Prospects dimming for the Moonlight Run
Updated 5:08 pm, Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The organizer of a long-running New Milford road race is facing some uphill snags.
A lack of permits, complaints about race refunds and sponsor withdrawals could derail this year's 18th annual Moonlight Run 5K, according to New Milford officials.
Police Lt. Larry Ash confirmed June 2 an investigation is underway into complaints from runners who paid money toward the race, originally scheduled June 3 but postponed tentatively until July 8.
Race founder and director Wallie Jahn rescheduled the date after he had been unable to get required permissions he needed to run the race at that time on the traditional Young's Field Road/Housatonic Avenue route.
The date change has apparently prompted the withdrawal of some local sponsors, and New Balance is no longer a major sponsor.
A message left June 2 for Mr. Jahn at his home was not immediately returned. His cell phone voice mail box was full.
Lt. Ash said he met June 1 with Mr. Jahn and intends to meet with him again June 8 but, to date, the race director still is missing the permits he must have before the police would give approval, which the Town Council requires to close the road.
Lt. Ash said Mr. Jahn did agree to provide refunds to those who complained through the police office.
The one permit request Mr. Jahn has filed to date is with the Parks & Recreation Commission, which is scheduled to meet June 14.
"I will do everything in my power to help Wallie overcome any obstacles he has to make sure it's a success," Lt. Ash said of the former downtown business owner. "But he has to do his part."
"This is not a town of New Milford or a police department race. This is a race Wallie is sponsoring," the police lieutenant noted. "If he does not get his (paperwork completed), I don't know how he can get his race to go off."
Mayor Patricia Murphy said she expected Mr. Jahn would be in her office the morning after last week's Town Council meeting.
At that meeting, he had announced the new race date and assured council members he would get the insurance certification and other town approvals required to vote to close the road for at least an hour after the race starts at 8 p.m.
"But I haven't seen him yet," Mayor Murphy said June 2.
The mayor also has fielded several complaints from those who have been denied refunds.
Some past runners say they are disturbed about the race planning and are now leery about future races.
"He (Jahn) told me that he did not have enough sponsors for the event and would not refund the entry fees and hung up on me. I was shocked," said runner Emmett Lee, who pre-registered with his wife, Jill, for June 3.
A Lee family vacation would interfere with the July 8 date.
In an email message, Mr. Lee wrote he has posted his saga about the local race on his Facebook account.
"Many are boycotting this and future events involving him or his company," Mr. Lee wrote.
Another pre-registered runner, Katherine Gannon, said she, too, has been denied a refund.
"I am very disappointed on how this situation has played out," Ms. Gannon said, "and will probably not participate in another race that his name is connected to (it)."
The Moonlight Run 5K has been a popular race in the area, at one point several years ago attracting a field of more than 1,00 runners and walkers.