Mud Immortal participants consult police, lawyers

Tara Bradbury
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‘We wouldn’t have touched it with a 10-foot pole’: minister

Three days after the Mud Immortal event, the backlash is continuing — and a number of participants say they have contacted police and lawyers about taking legal action against its organizer, Jonathan Brett.

Mud Immortal organizer Jonathan Brett speaks to participants before the event Saturday at Butter Pot Provincial Park. — Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

They believe it’s a matter of fraud, and they are asking for Brett to either refund their money or donate it all to charity.

“We need to look into a class-action suit, if only to prevent others from taking advantage of people in the future,” participant Colette Phillips told The Telegram.

“I think participants would be happy if all the profits went to charity, but something should be done.”

Local lawyer Ches Crosbie, whom a number of participants said they had contacted, said Monday he will not pursue a class-action case.

“Reports of Mud Immortal suggest that the promoter over-promised and under-delivered. However, a class proceeding may be too expensive for the amount of money involved, and there is doubt as to whether the promoter could pay the damages,” Crosbie wrote on his website.

He suggested participants who suffered serious injuries, like broken bones, may have worthwhile individual claims to which insurance may respond.

Mud Immortal was billed on its website as an adventure challenge in Butter Pot Provincial Park with eight obstacles, most of them involving mud, with a “kitchen party” complete with food vendors, a barbecue, beer and other beverages and live entertainment afterwards, as well as prizes for the fastest times and best costumes. The event was a money-making venture, but Brett told The Telegram the day before it happened he would be handing a portion of the registration fee, 100 per cent of the beer sales and a $5 fee for a shuttle bus to Butter Pot from St. John’s to the Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. As well, he said, he had partnered with the Salvation Army, and bins would be onsite to collect donations of muddy clothes and footwear after the race, which he would have professionally cleaned and donated.

A total of 5,134 people registered for the race, paying between $70 and $90 each. Dozens of them have contacted The Telegram to share their disappointment. Hundreds have posted on the Mud Immortal Facebook site to express their anger, as well as on a separate site created specifically for the purpose.

Among their complaints are a 2.5-hour wait in a lineup to register, a lack of parking, no timing chips, unsafe and shoddy obstacles — two of which actually broke and were taken out of commission — no barbecue or food of any kind, no prizes (apart from a participant medal) and boil-order drinking water provided without having been boiled. A promised shuttle at the finish line to bring participants back to the start was non-existent,  they said, and they were forced to make the 1.5-kilometre trek on foot. The $5 bus fee to the park wasn’t collected, and there was nowhere visible to donate clothes, they said.

There wasn’t even any mud, many of them said, except for the case of two obstacles. The rest saw participants jumping, hanging, crawling and climbing over gravel, and a number of injuries were reported.

Brett, a local businessman, had remained silent about the issue until 10:30 Monday night, when he issued a media release.

“I would like to extend my sincere apologies to each and every participant who found that the first Mud Immortal Challenge did not meet their expectations,” the statement read. “I fully recognise that there were problems with the Mud Immortal Challenge and sincerely regret that the event was not all that everyone hoped it could be. While some of those problems were completely beyond our control, we fully appreciate the frustration being expressed by some participants and have learned many valuable lessons which will improve the organization of all future events.”

Brett said he will fulfil his commitments to charity. Clothing donated at the event is being cleaned and will be donated to the Salvation Army, and he plans to present to the Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador a “sizeable cash contribution,” he wrote.

He told The Telegram at the event the security team he had hired for the race had failed to show up, and a last-minute crew brought in had refused to handle parking. When it came to the timing chips, Brett said the Halifax company responsible had also fallen down on the job.

There had been at least two more obstacles planned, he said, but they had been destroyed by moose overnight.

GoodLife Fitness, a sponsor of Mud Immortal, said Monday it was disappointed in the results of the event.

“We are very sorry to hear reports that this event was poorly executed and that people were injured during the event,” said Callie McInroy, GoodLife Fitness’ Event and Sponsorship Specialist, in an email to The Telegram. “We strive to only partner with events that provide an excellent experience for participants and supporters and we believed that this event met our criteria when we were approached by the event organizer this spring. We are very disappointed to hear that this was not the case.”

 Shirley Lucas, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, said Monday afternoon Brett had contacted her earlier in the day and expressed his apologies.

“He’s made an indication that he is going to be giving us a donation, but the amount hasn’t been determined at this point,” she said, noting the organization had nothing to do with the production of Mud Immortal, but was just the named recipient of donations.

“Certainly we don’t like any bad publicity or anything that negatively reflects the society, nor do we want to be involved in things that can be harmful to the organization. Obviously there are a lot of unhappy people and that’s not a really good thing.

