Better Business Bureau warning about Birthday Run slated for St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - It's billed as a big 5K race coming to St. Louis, but some fear organizers are only looking to run away with victims' money.

The Better Business Bureau has a warning about an event dubbed, “The Birthday Run.”  Tickets were offered for the event scheduled for downtown St. Louis on Sunday, September 25th, but it appears there is no race.  St. Louis City officials confirm no one has acquired permits to host the event.

BBB investigators in Hawaii report consumers were scammed out of money after they bought tickets for a Birthday Run event scheduled in that state.

Photos from The Birthday Run website make the 5K run look like a giant celebration covered in confetti.  The website calls it the, “biggest birthday event” and indicates lights, lasers and party hats are involved.  The site also indicates money will go to charity.

The BBB has been unable to reach the website operators.  We tried a phone number listed on the website, but it was out of order.  The website indicates other cities are hosting events, but the BBB has yet to hear from a city familiar with the race.

Local racing experts say they’re not familiar with the event, and believe it’s a scam.

“It happens from time to time,” said Matt Helbig, owner of Big River Race Management.  “The majority of the time it’s done by folks who come in from out of town.”

Helbig’s company vets races to weed out scams.   He said the very legitimate Families ROC 5K is scheduled to take place at the same location the Birthday Race is advertising.   Families ROC is a group raising money for ovarian cancer research.

“We were expecting to have the area to ourselves, and apparently these guys think they’re going to be there as well,” said Helbig.

He said the Families ROC race and his company will waive running fees for anyone who was duped by The Birthday Run advertisements for St. Louis.  He said runners should bring proof of their Birthday Run purchase to the packet pickup at the Big River Running location at 5353 Devonshire Ave., St. Louis, MO 63109.

Smith encourages anyone who bought tickets to The Birthday Run to contact the BBB or local authorities.

The website for The Birthday Run indicates the company is headquartered in Salt Lake City.  A spokesperson with the Utah Department of Commerce said the agency was not familiar The Birthday Run.  She said if any consumers were scammed, they should try calling their credit card company to seek a refund.  She said victims could also contact The Utah Department of Commerce.