worst race communication ever – London Duathlon


I was absolutely shocked that my friend received this email from the London Duathlon on the weekend.

“Did you sleep in on Sunday?”

No, actually, she didn’t.  She registered with me in May to take on the huge challenge of completing the Classic Distance.  We planned our summer around long training rides and spent a few weekends in Richmond Park tackling the hill laps in preparation.  Then in August she broke a bone playing rugby, had to have surgery to help it properly set and the Doctors said absolutely  no Duathlon.  She emailed the London Duathlon to ask about her options to defer her entry to next year because of a medical issue. She knew there were no refunds, but was also told that she couldn’t defer the place or transfer the place in the sold out distance to someone else even 4 weeks before the event.  The same day she spoke with them, London Duathlon posted on Facebook that they were releasing (selling) 20 more places to the Classic distance.  She couldn’t defer or transfer her spot but they were happy to sell more for to the event.

Emma was disappointed to say the least, and had to sit out the event we had planned and trained for for the past 5 months. Then she got the above email that implied she SLEPT IN? Was lazy and just missed it? Forgot to set an alarm? Come on London Duathlon that is not cool and not funny at all.  She did everything she could to contact you and arrange a situation where she could put her registration to use and you said No. In this case, you are the ones who were lazy here and “slept in.”

I was impressed with the organisation of the Duathlon and had a great day but you need to re-thinking your customer care and communication before Emma (or myself) sign up for any more events.


The London Duathlon replied to my blog/tweets and apologised for how the email read and promised to take on the feedback for next year.  I’m not convinced yet and still want them to change their registration policy of no transfers/deferals, but admitting their mistake  is a good first step.




6 thoughts on “worst race communication ever – London Duathlon

  1. pwhent

    Great post Laura. It seems the bigger the event organizers the less flexible they are. How hard would it be to have let your friend defer to next year? Certainly the effort compared to the goodwill generated should make it a no brainer. There is a local tri company near me who let me pull out of a race last year with an injury a week before the race and gave me a credit to be used with any future event. No skin off their nose but it made a big impression on me. And I agree the email to your friend is crass, lazy and rude!

    1. lauraestewart Post author

      Hey Peter, I totally agree. I’m not a race director and understand there is a lot of last minute work to do to put on a race, but have a zero-tolerance policy is not the answer and more organisations need to understand this.

      1. pwhent

        Laura – I just saw your update. Why don’t you strike while the iron is hot and while you have London Duathlon on the back foot and ask again if Emma can defer her place to next year. You will soon see if they are really sorry (as they claim they are) or if their Twitter apology is just for public diplay! Would love to hear the outcome.

  2. emskiruns

    I would have been absolutely furious if I was Emma to be honest so I can completely understand this post. Especially as she had clearly done everything in her power to let them know as much in advance as she possibly could have done. Bad drills from them I think – Hopefully this will be sorted for next year – if I was the race director I would throw in a deferal place for next year purely for the upset caused if nothing else. At least they did respond to your tweet and apologise but like you said it’s not really fixing things right now.

  3. zoeforman

    The big event organisers need to remember its individuals that make up the race numbers and should be treated as individuals not a name & number on an out of date database.
    Well said.
    There are plenty of other duathlons so maybe look around for a smaller one but just as well organised by real people who care that you have a good race and experience all round.

  4. Gemma

    Regardless of race logistics that is just horribly patronising copywriting. It feels incredibly judgemental! I hope your friend Emma finds a more thoughtful organiser for her future competitions, once she’s well enough to do so.


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