The organizers of an annual race in Kentucky are coming under fire this week as news spreads of their intention to have "native American re-enactors" chase participants to the finish line.
Set to take place on Aug. 15, the James Ray 5K is part of the Pioneer Days Festival at Harrodsburg, Ky., a "family community event" meant to help locals connect with their "heritage as the 1st pioneer settlement west of the Alleghenies," according to the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce.
Twitter began buzzing about the race Wednesday after several high-profile users shared links to an article promoting the race in the Central Kentucky News-Journal.
"It's not every day you can find a 5K — or any race — where American Indians reenactors will chase you to the finish line," the piece, which was published Monday, reads. "Yet that's exactly what you'll get Aug. 15 at the James Ray 5K — Indian Attack in Harrodsburg."
Contrary to what many on Twitter have suggested, the article is not satirical or fake.
In fact, the 5K with "Indian attackers" took place last year in a similar fashion, as a poster uploaded to the event's Facebook page in July of 2014 shows:
The News-Journal's coverage of the race ahead of this year's Pioneer Days Festival confirms that 2015 will be the second time re-enactors will chase runners near the finish line.
"We're getting set up for this again," race director Terry Wasson told the newspaper. "The (American Indians re-enactors) will chase runners, and it seemed to be something that everybody really enjoyed last year. It was a big hit and came off as unique as we had hoped it would."
A news article from last year's festival contains one image of two re-enactors chasing race participants with the caption, "Dressed as Native Americans, Kayla Slone and Nick Laymon swoop down on 73-year-old Harold Lanham on Saturday near the James Ray 5K finish line."
After nearly 24 hours of being pelted with criticism from Twitter users describing the race as racist, supportive of redface, and as "the epitome of a bad idea," the Pioneer Days of Mercer County Kentucky Facebook page addressed the issue Thursday morning:
"All concerns expressed on the James Ray 5 K have been heard and the race has been altered accordingly," reads the most recent post in its feed.
The Mercer County Chamber of Commerce also posted the following message on its website:
"The Mercer Chamber of Commerce and the Pioneer Days Festival Committee, after being made aware of an inappropriate reference to Native Americans in a story and advertisement published in the Advocate Messenger, has pulled all references to Native Americans in its print and internet media. All sponsors of any event held in conjunction with Pioneer Days has been reviewed and asked to remove all references to Native Americans in its print and internet media."
While both messages indicate that materials have been changed, as of Thursday afternoon, the race's 2015 registration form remains online and accessible to the public.
"You can either run or walk, but don't be surprised if you encounter some obstacles and come under attack when Indians chase you to the finish!" reads the form, which is titled "JAMES RAY 5K - 'Indian Attack'"
At least one of the race's sponsors has also removed evidence of last year's re-enactors from its own Facebook page.
The photo at the top of this page, saved by the Fusion website before it was deleted, appeared in an album on FitnessEDGE's page until about 11 a.m. ET on Thursday according to the post's edit history.