OT: Big House Big Heart race cancelled

Submitted by JamesBondHerpesMeds on December 4th, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Strange decision by the Athletic Department on this one, especially given how popular the race had been over the past few years.  Anyone with more specific information on this?



Dear Big House Big Heart Participant, 



We apologize ahead for a lengthy email. It is with sadness that we announce that University of Michigan Athletics has decided that Big House Big Heart no longer fits into its charitable mission and therefore the race cannot finish in the Big House. At a meeting on Nov. 30 with two representatives of the Brandon Administration, Chrissi Rawak, Senior Assistant Athletic Director for Development and Rob Rademacker, Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities and Operations, we were told, "our decision was based on a several month long evaluation of our charitable work and relationships and need to streamline and organize those efforts. Unfortunately, the run doesn't fit into those plans."


We made it clear how much the race means to each participant, volunteer, committee member and the many charities (over 175) which count of substantial fund-raising from BHBH. We offered to give UM Athletics the race if they would continue to allow it to finish in the stadium. CFC was not made aware of any charitable assessment process. While we were advised BHBH would again be Spring Football Game Weekend, and of the rental price of the stadium, we had been waiting for several weeks for the final "OK" so that we could open registration and begin promoting the race, as well as helping non-profits build their fund-raising teams.

CFC has been very appreciative of being able to finish the BHBH race in the stadium these last 6 years and have been diligent to leave the stadium in better shape than when we entered. We know the extraordinary race finish has always been dependent on UM Athletics allowing access to the stadium and that priorities do change with administration changes.




If you wish to contact CFC about BHBH, please email [email protected]. If you have questions about the UM Athletic's decision, please contact them.




Your Champions For Charity Crew



December 4th, 2012 at 10:56 AM ^

Well lets see what the chose to do with their resources after this cancelation before we decide  to crucify the guy. If the athletic department can show that their dollar will go farther (in charitable terms) doing project X instead of Y, then they should do it. I understand that cancelling this event brings negative light and casts him as cheap, but maybe more good comes out of this than we can see...


December 4th, 2012 at 10:57 AM ^

RR made some decisions that paralelle this one.  You can state the case for RR making the wrong ones out of ignorance.  DB he has been around for a while and we cant use the same excuse......so what gives? Greed?

My question is how can you turn your back on a communitee in a situation like that?  Life isn't all about generating $$$$$$$$$$$$.  That is something that MICHIGAN has stood for look at Motts.


December 4th, 2012 at 10:58 AM ^

You do acknowledge that plenty of people are going to hear Creedence Clearwater Revival and say "why the hell are they playing that old fart '60s crap?" right?


December 4th, 2012 at 11:53 AM ^

When on my long runs I play about 20 CCR songs on my ipod.  Can't get enough CCR, great running music.

Very unhappy with UM's decision but am awaiting their response.  I was shocked that it was canceled out right and not simply altered.  But as another poster "staed", the BH is the attraction for a lot of the participants.  I'd still do it if it ended elsewhere.  I've been in the BH plenty of times.


December 4th, 2012 at 11:10 AM ^

I've been very critical of Brandon on this blog in the past, but we don't have any facts here other than The run has been discontinued (and perhaps that it was an athletic department decision). Automatically assuming that this is a money grab on the part of Brandon is ridiculous. 


December 4th, 2012 at 11:33 AM ^

But, but, but we've heard from one side of the story!  And it's from a CHARITY for God's sakes and everyone knows that Charity's are always honest, reputable, above-board and anything that's done that negatively impact Charities is almost like killing kittens.  And everyone knows already that Dave Brandon is always a mean, money-grubbing SOB who thinks nothing of the people and only cares about lining the athletic department's pockets.   What other facts do we need?

Rush to judgement shall we?


December 4th, 2012 at 11:58 AM ^

While I admit my cynicism is bottomless, I agree that we shouldn't be forming conclusions yet. We have to hear directly from Brandon or somebody in the AD with a better explanation than was alluded to in the BHBH letter. The PR clock is ticking.....


December 4th, 2012 at 3:16 PM ^

Don, do you work in PR? Legit question. You have multiple posts in this thread about Brandon having to answer the PR clock.  I would like to hear your reasoning on this if you are in PR.

I am heavily involved in corporate communications and I see this completely different than you. Always interested in shop talk when someone has a different take than I do.

State Street

December 4th, 2012 at 11:48 AM ^

If you think the Athletic Director of one of the largest and most visible universities in the country would cancel a charity event because of his desire to "create the future" or any other self interested reason, you are a fucking idiot.

turd ferguson

December 4th, 2012 at 12:40 PM ^

And... it turns out it was about private rentals, among other things (see the post below).

That partnership, Ablauf said, has become the department's priority. Ablauf said the run had become "a very challenging event... to fit into our stadium."

"We have our own private rental program, we're doing stuff with the special olympics and we have a lot of things we do now in the that stadium," Ablauf offered.

