Several Race2 participants are now facing threats of disciplinary action after failing to fundraise the required goal of £200 per person.
Race2 is one of the University’s most well-known charity events, challenging participants to hitch-hike from Scotland to Europe’s biggest cities, such as Madrid, Prague and Barcelona in previous years. In January 2019, racers were challenged to travel from either Edinburgh, Glasgow or Stirling to Munich, Germany with the aim of spending as little money as possible.
During this race, the fully student-run organisation raised a total of £45,000 with over 60 teams racing, all in aid of three chosen charities: Médecins sans Frontières, FifeWomen’s Aid and The Wave Project.
The Race2 committee outlines that in order to take part in the race, each person must raise a minimum of £200 over a course of five months, the entirety of which goes towards the three nominated charities without covering any costs of the race.
Michael Sheffield, Race2’s coordinator, told The Saint that the £200 fundraising amount is “a requirement of all the racers who participated in the race. Racers are made aware of this in every information meeting we hold and in the terms and conditions we require them to read when signing up. In putting their name down on their consent form they are agreeing to this.”
Angus Blakely, a fourth-year student who took part in the race this year, managed to raise £150 out of the £200 total through fundraising. Having not paid the remainder through fundraising, or out-of-pocket, Mr Blakely has found himself on the receiving end of emails fromRace2 which threaten him and seven other racers with disciplinary action.
The last email received by Mr Blakely warns racers that failure to respond to the committee with a plan for raising the £200 will result in their names being handed over to the disciplinary committee.
In response to being asked about the disciplinary threats, Mr Sheffield said, “Disciplinary action is only sought when a racer has not met their total and has not offered an explanation for this. Of the racers who participated this year only a handful have been warned of disciplinary action in the future.
“They have all been given a full week before Spring Break in which they could have met with the Race2 committee in person, and after this they have been given until 7 April to send an email to Race2 telling us of any plans to meet their total or explain extenuating circumstances that may exempt them from the requirement.”
Mr Blakely described his take on the situation to The Saint: “It seems unfair to threaten disciplinary action against people for not raising enough money for charity.”
Second-year racer, Zac Taylor, told The Saint that he did his best to raise£200 with events such as bake sales. In the end, however, Mr Taylor only reached £50 and claims that deadlines and other commitments meant that it was difficult to find the time to fund-raise. He expresses the same sentiment as Mr Blakely on the matter and stated that, “It is a bit ridiculous to punish people for not raising enough money for charity, especially when we’re paying for our accommodation and finding our own way there.”
It is unclear what specific measures will be taken against the racers, apart from their names being handed over to the Union Disciplinary Committee for consideration, which may result in fines or bans from the Union. Mr Sheffield reiterated that these consequences were stated in the race’s terms and conditions. Race2 have been accused of punishing those who do not come from a wealthy background.
“If you go through the top fund-raisers, a lot of them have really large sums of money donated from their family. I saw one with a £500 donation, others got £50 donations from their family, making it easier for them to fundraise,” said Mr Taylor.
Those who are not in a position to pay the difference between what they have raised and the target sum – £150 in Mr Taylor’s case – feel as though they are at an unjust disadvantage compared to participants from well-off backgrounds.
Both Mr Blakely and Mr Taylor told The Saint that they plan to ignore the committee’s emails as they are sceptical as to how much further action Race2 will take.
Mr Blakely also made claims of Race2 adopting a more lenient approach to this situation in previous years of the race, and that racers who raised “nowhere near enough” cash did not receive the same treatment.
Charlie Fraser, a fourth-year student who raced to Prague and Barcelona in 2017 and 2018, told The Saint that he raised somewhere over £100 during his time in the race and the committee never addressed this.
When signing up to the race, all racers are required to pay a £65 registration fee which covers two nights in a hostel when racers arrive, bus transport on the first day of racing, constant safety team support, a t-shirt, a racer pack, socials, sightseeing, a “Racer Party” and prizes for various competitions.
“As far as we were all aware, the price point [of £200] was set as a goal instead of a requirement to do the race itself, as all costs were covered with your £65 buy-in. It was never seen as though you were taking advantage of the race,” said Mr Fraser. Mr Taylor adds, “We all already paid £65 towards the hitchhike […]we don’t owe them [Race2] anything.”
Mr Fraser claimed that there was a large number of racers in previous years who failed to pay Race2 for their extra nights’ accommodation in the hostel once they had reached their destination and that the committee took no action, adding that it was “strange they’ve suddenly started to become [strict] like this.”
Whether or not the organisation have been consistent in their actions throughout the years, Mr Sheffield emphasised the vital role that fund-raising ultimately plays in Race2’s initiative.
“The £200 is entirely for our charities and is ultimately why we run this event each year. Getting to say you hitchhiked across Europe is awesome, but ultimately, we take the most pride in raising thousands of pounds for our charities each year.