F*** OFF YOU AMATEUR! Why I'm Never Racing Your Races Again

The last week has been one of the most disappointing I’ve had in a long while. An ultrasound on Thursday revealed what I’d known deep down for over a week – my calf is torn. Again. Despite hours of diligent prehab and rehab and hundreds of dollars spent on injury prevention I am staring down the barrel of more time off running and more disappointingly, time off racing.

The frustration of another injury was heightened by having to unpack my race kit that had been laid out in preparation to race in Huskisson this Sunday. It was set to be my first race back after a year off with injury and a great opportunity to get back to racing while catching up with some friends and supporting a local event.

Unfortunately, my recent injury setbacks have given me more experience in withdrawing from races than I would’ve liked and although my experiences have been nothing but pleasant with EVERY race offering me a refund, an entry, or my choice of either, yesterday my experiences changed. After emailing the race politely asking about the possibility of a refund or an entry to next year’s race my response from a member of staff was..

‘there’s nothing I can do, it’s too late to do anything, I’m very sorry to hear about your calf.’

My frustrations from this email response didn’t come from not receiving a refund or an entry to next year’s race. I was well aware the race was in two days and I was likely pushing my luck but history in dealing with race withdrawals due to injury told me that if you ask politely, races will support their athletes. In this case I was wrong.  What annoyed me about the email was the fact that there was no reference to a withdrawal policy and I was told it was too late to do anything despite being extremely aware that races can offer comped race entry at any point. With that I penned the email below.

“Hi (Athlete Services),

I understand if you have no desire to help your athletes out but it certainly is not too late for an entry to be comped for next year. As a professional athlete relying on all the help I can get to receive such a response after trying to support local races such as Husky.

James Thorp”

What followed was the most embarrassingly unprofessional email and phone call I have ever experienced. The email in question came directly from the race director and company owner and first linked me to the results page on my own ‘self-made’ website telling me to rethink my status as a professional triathlete given my lack of ‘credible’ results further stating that he could name hundreds of humble age group athletes with better results than me.

This slap in the face was then backed up by demanding an apology to the senior staff member telling me to never race one of their races again until I had done so. It was signed off with the following..

“And yes, your email does make me a little annoyed, so no apologies for my current tone.” 

Feeling like I’d been kicked when I was down and lost for words at the personal attack I picked up the phone and called the race director to sort out our issues like the adults I assumed we both were. What I was greeted with was “F*** off you f***ing amateur.” The call continued with a barrage of vulgar language with me unable to get any word in before being given one final “f*** off” and being hung up on.

Boiling with rage I contemplated drastic action each of which I was talked out of by my partner, Grace who was much more level headed at the time. I chose to express these events in a blog post as this behaviour is absolutely unacceptable and I deserve an opportunity to express my side of the story. It is abuse, bullying and under no circumstances should it be tolerated in sport or in life. 

This race company will not have to worry about seeing me racing or supporting any of their events in the future. When I choose to support local races, it will be with companies that support and respect their athletes. I urge everyone to do the same.