Pink Ribbon Investigation – Dirty Girl Mud Run 

For those of you that don’t know me in real life, I’m another one of those running obsessed assholes 🤘. I’ve been a hardcore runner for the majority of my life. So when my friend mentioned a race she wanted me to research for this week’s Pink Ribbon Investigation I was excited because it gives me an excuse to talk about running in public. Yes!

My friend’s mother-in-law is interested in registering for the Dirty Girl Mud Run race series. She heard that the company donates money to breast cancer charities, but wasn’t too sure about the other details.

If anyone is just waking up to the year 2017, yes people are willing to pay money to run through mud. I know, I was one of them once 😂. The Dirty Girl Mud Run race series, produced by Human Movement Management, is essentially a 5K race and obstacle course that, you guessed it, includes mud. I think mud runs are a little ridiculous, but hey, who am I to judge, you do you if that’s your thing.

Anyways, I visited the company’s website, and at initial glance I see a lot of photos of women with faces caked with mud wearing t-shirts with pink print on them, but no indication as to an affiliated breast cancer charity. I reviewed the company’s ‘About,’ ‘Store,’ and ‘FAQ’s’ sections on the website, but no breast cancer charity is listed. I then went on their Facebook page and looked over their information, but nada.

A few days later I decided to give their website another go ahead. After another few minutes of slight aggravation, I found on the bottom right of the webpage a tab for press. Sure enough, there was a press release that the company released in 2015 about its exclusive national partnership with a breast cancer charity non-profit organization called Bright Pink. 

Bright Pink is a non-profit organization that empowers and educates young women between the ages of 18 – 45 that are considered at risk for breast and/or ovarian cancer. In case you’re curious, on Charity Navigator Bright Pink has a cumulative score of 89 out of 100, so they’re a decent charity to donate money to in terms of their legitimacy.

The Dirty Girl Mud Run press release said the following: 

In celebration of Dirty Girl Mud Run event series, Human Movement is proud to donate $50,000 to Bright Pink to fuel the organization’s life-saving breast and ovarian health programs. Race participants will be offered the opportunity to make an additional $5 donation to Bright Pink upon ticket purchase online. Dirty Girl participants will have the ability to create their own teams or to individually fundraise to benefit Bright Pink. Through their contribution and these added fundraising opportunities it is Human Movement’s goal to continue to raise valuable funds throughout the entirety of the series…

Bright Pink…will be on-site at all stops of the 2015 Dirty Girl Series. Bright Pink volunteers will reach tens of thousands of women to encourage education and involvement in Bright Pink initiatives. Additionally, Team Bright Pink members will participate in each run.

Well, none of that is inherently bad. But here’s the biggest takeaway from that press release, the Dirty Girl Mud Run will only be effective in donating money to Bright Pink if you, the runners, AKA the consumers, make the conscientious choice to donate to Bright Pink. If you want to donate to Bright Pink, either you have to make an additional $5 during the checkout f your Dirty Girl Mud Run race registration or donate money to the charity on your own. The race series will give you ample opportunity to donate, but you have to do it at the end of the day.

There seems to be a lapse of information on the race’s website about updates in 2016, although the Bright Pink website indicates they partnered with a Dirty Girl race in August 2016. In 2017, there are a few races sporadically scheduled, but no new press releases have been issued. However, when I look at the individual races listed on the website, as well as the race series’ Facebook page, it appears that each local race chooses their own affiliate breast cancer charity sponsor. For example, the Copper Mountain, Colorado location chose Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC) as their charity partner. And the Killington, Vermont location chose Susan G Komen New England as their partner.

How did local affiliate races gain autonomy over which breast cancer charity organizations they choose for partnerships? I don’t know. I emailed the parent company Human Movement Management on Monday but I haven’t received a reply yet. I’m going to try a different email address tomorrow and if I receive an update I will certainly post that to the blog. But as usual, I’m left with more questions then I had when I started.

Cause-related marketing is messy. There is an assumption that as long as the company has a reputation of working with a charitable organization, they’re legitimate. But, that’s definitely not always true. The Dirty Girl race series does a poor job of notifying race participants about the nature of their breast cancer charity partnerships. I’d be willing to bet that there are people out there who think that by participating in the event, they are donating money to a breast cancer related charity, when in actuality they may not have donated a dime at all. And the reason they didn’t donate is because the guidelines for how to donate aren’t clear and intuitively accessible online. Or maybe they are donating money, but they are unclear as to which organization they are donating money to.

Here are my final takeaways:

Is the Dirty Girl Mud Run series donating their money to breast cancer related causes? Yes.

Can I prove it? Barring any shady accounting on their end that I can’t access, yes I can reasonably prove it.

Would I recommend donating money through a Dirty Girl Mud Run race? Only if you do your homework. The race series isn’t going to donate the money for you. And as a potential participant, you have to take the responsibility of researching the partnering charitable organization affiliated with your local event. If you trust the organization and have the motivation to raise the money, then go do your mud run, you filthy animal.

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