Some still owed Malibu Marathon refunds

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The organizer says he has returned most of

the money. He is still trying to work with the city to make the marathon a reality.

By Troy Dove/Special to The Malibu Times

Months after the Malibu Marathon was postponed, some runners are still awaiting a refund of their registration fees.

The Malibu Marathon, originally scheduled to take place in December, was postponed after the sponsoring organization, Malibu Marathon LLC, headed by Glen Steele, was unable to obtain city approval. The organization needed the city approval in order to obtain the permits it needed from the California Department of Transportation to close a portion of Pacific Coast Highway on the day of the race.

Those who signed up for the event were offered refunds for the $90 paid for the full marathon and $65 for the half-marathon and bike tour. Registrants could also choose to have their money transferred to the Orange County Marathon or be held for a possible future Malibu Marathon. Daryl Howland of Redondo Beach said he is still waiting for the refund he said he requested in October 2004.

Active, the organization responsible for collecting the marathon registration fees, issued a refund form, via e-mail, to registered participants in October. The form said “fill it out and e-mail it back, and we would start immediately accommodating all,” Howland said.

Two weeks after Active contacted participants, Steele sent out an additional e-mail refund request form. Howland said Steele wrote in his e-mail that “we [Malibu Marathon LLC] are in the process of handling all requests” and “you should get notification [of the request] within the next two weeks”

Howland said he never received notification of his request from either Active or Steele. Howland also said he received no other e-mail correspondence from either entity after an e-mail from Steele on Oct. 27, asking if he wanted to transfer his registration fee to the Orange County Marathon.

Howland said he contacted Steele a few times by telephone regarding the matter, but still hasn’t received the refund. “[Steele] said he’d be able to cut me a check and have it to me by the end of next week,” Howland said. “That was about a month ago.”

Howland is not the only participant having a problem obtaining his refund. Malibu Parks and Recreation Director Paul Adams said he knows there have been a few other complaints that people haven’t received refunds they’ve requested, but he said he wasn’t sure of the exact number of complaints received.

The city of Malibu may be able to do little in regard to assisting participants in retrieving their refunds. Adams said since Malibu never became an official sponsor of the marathon, it couldn’t force Steele to refund the participants. “Unfortunately, the city doesn’t have any real recourse other than trying to work with him [Steele],” Adams said.

In response to the complaints that the city has received, City Attorney Christi Hogin issued a letter to Steele on Feb. 3, urging him to comply with the refund requests. Steele said he spoke with the City Manager’s office last week, and told them the money was being refunded.

“Most of the refunds have already been sent,” Steele said. “It’s been an ongoing process over the past couple of months.”

In spite of the refund complaints, Steele is still working with the city in hopes of hosting a marathon in Malibu. Steele said he had no time frame for when the new marathon might take place.

Steele was originally working with Tony Griffin, son of Merv Griffin, as a co-organizer for the marathon, until Griffin dropped out over disputed reasons.

The city plans to submit a list of terms to Steele and Griffin no later than Feb. 23, which the two will use to draft a new proposal for the marathon. It is not know whether Steele and Griffin plan to work together or separately on the new proposal. Regardless, the two will have one month to respond to the city with either a joint proposal or two separate proposals.

“We’re going to give them some of the terms we’re looking for,” Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich said. “They’ll have to come back with a proposal that meets those needs.”

Conley Ulich said she would like the city to receive a larger portion of the proceeds than originally promised by Steele, who planned to donate 10 percent to 12.5 percent of the net proceeds to five local charities and the city.

“It will have to be beneficial for the community for the city to enter into a joint venture with either party,” Conley Ulich said.

The money that the city would receive from the marathon would be used “to acquire land for recreational use,” promote physical fitness and health in the community and perhaps even provide a safe pedestrian and bike path through Malibu, Conley Ulich said.

Conley Ulich said it is now up to Steele and Griffin as to whether the marathon will take place in Malibu. The new proposals are due by mid-March.