An open letter to HPRS Race Director John “Sherpa” Lacroix

First and foremost, let me just say upfront that my intention in writing this letter is not to disrespect, put down, or otherwise slander anyone or their reputation. However, with that said, I feel that presenting my side of the situation publicly like this was the only option I had to address and rectify my concerns (especially since my direct line of contact had been terminated by the other party) over a situation that occurred between myself and fellow local ultra runner and race director of HPRS John “Sherpa” Lacroix.

Most of you know John in some capacity, whether it be through social media or participation in his events. One thing I think everyone would agree on is that whether online or at an event, John certainly has no problem voicing his opinion or thoughts on any given subject, regardless of who it offends or pisses off. Personally, I grew an appreciation for his honesty in that regard, not to mention my admiration for his support and defense of the grassroots and communal aspects of ultra running. Because of this, it is not without some regret over the misfortune of having to share such an extremely negative experience I had with him recently.

Lets get down to what happened….

On November 15th, I posted the following status:

Adam1

To which spawned the following heated exchanges on Facebook:

John1Messages

Adam2

John2

John3

Just as it reads, clear as day, I did not mention any particular race promotion that I lost $ to. Let me say that again to make myself 100%, completely unequivocally clear: I did NOT mention any one race promotion I lost $ to. The reason for this is simple – there were several. It’s also worth noting that the figure was actually around $500 total when it was all said and done. Additionally, I need to be crystal clear about something else. I do not in any way deny responsibility for missing the races I signed up for. As I said originally though, I was going through a major life change and simply could not make time to attend these events.

More importantly, my original rant was nothing more than an open ended rant, clearly not aimed at any one promotion in particular. It was a way for me to just voice my frustration out loud at the circumstances which prevented me from attending the events in 2014 that I signed up for.

A couple things I’d like to address with regard to the emails exchanged:

1) John – you had told me previously that Ultrasignup will charge the difference to my card to account for the cost difference of upping my distance from 50K to 100K for Tommyknocker. It is no way my fault that this did not occur, so throwing it in my face was groundless. I said to feel free to charge me extra or whatever needed to take place in order to compensate you for the difference. Are you sure it wasn’t something on your end that you did incorrectly or overlooked?

2) I think it’s completely hypocritical of you to call me out of line for expressing an opinion that I still stand by. Do I believe that some promotions need a better or more well defined refund policy to accommodate what can happen in day-to-day life? Of course I do. Especially when dealing with the higher cost of bigger and lengthier races like trail ultras. Furthermore, I can’t count how many times YOU’VE called out someone or something that you didn’t agree with. How come you’re apparently the only one who can share an opinion? All of a sudden when it offends you then it’s out of line? How does that figure?

3) I’m still floored over the fact that you’re offended that I praised Charles Johnson. Charles put on a fantastic race in Gunnison this year, and I’m returning to run the same race, a fully supported 100K trail ultra, for $20. Do you run deals like that? And more importantly, why are you so pissed over me giving props to someone (something I’ve done tirelessly for you and HPRS since I’ve known you) else? You do realize how petty and nearly immature that makes you look, right?

I’ve done my best to remain silent and cordial on the issue, but I’m damn sure not going to allow myself to be attacked out of no where for such a bogus reason that was not even directed at you. How easy it must be to have an opinion when it was not your money nor devastating circumstances you had to deal with.

Let me tell you something John, for as much as you act like it, you don’t have a patent on the sport of ultra running. Furthermore, for someone who stresses the importance of unity and community in the scene, you sure do your share of alienating people with such a shitty attitude sometimes. You have done great things for the sport yes, and I do believe you deep down to be a solid guy, but to me that doesn’t excuse your misguided blatant attack on me. In this case, I do believe it was you, not me, that acted like a colossal prick.

No thanks on the comp, I’m pretty put out with the whole situation. Additionally, I think I can find other, cheaper races to run. I hope my money went to good use.

Good luck to you 2015.

– Adam

@303trailrunner

3 thoughts on “An open letter to HPRS Race Director John “Sherpa” Lacroix

  1. Good Evening Adam,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this open letter to me on your blog. I wanted to take a moment to address your concerns appropriately.

    First… your starting comments, “my intention in writing this letter is not to disrespect, put down, or otherwise slander anyone or their reputation…” This is like saying, “I’m sorry but… I’m not sorry.” I am incredibly disappointed that you have chosen to publicly post a private conversation between the two of us. That was a private conversation, and by you sharing that conversation to make a point.. is indeed disrespectful and the nature of your post is indeed slanderous.

    That said, I am still happy to have this conversation both publicly or privately. I did find your Facebook post to be offensive and disrespectful. I also found it hypocritical, because in back to back sentences, you condone RDs who need to take a fresh look at their refund policies, but then praise Charles Johnston. Now.. there was never disrespect meant towards Charles in this conversation, he’s doing good things too, but his refund policy is very clear on his website as “No Refunds.” So to call out RDs as needing a “fresh look” then praising an RD with a No Refund policy, I felt was hypocritical of you.

