Apologies to my readers if you’re tired of my writing on Dave English and the NJ Liberty Run Marathon. This post is a better version of the my previous post (better writing and more info). If you’re bored with this, you can stop reading now. If you’re fascinated by the train wreck, then go on reading. My sources are the 2013 NJ Liberty Run Marathon Facebook page, comments from other participants, the 2013 NJ Liberty Run Marathon brochure, a thread in the LetsRun.com forum, and several emails between Dave English, Ilya, and a few other parties.
Dave English, a former US Marine, decided to organize the inaugural NJ Liberty Run Marathon and Fleet Week Festival. This multi-day event would consist of a marathon (including wheelchair cyclist race), half marathon, 5K, concerts, and other activities.
The original conception of the NJ Liberty Run Marathon and Fleet Week Festival is a massive undertaking that would require formidable work, cooperation among various agencies, and organizational skills. Considering that English has no prior experience in organizing a road race of any kind, much less an event such as this, taking on this task appears to be a foolish one. English has participated in a 610 run from North Carolina to New Jersey with other Marines, but from the article it appears as if English was not involved in the logistics of the run. So I don’t know if English has any kind of experience at all in organizing an event.
English, the Liberty Run Marathon site, and the brochure claim that the Liberty Run Foundation is a 510(c)3 non-profit organization. The Liberty Run Foundation is not listed in the IRS site as an exempt organization. I checked for both South Carolina, where English resides, and New Jersey. Michelle Hamilton and Scott Douglas of Runner’s World reported on this fact too.
According to the brochure, the proceeds from this event was “going directly into the New Jersey communities where it is needed the most.” This same information (and wording) can be found their the Liberty Run Marathon site. The listing of the charities on the brochure and website differ. On the Liberty Run Marathon site, the charities that would be supported are Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, Fisher House (another organization helping the military and their family), The Injured MarineSemper Fi Fund, USO, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Friends of Liberty State Park, and Community Food Bank of New Jersey. Out of the eight charities listed, only two would directly connected to New Jersey. On the brochure, more NJ charities are listed. I do not know if these other charities were added after the website had been created and site was not updated, or if Liberty Run Foundation no longer plans on supporting those organizations. It is unclear exactly which organizations would have benefited from the proceeds.
The message of supporting local NJ organizations and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy and the list of military and NJ charities and organizations is also confusing. I’m sure the organizations and charities helping the military and their family are fine organizations that do important and critical work, but the brochure advertises that the proceeds will help NJ communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. The brochure did not say anything about supporting the military as well. From the brochure and from parts of the site, participants would get the impression that local New Jersey organizations would be the sole beneficiaries of the proceeds. Whether this would actually be true is not clear based upon the listing of charities on the site.
Also from the brochure, the Liberty Run Foundation claims that they had been supporting Statue of Liberty-Ellis Foundation, Liberty State Park, and the surrounding Hudson County community for “many years.” I don’t know how true this is. There are two records of a $5000 donation to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Foundation in 1985 and a $92 donation to Liberty State Park in 2013. It bears checking out whether Liberty Run Foundation has given other donations in the intervening years. I doubt anyone will be able to find anything. I
discovered this thread on the LetsRun forum (Liberty Run Marathon Cancelled), where runners were complaining about cancelled races. Someone called “The Organizer” responded to some of the runners’ complaints and comments. I’m assuming that the “The Organizer” is Dave English. Interestingly, The Organizer says that receipts for donations can’t be provided because “many of the donations [they] made are annonymous [sic] cash donations.” Convenient. Charities are supposed to keep track of their spending in their report to the IRS. The public needs this information in order to see how much they spend on overhead compared to how much they fundraise.
But what I’m most struck by is English’s complete and utter lack of willingness to accept responsibility for accepting his failure and his hubris in his assertion that he has done nothing wrong. Time and time again he lies (or is in denial). If you talk to him, everything wrong that happened is not his fault. Rather it’s extenuating circumstances or other people who won’t work with him to find a solution. When the marathon and half marathon was cancelled, English blamed the city and the on-going construction along the course route. However, Jersey City denies this and states that it was English’s incomplete permit application that forced the races to be cancelled.
Also, in the LetsRun forum, Dave (or at the very least The Organizer) claimed to have spoken to Mary Wittenberg who gave him the advice that it was okay to not refund the runners’ race fees because the money was going to charity. Yesterday I tweeted Wittenberg asking her to confirm that she has spoken to English and gave that advice. I haven’t heard from her, but I will update if I do hear from her.
At Liberty State Park, English spoke with Sinthya about the 5K cancellation. Sinthya commented on one of my posts, “He was telling me that “they” I assume meaning the city or Park police had “called” the race bc of the weather since the park was supposedly destroyed last year during a mud run in similar rainy conditions.” This contradicts what Ben was told by a race official that there was no permit for a race at Liberty State Park, so there will be no race. Ben did a little bit of research and found this information on getting a permit for special events at Liberty State Park. In order to have an event, a permit must be filed 90 days before the event is to take place and everything (insurance, fees, signing) needs to be completed 30 days before the event. The races and the concerts were supposed to have taken place in Jersey City around Exchange Place. On May 14th, when the marathon and half marathon were cancelled, English declared that the 5K and post-race concert were going to take place in Liberty State Park, 11 days before the events were supposed to take place. There’s no way English was going to get a permit approved in this short a time frame. Rather than accept responsibility and admit that he messed up, he’s blaming the rainy weather. English said that he can’t have the race because the city or Park cancelled the race.
The only mud run in Liberty State Park that I know about was the Original Mud Run that was held on July 1, 2012. According to Historical Weather, the weather that was hot (average temp of 84, with a high of 94 with 0 precipitation). Giving English the benefit of doubt, I searched the site for what the weather was like up to five days prior to July 1st. The weather was warm with no rain. Not a single drop. English’s excuse that that rainy weather during a mud run destroying Liberty State Park is looking more feeble.
The day before English cancelled the marathon and half marathon, he sent an email to a participant denying that the races were cancelled. In the email he gave no hint or clue that anything was amiss. A couple days before the 5K, English cancelled the concert but didn’t inform any of the racers of this. He continued to say through Facebook that the 5K was going to happen.
I can’t begin to comment on the number of falsehoods in that email. Ben was there on Saturday from about 8:30. He did not see any sponsors, vendors, or timing equipment. It wasn’t raining in Liberty State Park when Ben arrived at 8:30 am. It wasn’t raining while Ben was there waiting. It wasn’t raining when Ben left after 9 am. The 5K was canceled before 9:30 am. I have time stamped text messages from Ben as evidence.
The organization of the event spelled out fiasco from the beginning and a few people from the running community in Jersey City expressed their concerns. The sheer level of incompetence is unbelievable. If English intended to commit a scam, he couldn’t even do a good scam because this was so messed up. I have a hard time believing that he is a member of the US Marine because he certainly has demonstrated that he can’t make good decisions or take responsibility.
All I can say about dealing with Dave English is BEWARE. I do not trust one thing that comes out of his mouth.