Controversy is hitting the ultra-world right now, and everyone seems to be talking about it. Sean “Run Bum” Blanton is no stranger to being the center of attention for both good and bad reasons. But now, it seems he is in the hot seat for removing finish times from UltraSignup and replacing them with the “did not finish” categorization, or DNF.
If you are not familiar with the Run Bum, he runs a successful race company called Run Bum Tours, with races in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Just pop onto the website and you will see the level of popularity of these races, as several are already sold out. His races are so popular that he holds a lottery to enter several of them.
As a race director, Sean knows what he is doing. He puts on great events that leave people extremely satisfied with their experiences. Of course, there will always be those that have complaints to lodge, but the vast majority of feedback is positive, evidenced by the fact that he is able to sell out multiple events, months in advance.
Sean puts on good races that ultrarunners continuously enjoy. Not only are they enjoyable, but they are prestigious as well. The Georgia Death Race is a Western States qualifier, thereby a pinnacle event for the ultrarunning community.
The latest criticism is not centered around his RD skills, but rather around the fact that he allegedly altered finish times in UltraSignup. In an article posted on May 11th, the Marathon Investigator reported the following: “On Friday, May 1, Ashley Heclo noticed that her 2016 GDR result was changed to a DNF. She finished the race in a time of 24:05:32. This discovery set off a chain of events over the past week that led to more runners discovering that their results were altered and brought attention to other claims regarding the behavior of Sean “Run Bum” Blanton.”- Marathon Investigator Website
By the following day, two additional runners noticed their times had also been changed to DNF’s. The runners took to social media, calling for their results to be reinstated on UltraSignup. Sean issued a statement describing why he replaced their scores with DNF’s, alleging they were “dicks” to the volunteers, and thus violated a rule of the race. “He is justifying DQ’s based on his ‘Don’t Be a Dick’ Rule – basically this means that anyone that is critical of Run Bum risks a disqualification,” claimed the Marathon Investigator in his recent story.
This post was removed and an apology was issued, along with the runners’ results being reinstated on UltraSignup. In his story, the Marathon Investigator dives deeper into further alleged inappropriate behavior, but this story is really a focus on changing results.
This is my first-time hearing that an RD altered results, a scary act to runners that don’t often peek back at results from years ago. UltraSignup makes it easy to view your past race performances, but there are not many sites that record your finish times from every race you’ve completed. Not to mention, most of us don’t have memories that retain our finish times beyond our PR’s.
In a time where everything is captured and memorialized on the internet, including our finish times, we need to trust that RD’s are recording them accurately. Please don’t read this as a generalization – Most RD’s and timing companies would never alter a race result. However, it is not unlikely that a mistake could be made, and your time could be listed wrong.
I suppose the lesson here is to make sure you are checking on things that are important to you. If Ashley wouldn’t have checked on her 2016 time, the DNF may never have been discovered.