So in this thread, you've called one guy (who wasn't too far off from the truth) a "fucking idiot," constructed straw men for the majority of your arguments, and blindly suggested that this is probably about the charities being crooked.  Nice.

turd ferguson

December 4th, 2012 at 12:59 PM ^

I mean, Ablauf himself mentioned the private rentals first (before the Special Olympics).

Honestly, I'm sensitive to people who are quick to accuse charities of being corrupt (or argue that since some charity somewhere was corrupt once, none of them can be trusted).  Having worked with a number of charities in Ann Arbor - and Chicago, Los Angeles, and other places - I've seen a lot of evidence of good intentions and no evidence of indiscretion. 

To be fair, I'm probably taking it out on this guy a little more than I should.

Go Ugly Early

December 4th, 2012 at 12:17 PM ^



Associate athletic director Dave Ablauf, who handles media and communication for the department, said the run no longer fit into the department's charitable mission.

"Really the decision in the end came down to our external focus," said Ablauf. The department announced last monththat it would begin partnering with the Special Olympics of Michigan for community service efforts. The first event of that partnership is the "Polar Plunge" at Michigan Stadium on February 23, 2013.

That partnership, Ablauf said, has become the department's priority. Ablauf said the run had become "a very challenging event... to fit into our stadium."

"We have our own private rental program, we're doing stuff with the special olympics and we have a lot of things we do now in the that stadium," Ablauf offered.


December 4th, 2012 at 12:24 PM ^

Maybe there was one or two charities supported by the run that the AD disagrees with now, for some sort of political reason?  Does anyone have a list of what was supported by this?

For example - if the Boy Scouts were a recipient of money from the race, that might be viewed unfavorably by some in a city as liberal as A2 for their stance on homosexuals.  There could be a situation like that where there is a charity involved that is a hot potato and that is the problem.



December 4th, 2012 at 12:36 PM ^

Many different charities used this as a fund raising vehicle, although the actual proceeds from entry fees when to I think 3 different major charities (Mott Hospital, Cardiovascular Center etc) so I think it's tough to say that it was one or two bad players from a charity standpoint. 

Sounds like it was a financial/logistical issue with use of the stadium.


This is unfortunate - it was a great community builder. I was in charge of the pediatrics team for a couple years and got over 200 participants.  Would love to know the full story of this.




December 4th, 2012 at 2:18 PM ^

One of the primary attractions of this race is to finish in the big house that it just wouldn't be the same if it finished on the streets of town or on campus. It would take a big hit in numbers if it didn't finish there.






December 4th, 2012 at 1:02 PM ^


I just received this email. This was such a great event for the runners and the charities alike. Last year was my first year running and I was planning on making it an annual tradition.

If these are the types of decisions coming out of the Brandon office, I am very disappointed. I keep trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he keeps making it harder.

I will always be a Michigan supporter, but I really hope that our Athletic Department and University takes a good hard look at their priorities and what they are doing to support them.  



December 4th, 2012 at 2:09 PM ^

CHC is NOT a charity.  It is a business.  They collect the race fees and also a percentage of the donations that are raised online through their portal.  Although they allow charities to raise money for their own causes which is commendable.  As a long-time runner -- 30+ years, CHC races are poorly organized and managed (the recent Iron Turkey had some "mishaps".).  For those that track their times -- and I do, the BHBH course last year was short by about .2 mile.  They are spinning this cancellation.  And to schedule the Ann Arbor marathon in mid-June one week after the Dexter/AA run is a slap in the face to existing running events.  Did they ask for input from runners when planning the marathon or designing the course?  Who wants to run out by Briarwood for the most difficult part of a marathon with no shade?  


December 4th, 2012 at 2:22 PM ^

I didn't run with a GPS on last year but I did suspect the course was a bit shorter than a 10K when I beat my previous 10K best by 2:20.  

Best case scenario here is this is a dustup between CFC and UM and maybe another race coordinator can step in.  AATC took over DXA2, maybe if they took this race over too it could return?



December 4th, 2012 at 3:56 PM ^

Sometimes you don't follow the chalk exactly as it was measured out. Sometimes a runner will cut corners. I've run in many 5k's over the years with a GPS watch and very rarely do they come out as exactly 3.11 miles. Every time that I ran the BHBH run, I've actually ran over the 3.11 miles that a 5k should be. I always attributed to to the fact that you had to weave through the thousands of participants. To me, the course was hilly and long, so I didn't really use it as a measure of my running ability. It was what I call a 'funrun,' done solely for the enjoyment of running through AA and finishing in Michigan stadium, running through the tunnel.


December 4th, 2012 at 4:17 PM ^

the times that I ran this race, it was more like 3.2 for me. Of course, it does depend on your GPS and how accurate it is. I've brought this up with several race holders and they have all stated that their race is accurate and that the GPS is what is at fault...I don't know if that is true, though.