    To clear up who your original Facebook Post was directed at, I’d like to invite you to publicly tell us who you were referring to when you mention “Some Refund Policies” of “Some Promotions.” With all do respect Adam, 95% of the races in the country have a “No Refunds” Policy. So I agree, I think RDs can do better at reviewing their policies to offer options to runners. Which is what HPRS has in place, as well as Aravaipa, and others.

    I can appreciate the fact that you did not call out any particular promotion by name. But I, probably more than anyone else and admittedly so, know what happens when you make open ended statements, or generalizations. They are taken the wrong way by any number of individuals. Which is why we ALL need to be more careful about our word choices especially in the social media spectrum.

    Now to your points.
    1.) Nothing was over looked Adam. You were supposed to be charged the difference between the 50K and 100K Registration Fees, and I decided not to charge you and give you a break. Why? Because like myself, I understood the time you were going through in your life and wanted to just let it go quietly. There was no thanks needed, which is probably why I never got a thank you, because I did all of this quietly for you. Instances like this will likely prevent me from allowing runners to increase in distance after they’ve registered for the race already in the future.

    In 2014, HPRS hosted 2 races. The Tommyknocker Ultramarathons had 37 runners attend and I can tell you that 7 of those runners, ran the race thanks to a comp entry and another 10 enjoyed a discounted entry. Also, for a time, we allowed runners to receive a steep discount for Indian Creek Fifties Registration provided they sign up for Tommyknocker. It ended up that a lot of runners took advantage of two-for-the-price-of-one pricing to our first two races. I’m sorry you think that I was throwing this “in your face.” Honestly, I was not. I was merely telling you that the comp I was giving you for 2015, included the fees you paid for the Tommyknocker 50K.. not the 100K price, which I figured you assumed you had paid for.

    2.) Direct a race Adam. I make $0.05 an hour, maybe less, to do what I do. That’s JUST for the races and does not include the amount of time I put in to the FREE Fat Ass Series. I understand, completely, why so many races have a “no refund” policy. The Race Directors still very much deserve to be paid for the amount of work that goes into an event. This coming from a guy, who for years, protested that anyone direct races for a living. “How dare they!” Now I know better and appreciate things a lot more. You should take a look from the other side of the fence before you lob stones over into the other yard.

    With that said, as far as races go, my events are all priced below the national average. I have no corporate sponsors. Everything comes from my personal pocket (I’ve been unemployed for all but 6 months of the last 2 years) and what runners pay to enter. For me to still offer such reasonable prices, comps, discounts, AND offer refunds, or credits to future events.. I feel.. is incredibly reasonable. But let me ask you.. how many RDs hunt down the no shows to offer them a refund or credit? The onus is on you, the runner, and your publicly calling out RDs to review their refund policy because you lost out on so much in 2014, I feel, is ridiculous.

    Adam, sir, there are a number of runners who offered to give you rides to HPRS races this fall. Instead of seeking refunds to these and other events, you gave (or tried to give) your entries away to other runners as a transfer. I find it disrespectful to RDs that you call us out for not giving you your money back or a credit, when instead of adhering to whatever refund policy we have in place, you instead transfer your entry to another runner. In once stance, it is incredibly generous of you to offer your race entry to another runner when you yourself are not going to run. On the other hand.. how can you call out RDs for needing a fresh look when instead of contacting them for refunds, you were working to transfer your entry? This doesn’t make sense to me.

    3.) I’m not floored that you praised Charles. He’s a good guy. He, like I said, and every other RD out there is doing their best. His Ouray 100 got rave reviews and I’m sure the Colorado 200 will as well. As I said in my response to you, “Charles works hard at what he is trying to do” and his refund policy was “No Refunds.” I was NOT floored at you for simply praising Charles.. I was floored that in the same paragraph.. you called for RDs to review their refund policy and followed it up with, “That’s why I am thankful for RDs like Charles..” WHO HAS A “NO REFUNDS” POLICY!

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. You as well, Hence this post, and I am glad I had the chance to read it. But.. it should be said, that I am well aware when my comments are off base, offensive, are going to ruffle feathers or stir the pot. I have had a number of opinions, thoughts, posts, etc.. that were out of line and offended people. When I post those things, I have to be ready for the fall out or I can choose not to post. I’ve openly admitted my flaws, where I have been wrong, numerous times, over the years. I have also had people, whom I’ve offended with my comments, come up to me 2+ years later to say I was right and to apologize. So, I agree 100%. You are correct.. like all of those folks, I can be offended too, and express that sentiment to the writer of whatever post. That’s how it works.

    You came to my house one afternoon and we went for a walk. On that walk, you told me that had you known that the Cimarron race was going to be so small, unorganized, and that the aid stations so poor… you would have chosen another race AND that it was unlikely that you would run one of Charles Races again. THIS is why I was floored that you were praising Mr. Johnston after the sentiments you shared with me following your Cimmaron Experience and given his actual refund policy. But this isn’t about Mr. Johnston..

