Environment Minister Tom Hedderson said Monday he was surprised — and disappointed — to hear about complaints from people who attended the Mud Immortal competition on the weekend.
More than 5,000 people took part in the Mud Immortal challenge on Saturday at Butter Pot Park — a Newfoundland & Labrador provincial park. However, many walked away upset and disappointed.
Participants are complaining that the five-kilometre mud-filled obstacle course wasn't properly set up for the number of people who showed up.
Hedderson said provincial parks are frequently host to a variety of events, but this one seemed to have issues with management that will make him think twice before allowing another event to happen.
"We've had such successful events — that's what parks are for, to make sure that we can cater to any of the events that come our way that we feel are for the good intentions, and in this case it was a fundraising effort," he said.
The complaints ranged from flimsy obstacles to a lack of food and water.
Richelle Abbott was a spectator at the event held at Butter Pot Provincial Park. She took photos and watched her family take part.
"We waited in line for two-and-a-half hours to register, and things quickly began to go downhill," she said.
"For the amount of promotion and the estimated revenue that the event should have grossed, it needed a lot more planning, it needed a lot more construction, and it needed way more volunteers and event staff."
Abbott said there were also safety concerns.
"I left Butter Pot Park feeling very angry and very upset that my friends and my family had paid money to run an event that didn't follow through on any of the promises it made, and it was just so unsafe," she said.
Abbott said the organizers need to speak up.
"If I were one of the organizers for Mud Immortal … first and foremost, I would issue an apology," she said.
"Facebook pages, Twitter — all of the social media sites are exploding with people who are filled with rage," added Abbott.
Abbott's sister, Katelyn Abbott, who took part in the event, said she was disappointed.
"There were a lot of things that I expected that did not happen," she said.
"The obstacles were not up to par for my expectations, there were not enough obstacles, and there was most definitely not enough mud for a mud race."
The Alzheimer Society was promised some of the money that was collected from the event.
Some people who commented on social media were demanding to know how much was collected for the charity.
The event's organizers haven't responded to calls from CBC News.
On Facebook, organizers said they were aware of the concerns, and will publicly respond after they speak with staff, volunteers, and suppliers.
Alzheimer Society still awaiting donation
Shirley Lucas, executive director of the Alzheimer's Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, said the organization has yet to receive the donations from the Mud Immortal event.
Lucas said there may have been issues collecting the money promised to the group, but that event organizer Jonathan Brett has assured her the funds will be sent.
"This was a third party event that they were hosting and … the plan was to give us proceeds from the parking, as well as from the bag check, but I understand that they encountered some problems the day of the event and the monies were not collected in that area," Lucas said.
"I have spoken to Jonathan [Brett - the organizer] this morning … and he was apologetic that this was happening, or has happened, and he indicated that they will be forwarding us a donation at a later point, but the amount of the donation has not been determined at this particular point in time."
According to Lucas, the overall goal of the event was in the right place, but the execution was flawed.
"I think that the intent of this was to get involved with and to do something good for a charitable organization, and I have to be optimistic that that will happen because I certainly don't want our name associated with anything negative whatsoever, but until we get the check in hand, obviously I am going to be concerned."
Lucas said this is the first time the association has worked with the organizer, and they will be going through the third-party event policies within the organization to avoid bad publicity in the future.
Missed potential, minister says
"I am so disappointed I can't even describe — and appalled — that this event turned out the way it is. It was an approved event … that was indicated to us, that would be taken care of, and of course we're doing some good reviews this morning to make sure that this will not happen again," Hedderson added.
He said there was a lot of missed potential for the competition.
"If it was properly organized, they could have handled what was there, but from our understanding everything broke down and what ended up was our staff basically, some time in the middle of the day, having to take over to try to get as many people moving through the course and out of the park so that we could basically avoid much of what happened," Henderson said.
"Events like this have been carried out in other areas across Canada — they've been very, very successful — and a total lack of organization on this one basically made for a very poor day for thousands of people who went out there with all the best intentions," Hedderson said.
Hedderson said his staff will assess any damages to the park and hold the organizers liable.