Reaction to San Diego-based Competitor Group’s recent decision to abruptly cancel its U.S. elite athlete program continues to heat up.  First, a scathing article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Competitor Group Cuts Elite Support for Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. Then yesterday Boulder Running Company cancelled last night’s Rock `n` Roll registration portion of its weekly community fun run after store co-founder Mark Plaatjes was alerted to the extent of the CGI decision by Boulder Wave running agent Brendan Reilly.
Original announcement about the registration party:
Greetings!Don’t miss the party this Wednesday Night at BRC! Rock `N’ Roll Denver will be with us offering discounted race entries, free t-shirts to those who register at the run, and more! Olympian and race director Alan Culpepper will be on hand for a post-run Q&A. Plus try products from Brooks, Ultimate Direction, 2XU and Tom Tom!  The run begins at 6 PM and all are welcome (including kids and dogs!). Great raffle items and post-run refreshments from Savory Cuisines Catering and Avery Brewing Company are here every week!See you soon!  Your friends at BRC

“The new owners (of BRC) don’t follow the sport like we do,” said Boulder Running Company co-founder Mark Plaatjes, who still oversees the three stores for Denver-based Running Specialty Group.  “I had told them about the prize money being eliminated, but we didn’t know the particulars about them (CGI) cancelling the (Half Marathon) Grand Prix Series and Philadelphia’s elite competition at the last minute until Brendan explained it.  That’s not right, and we wouldn’t support that.

“This is a community-based store,” continued Plaatjes, “and this community is involved in the elite side of the sport.  So I called (Running Specialty Group), and they responded immediately, and said they would support whatever the community wants.”

BRC store manager Greg Welch; Brooks rep Kent Adamson; buyer Henry Guzman; sales associate Sarah Rebick; and RnR Denver race director Alan Culpepper at Boulder Running Company
BRC store manager Greg Welch; Brooks rep Kent Adamson; buyer Henry Guzman; sales associate Sarah Rebick; and RnR Denver race director Alan Culpepper at Boulder Running Company

Plaatjes remains the sole American to win the World Championship Marathon (Stuttgart, 1993). He and fellow South African native Johnny Halberstadt co-founded the Boulder Running Company in 1996.  When Halberstadt wanted to retire this year, the two sold the three BRC stores to the Gart brothers at Running Specialty Group, which now co-owns some 60 running specialty stores around the country.

While the marathon registration element was eliminated from last night’s program, RnR Denver race director, two-time Olympian Alan Culpepper, was invited to field questions regarding “why CGI would do such a thing”, as Plaatjes put it.

“Lots of questions, not a lot of great answers,” he reported after the session.

The sport was caught off guard by the CGI decision to axe its U.S. elite athlete program two weeks ago. The reaction has run the gamut from ire to understanding.  And we can be fairly certain it hasn’t run its course as yet.  Stay tuned.



  1. i trust and believe in Mark Plaatjes,he has been so loyal to the sport and it’s fans.
    keep up the great work,Mark.
    louie tieman

  2. Jeff,

    I have just received a text message from RnR Denver race director Alan Culpepper who reiterated your position that the RnR Denver promotion at the Boulder Running Company Wednesday night had, in fact, not been cancelled. Then I called and spoke again with BRC co-founder Mark Plaatjes who confirmed the basic accuracy of my post and the intent of the store. Yes, while a few people may have signed up for the Denver RnR event Wednesday night, the original intent was to promote the event more heavily and try to sign 100-200 people.

    But because the CGI decision to scale back their elite athlete program came on such short notice in relation to the BRC community event, it was too late to cancel the thing altogether. Instead, BRC owners, Running Specialty Group (RSG), decided to keep open the store’s invite to Alan to come run and field questions (of whatever type).

    Mark Plaatjes said Daily Camera reporter Mike Sandrock, as well as seven or eight others asked Alan specifically about the CGI situation, and Alan repeated what CGI had previously stated, that the decision was made to transfer funds from elite racing side to focus on the mass-participation side.

    “But it was supposed to be a much bigger event,” said Plaatjes.

    I hope you had an enjoyable night at the store, and are keeping as dry as possible.

    1. Thanks Toni. BRC does do a lot for the community and treats many runners (elite and non elite) very nicely in Boulder. Alan did have a good talk and speech and was very up front with Sandrock.
      I think they got a little lucky in the fact that it started to rain around 5:30 that night (with the group run starting at 6pm) so the event shrank anyway. Still about 60ppl which is small for their normal run.
      I think it is a bit of a catch 22, while Plaatjes used to be a Pro runner, he feels for the elite just trying to scrape by. But then again, BRC did just sell themselves to the Galt company and is in turn a business that needs to make money. One of the money making things is to promote races like RnR.
      Sun is finally coming out in Boulder after 48hrs of constant rain. Hudson’s group even made it to the track today so the ladies racing in October can keep on getting faster. The normal BRC wed night run loop is now closed and will be for some time.

    2. The event was smaller because it had been raining basically all day and the town was beginning to flood by 6 p.m., not due to any intent on the part of BRC.

  3. I was at the event Wednesday night. BRC didnt cancel anything. They promoted RnR Denver and even offered a discount and free tee shirt if you registered in store that night.

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