    What looks immature, and prickish, Mr. Blea is your post where you publicly post our private conversation. What is immature is your twisting of my words. What is immature is that you blame the refund policies of RDs for YOUR CHOICES not to attend races when many others offered you support in getting to those races. I can appreciate that you were going through a tough time in 2014, but you’re not the only one Mr. Blea. Like I said, I’ve been unemployed for all but 6 months of the last 2 years. I have a wife, a house, and a 2 year old son. What you went through this year was no extraordinaire. But blaming others.. is.

    Do I offer a deal to run a 100K for $20? No sir.. I do not.. but I do offer 15% off, 10% off, 20% off, Enter this race at early bird prices and get 25% off the next race, of the 170 runners we had in 2014, I gave out two dozen comp entries. I have a scholarship program that gives 2 comp entries to needy runners to each race. I put a rock out on the course and give $250 (out of my pocket) to any runner who brings it across the finish line. I give comp entries to those who come in DFL at my races. I am putting on a weekend long trip to Bryce for $50.. which includes a Friday Meal, complete logistics for a Trans bryce run including multiple aid stops along the route, shirts, awards.. all included.. These trips used to be $20 and have gone on for 4 years now. So no.. I don’t sell my race for $20.. I do so much more and proudly so.

    I’m sorry you found my offer to you, of a comp entry in 2015, to be colossally prickish. I sincerely meant to offer you the comp entry, despite your inability to follow our refund policy, as a way to say thank you for your support and hope you’ll still find a way to join us. However, it is evident, that perhaps you’re not the kind of runner we’re looking to attract. Good luck to you in 2015 and beyond and congrats on your exciting new Adventure at Red Bull. I hope this new light in life continues to bring you great success and forward progress. You deserve it.

    Sherpa John Lacroix
    HPRS
    The Evil RD

    • Good evening John,

      Thank you for taking the time to respond to my open letter. Considering the circumstances, I assume one of our mutual friends alerted you to this blog initially, which I’m fine with. Yes, I get it, this response is months later, but there were a number of things that were not addressable immediately to you for several reasons. That said, I’d like to be as clear and forthcoming as possible.

      You seem like the type of person that needs things broke down, apparently most of the time in the most basic elementary form, so allow me:

      1) How you managed to make a post that was NOT about you, well, about you, is beyond me. How someone with an (alleged) college education can fail to understand this very basic fundamental principle escapes any type of logic I have, so unfortunately I can’t help in this regard. If, to this day, you STILL don’t understand that this post was never about you, then I am sorry, but it sounds like more of a personal problem as opposed to something I should be held accountable to justifying or clarifying to you. Furthermore, your blatant lack of respect and OVER-willingness to engage in yet another argument confirms what many already know about you. And this is very clear, that you LOVE any argument rather than the actual issue. John, it’s really sickening to see the depths you have sunk to in interacting with people. You really need a refresher course in human interaction my man. Always responding with negativity and backlash will manage to get you and the HPRS series no where….fast.

      2) Since some time has passed, I almost feel silly addressing this point, but to be absolutely clear, I will. When you say a “number of runners” were willing to take me, who exactly do you mean? Additionally, you never did “chase me down” as you implied you did. It took me shaking the entire tree and bringing on a shit show in order to even get a response out of you. That is clearly evidenced by the Facebook message exchange which I already posted. Would you also like me to post the message in which you asked me shortly after I got hired by Red Bull to see if they could sponsor HPRS? I’d be glad to, just give me the word.

      3) You being so disrespectful as to compare my personal situation to yours is detestable. You lack class and taste for even doing so. This is probably the hardest thing to hold back my emotions on because you have NO idea what I went through. But, since you took it upon yourself to pass judgment on what I went through, then maybe you deserve some of the same. You mentioned you have a wife, a house, blah blah….EXACTLY John. I invite you to spend a night or two in a homeless shelter without someone to lean on, THEN talk to me. Spend a few months struggling to eat, THEN talk to me. Stand in line at a food bank, THEN talk to me. And as easy as it would be for me to offer an opinion on why after hundrerds of job applications you remained unemployed, I’ll stay quiet. You really need to learn the art of tact my man.

      4) I can’t tell you how many people came to me after our situation and expressed the same concerns and even offered support. Many couldn’t publicly because they are in positions such as race directors, fellow racers of yours, and several other people who you wouldn’t think. So, make no mistake, I am not the only one who feels the way I do. You need to stop disrespecting people otherwise you are gonna wind up with literally NOBODY left to run your races. Drop the pride dude, it’s not about your history, it’s about people. And for a race series and director that stresses so much about “for us all” you apparently seem to be lacking in that very basic idea.

      5) Several of your emails from Fat Ass events continue to get forwarded to me. I never set out to be an anti-HPRS guy, but you are near impossible to deal with. You are beyond disrespect so much that I just cringe whenever I see an exchange between you and someone else. It’s really sad.

      Lastly I just want to say that I never meant this issue to turn into what it became. I can tell you that you need to start treating your people better. Loose the ego bro. For a race series and director that talks to so much about community and “together” it’s really unfortunate to see the reality of it, which seems to be anything but.

      Good luck to you as well John. Rest assured I am living life happy and healthy. I didn’t know there was life after HPRS but I am certainly finding it, with a number of people.

      Cheers.

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