. Because these are pretty terrible practices.

But when people got talking— angrily— Dirty Girl tried to silence them.

The Social Screw Up

At 9 a.m., Dirty Girl Mud Run posted their cancellation announcement on Facebook.

After receiving hundreds of shares and comments, Dirty Girl made the worst possible move: it simply deleted its post.

All of the comments? Gone. All of the shares of the original? Removed from every personal page that shared them.

Then they just reposted it.

As of right now, that post still stands. The comments and shares are piling up. Dirty Girl has yet to respond to a single one of them.


Why It Matters

How does it feel to not only be wronged, but also ignored (or worse, silenced) when you speak out about it? According to Dirty Girl’s racers, far more insulting.

This is a form of censorship we rarely see on social media. Because it ticks people off.

Social media isn’t a 1-way platform. It’s a 2-way street. Consumers view the internet is a place for our voices to be heard. So when people who shared the deleted post found their own messages gone, they naturally felt like Dirty Girl had overstepped its boundaries— onto their personal Facebook pages— to try to silence them.

The company credits their success to “our customers’ evangelism.” And yet they showed no regard for the investments the hopeful runners had made to their company. And added insult to injury by also disregarding their disappointment.

Whichever entity ends up ultimately being at fault for the cancellation of the race (Dirty Girl, the city of Charleston, or third-party promoter Human Movement), the biggest loser will be Dirty Girl.

Actually, the biggest loser here is the charity that most of these registrants thought they were supporting.

So what now?

But the wronged runners can still fight this mess, without Dirty Girl being able to interfere:

  • Call your credit card company and explain that these were fraudulent charges, since the service you paid for wasn’t provided. Many women are claiming they have gotten their money back through the banks.
  • Make an official complaint. Dirty Girl may delete your wall posts, but you can rate them elsewhere online, report them to the Better Business Bureau, or to the WV State Attorney General’s Office.
  • Continue to share and spread the word. Instead of re-posting Dirty Girl’s status, which they might again delete, share local news stories and other comments.
  • Take advantage of the discounts that other races are extending to participants in the canceled run:

-The Bun Run is offering a $15 entry to their 5K (normally $20). Register via tristateracer.com with the discount code “dirtygirl.”

-The Human Movement told media it planned to offer free entry to its other events in nearby cities.

Some people are even calling media and organizations in other cities where Dirty Girl is held, to warn them.

Don’t mess with WV. We do play fair, and that’s how we win.

As for Dirty Girl…

Here are some tips your social media team could have desperately used today:

  • PR representatives deserve a seat at the decision-making table. You could have spared yourself some grief with a solid professional opinion from the start. Just like the fun shared photos of your race won over new runners, these complaints will continue to turn others away. Bad service spreads a bad reputation, plain and simple.
  • And rightfully so. May we suggest that you consider following the Golden Rule? Refusing to refund, or even offer admittance to a different race, smacks of greed, indifference and shady dealings.
  • Social media is a reflection of your company. Not responding to people makes you look like you don’t care about them. Silencing their concerns belittles them entirely. Which is a poor way to convince them to give you more money in the future, don’t you think?
  • Speaking of, you should think about your long-term strategy instead of short-term gain. Repeat ‘evangelist’ customers that dutifully dole out $100 every year will make you way more over time than you made from keeping their money this weekend. And now you get to spend more money on advertising to all-new customers, without the word-of-mouth boost you had before. It’s not going to be easy.

Here’s hoping you can clean up your act, Dirty Girl.