KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Hundreds of metro runners are still waiting for refunds from a racing company that cancelled on them just days before the big event. But in a FOX 4 Problem Solvers follow up, Problem Solvers discovered those refunds may never arrive. The company has taken down its website and shut its doors. Now former employees are speaking out about a boss they say was bad news.
"I feel like they forgot about us," runner Jordie Malcolm told Problem Solvers two months ago. She was talking about the organizers of the Neon Dash, a glow-in-the-dark foot race scheduled for Kemper Arena last August.
The race was cancelled a week before the runners hit the pavement. They were promised it would be rescheduled or they could get a refund. Neither happened. Now the company behind the race, Shoelace Events of Chandler, Arizona, has closed its doors.
Problem Solvers has learned that Kansas City runners weren't the only ones out money.
Races were also cancelled in Portland, Oregon, Austin, Texas, Atlanta and in San Diego. All were cancelled just days before they were to be held and after thousands had paid for registration, about $25 a person.
The company's owner, Austin Cash McKnight, consistently blamed equipment delivery problems for cancelled races, but three of McKnight's former employees told FOX 4 Problem Solvers that's not true.
Former employee Jason Ragland, who is also McKnight's stepbrother, said that McKnight cancelled races when not enough people signed up to justify the cost, not because of equipment issues, as was claimed.
Another former employee, who asked not to be identified, told us McKnight continued taking registration money from runners both in Kansas City and Portland, Oregon, even after deciding to cancel the races. A third employee said she lost faith in the company after McKnight failed to give a children's charity the $2,000 donation it had been promised for volunteering at a race in San Diego.
McKnight told Problem Solvers that none of the claims against him are legitimate and dismissed them as the ramblings of disgruntled former employees with a vendetta. He said the only reasons he continued collecting registration fees after races had been cancelled was because they were cancelled without his permission or knowledge.
As far as refunds, McKnight said he is filing for bankruptcy and does not know whether runners will ever get their money back.
Jenny Chronister, who issues racing permits for Kansas City, said the Neon Dash organizers never even purchased one, something they would have been required to have done 90 days in advance of the race.
"They actually hadn't even applied for it," Chronister said, although someone did call her office inquiring about a permit.
Chronister said Kansas City has tried to crack down on questionable out-of-state racing companies by requiring both a permit and a local contact person.
Chronister said runners should not sign up for races unless they are listed on the city's website www.kcraceday. Only races that have complied with city ordinances are listed on the site.
As for the Neon Dash, both the Missouri and Oregon attorneys general are investigating.
To check on complaints against a business or charity, click here for the Missouri Attorney General's website and look for the Consumer Protection tab.