Dear Jingle Jam 10K Runners, Sponsors, and Volunteers,
Around this time every year, we release the “Letter From the Race Director” to commemorate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to highlight a different domestic violence issue or topic every year. This is not that letter. We will cut to the chase: Last week, the Jingle Jam 10K Board of Directors called an emergency board meeting, unanimously voted to cancel this year’s in-person race AND virtual after learning from the Columbia County government that we would have to pay $19,011.15. We are so sorry. We know how much you were looking forward to an in-person race this year as we could not be together last year. We will re-focus our efforts in planning a comeback race in 2022. To maintain the integrity of this organization, we want to explain the reasoning and rationale behind our decision. Let us be very clear: This is not a smear campaign against any person(s) or organization(s) but an effort to be transparent with our runners, sponsors, and volunteers.
On May 17, 2021, Jingle Jam 10K submitted our Evans Towne Center Park Rental Agreement and Columbia County Road Race Permit application.
On July 22, 2021, we received a fully executed contract for our Evans Towne Center Park Rental Agreement via email.
On September 23, 2021, an official from the Columbia County government asked for a copy of our 2021 Jingle Jam 10K race route.
On October 7, 2021, an official from the Columbia County government alerted us of a change to our road race permit application from previous years. We were told via telephone and email that for our organization to conduct our 10K road race along the same course, we would be required to pay for the barricades and signage that used to be a shared cost. The reason is that the Columbia County Christmas Parade route changed in 2020 and no longer shares a partial route with Jingle Jam 10K. In the past, Jingle Jam 10K shared the cost of staff time, barricades, and signage with Columbia County government and parade officials. Instead of setting up two events simultaneously with the same equipment, Columbia County government staff would now have to set up for Jingle Jam 10K then break down the equipment to set up for the parade on a completely different route.
We understand and agree that the Columbia County government and taxpayers should not be responsible for the cost of holding our race on its current race route. However, we are saddened and disappointed that this new information regarding additional charges was revealed to us less than two months from our 2021 race day.
The revelation of additional costs to our race prompted an emergency board meeting last Wednesday, October 13, 2021. We proposed and discussed four (4) options during our discussion:
1) Try to pay the additional costs: Per the invoice we received via email from the Columbia County government, Jingle Jam 10K will have to pay $19,011.15 for the staff time, barricades, and signage to set up our event. This new amount is a significant increase from $8,025.34, which we paid Columbia County for our 2019 race. Unfortunately, even during our best fundraising year in 2017, we still would not have the funds available to pay the additional costs.
2) Use the suggested 10K race route proposed and certified by Columbia County, which runs down-and-back the Evans-to-Lock Road path: Our 10K road race has registered between 500 to 810 runners since 2011. We felt the path on Evans-to-Lock Road would not be conducive for the number of Jingle Jam 10K runners, entertainment, and volunteers on a narrow down-and-back course.
3) Change the venue and race route completely: The Jingle Jam 10K Board of Directors discussed moving to a different venue in Columbia County or a different county. The labor necessary to find and certify another looped 10K race route, to find another location that would allow us to have a venue for our Start and Finish Line plus our awards ceremony and costume contest, in addition to the strategic placement of our volunteers and entertainment along the course, proved too much for our current time and monetary constraints.
4) Cancel the 2021 race and issue full refunds to our runners and sponsors: The Jingle Jam 10K Board of Directors unanimously voted to cancel this year’s race and issue full refunds to our runners and our sponsors after discussing the options listed in the presence of Aimee Hall, Executive Director of SafeHomes Domestic Violence Intervention Center.
It was a heartbreaking yet necessary decision. The Jingle Jam 10K Board of Directors held a Strategic Planning Meeting for 2022 as soon as the vote was recorded, and we want you to know that our mission remains steadfast. “Jingle Jam 10K benefiting SafeHomes Domestic Violence Intervention Center promotes healthy lifestyles through fitness and furthers the mission of SafeHomes of turning domestic violence victims into survivors.”
We will use the time this to pivot and re-strategize our race and our fundraising efforts. We are actively searching for a new venue, a new race route, new sponsors, and new volunteers. We are taking this opportunity to review our past races to reset and renew our standards and expectations of providing the Central Savannah River Area with the best fun-filled, Christmas-themed 10K road race with swag runners want and visibility opportunities for our sponsors that bring a return-on-investment. Most of all, we will continue to spread domestic violence awareness while raising funds for education and resources, turning victims of domestic violence into survivors.
If you have already registered for this year’s Jingle Jam 10K, you should be receiving your refund notification shortly. We know that Jingle Jam 10K’s longevity is solely based on the local running community’s support of our race and our mission. We are humbled and honored by how the CSRA running community has embraced us since 2011, so as a thank you, our Race Director will be sending those of you who registered a small gift in the mail before Christmas.
Even though we have canceled our race, our fundraising efforts remain steadfast. Jingle Jam 10K will continue to receive donations on behalf SafeHomes and present it as a gift from our Jingle Jammers at the end of the year. Please continue to stand with us fighting to end domestic violence. We will be sending out the link to donate in the next coming weeks. Thank you for being the reason that we do this every year, Jingle Jammers.
We will see you again soon. We promise.
Goldei, Carrie, Beth, Hilary, Nassab, Kelsey, and Naomi