Star Wars Run 2020: Virtual Disappointment

It’s been quite some time since the Star Wars Virtual Run 2020 wrapped up and I’m only just now sharing my story.  The reason—my experience only concluded recently!  Here are the details.

TL;DR

I completed my race within the time period, organizer did not fulfill their obligation of sending the finisher’s entitlements, followed up several times, finally got it last week—after months of waiting.*

The reverse of the special 40K finisher’s medal.

Long Story

The Star Wars Virtual Run was originally planned for May 4th but due to the global pandemic was postponed towards the latter part of 2020.  I think it was actually a blessing in disguise for the organizers as they were able to extend their registration period by months!  I was actually a bit concerned if I’d be able to complete it as we were still in a lockdown at the time but I was able to gradually accumulate the 40K distance I signed up for.  But the more worrisome aspect of the race was actually not the lockdown—it’s the app they’re pushing.

Initially, the organizers wanted to use their app called MOVE to track participants’ runs.  Unfortunately, it does not work!  It was to be blatantly honest the worst app of any kind that I’ve ever tried in any platform as it really does not do anything.  Even logging in takes minutes and requires some luck to work.  Even a one-star rating would be a rating too generous for an app that doesn’t work and just occupies space on your phone.  I would understand if I was using an obscure version of Android, but I was using the latest iOS version at the time on an iPhone X and it still didn’t work!  I also had the latest Android version at the time in another phone and it too didn’t work there.  Eventually, after so many complaints from paying participants, they eventually yielded and allowed us to use other running apps.  We’re just provided a link where we can upload our runs for them to tally.  As of March 8, 2021, the MOVE app has a 1.0 and 1.7 out of 5 rating in the US and PH App Stores, respectively and 1.6 out of 5 rating in Google Play.

Ultimately, I completed the 40K.  While I saw my friends getting their confirmation, I was getting no acknowledgment of completion whatsoever from the organizers.  I had to email them to confirm if I’m still incomplete as per their tracking as on my end I completed more than that!  I did get a confirmation some time later and so the wait for my finisher’s entitlements started.

The reverse of the 40K dark side finisher medal.

Weeks passed, and then a few months, nothing.  But I saw some glimmer of hope as I see some of my friends start receiving their entitlements.  More weeks past, and then a few months, still nothing—so I followed up.  They mentioned that their shipment was affected by the pandemic—which was weird at that time because I was already receiving my shipments from abroad.  I can’t imagine Singapore being this miserable when handling shipment so something was off.  2020 ended with me not receiving any updates at all!

Sometime in January I received an email asking if I had received my entitlements.  I was glad to see an initiative from the organizers for the first time.  I mentioned that I still did not and sent my address just in case they misplaced my info.  Weeks passed, and then a few months, still nothing.  Until a few days ago I followed up again asking two simple questions: did they really send my entitlements and if so, where is it?  Soon after that, they responded with an email where I could track their shipment.  A few days later, I received it.

The dark side finisher’s medal. It comes with a stand so you can display it like a trophy.
And they also provided these bands so you can wear them as a medal. 40K finishers get an extra entitlement aside from the finisher medal based on which “side” you joined.

Side Notes

There’s really something off about this race even before it started.  I joined the race and paid for the entry fee with my own money because I really wanted to join.  I even promoted it on my blog for free.  When news broke out that the event would be moved, I shared it on social media.  And out of nowhere, I got an email coming from their PR agency in the Philippines asking to edit my post to change the words “postponed” to “delayed.”  They have a PR agency?!  And out of nowhere, they ask me to edit my blog post?!  It was a not a good way to introduce yourself so out of frustration I just removed all my post mentioning the event.  I was giving them free promotion and that’s what I got in return.

Was it because I joined the dark side?

Thoughts*

I was really excited to join this event as it’s the closest thing I could do to participating in an actual Star Wars Run.  I actually almost flew to Singapore just to join an actual Star Wars race had it not been for other priorities.  And I really envy Singapore for having these branded races we can only dream of in the Philippines.

The 40K additional finisher’s medal, regardless of “side.” This is a bit smaller though.
This is a proud symbol of what I was able to accomplish in 2020 despite the pandemic.

Singapore has a special place in my heart as a runner as I experienced my first world-class race there.  This was why it’s appalling that the worst race experience I would have to date would come from organizers based in that country.  Of course, I understand the challenges that the pandemic introduced but the way the event was handled was such a mess!  Some finishers received entitlements twice, some received theirs from Singapore to the Philippines via Germany, while I had to follow up several times and wait months just to get what I earned!  This being my first virtual race, it really broke the experience for me.  I’ve kept quiet for the longest time as I wanted to get closure before I share my overall experience.  Now I’m very hesitant to join events that they organize (especially if they require to use the MOVE app), which is quite unfortunate as they’re able to secure big brands for their races like the forthcoming Marvel Virtual Run.

On the good side though, the finisher’s entitlements were really good!  They’re much smaller than I expected (as they’re basically finisher’s medals with a stand), but nonetheless of great quality.  Running this event was my main motivator to get out and run in 2020 and had it not for this event, I may have had an absolute zero mileage for the last three quarters of 2020.

Yes, I joined the dark side.

Star Wars Virtual Run 2020 was organized by Singapore-based company, LIV3LY.


* March 2021 Update: It turns out that the entitlement issue was the fault of the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost) as they never sent a notice to claim when they received the package over five month ago.  You may read about it here.

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