“I asked him to keep me informed of anything that transpires and what kind of donation it’s going to be, and hopefully that will be sometimes in the very near future. He was apologetic and said it was not his intent to do anything harmful to us, and I hope this situation is going to be rectified.”

Donations received by the society go toward programming for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their families, including education sessions and support groups.

Environment and Conservation Minister Tom Hedderson didn’t mince words when asked if government would have approved the use of Butter Pot Provincial Park for Mud Immortal, had it known what was going to transpire.

“We wouldn’t have touched it with a 10-foot pole,” he said. “We certainly had assurance from the organizer that everything would be in place: shuttle buses, proper security, water. This is an event that has been carried out successfully in other jurisdictions. About midday, we came to the realization that this organization did not have the safety and what we needed to have in place. Our rangers did as best as they could under the circumstances to ensure the safety of people, but we should never have been put in that situation.”

Hedderson said his department had approved the use of the ski trail in the park for the course, and was assured that participants would only be travelling on the area that was roped off. The trail has been used for other sports, he said, including skiing events and triathlons.

“With the lack of volunteers and security, things got out of hand with them using that, and there was some aspect of them having to go outside the marked trail, and that’s where the problems began. I’ve had an assessment done today, and thank heavens there’s no serious damage. We going to hold the organizer responsible for any damage or anything that’s out of the ordinary with regards to this event.”

Hedderson said he asked his department for a full review of protocols surrounding approval of such events, and he wants to make sure safeguards are put in place so a similar situation doesn’t happen.

A spokeswoman for the RNC did not have any information on any formal complaints made to police about Brett and Mud Immortal Monday afternoon, but advised individuals wishing to make a complaint to visit police headquarters and do so right away. Whether charges are laid or not will depend on an investigation into the incident and whether or not a criminal offense has taken place, she said.

To read Monday's related story, click HERE.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: The Telegram, Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, Salvation Army

Geographic location: Butter Pot Provincial Park, Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Diana
    October 01, 2013 - 10:03

    "We going to hold the organizer responsible for any damage or anything that’s out of the ordinary with regards to this event.” They damn better do that!! The numerous people who ran through the bog just to get some mud on them RUINED the bog. It is a disater & looked like it has been bombed!! I went out later that week for a walk to look at it and of the few pitcher plants that I could find they were all dead from being walked on.

  • Watching from afar
    September 27, 2013 - 10:32

    If the police or lawyers won't help there is a simple solution. Small Claims Court. Small claims can go up to $25k and many people can be a part of the same claim (not sure if there is an upper limit). So if you can organize enough people (200-300) and hire a paralegal to help coordinate then it will only cost a few dollars per person. Stop complaining and do something about it!

  • Matt
    September 24, 2013 - 14:17

    So, you mean to tell me, if I market that I'm holding a profit-for dance with a small amount of the money going to a charity, make a pile of promises about the things that will be in place, and then when the time comes and there's nothing there that I had promised, I can legally state: " sorry those aspects of tonight fell through, however we do have a few things, which clearly are subpar to your expectations, but regardless here they are". You mean to tell me; that's perfectly legal?

  • Matt
    September 24, 2013 - 14:16

    So, you mean to tell me, if I market that I'm holding a profit-for dance with a small amount of the money going to a charity, make a pile of promises about the things that will be in place, and then when the time comes and there's nothing there that I had promised, I can legally state: " sorry those aspects of tonight fell through, however we do have a few things, which clearly are subpar to your expectations, but regardless here they are". You mean to tell me; that's perfectly legal?

  • molly
    September 24, 2013 - 13:57

    I did not participate in mud mortal but I did do the notsincemoses run in novascotia this year perhaps they could learn from these people we paid 50.00 which gave us shuttle service for 10k to and from water along the way water and bananas when you finished and then we all received t-shirts our tags had timing tags then they served us hotdogsfries and soup they even had storage for everyones knapsacks after doing that and if I had done the mud mortal I would be pretty upset I don't understand what the problem is how hard can it be to comitt to what you say

  • Kes
    September 24, 2013 - 12:37

    Hedderson: " I’ve had an assessment done today, and thank heavens there’s no serious damage." Who did your assessment? The organizer? Did you see the path of destruction through all the marsh/bog. That will take years for it to repair itself. A few people crossing through it would have little detrimental impact, but 5000+? I think YOU, Hedderson, should go walk it and you will see for yourself! Government didn't care at the time they granted permission to use the park. Now they are pretending to. Typical.

  • Disgusted
    September 24, 2013 - 10:26

    I myself did not run mud immortal(thank god) due to the fact I found rainbow run so disorganized. Even though I wasn't involved in this race it disgusts me to think he may get away with this. If that's the case when we are hard up for a buck, why don't we create a fake event and charge a fortune to make a quick fortune. I guess cause most of us have morals, that's why. Something has to be done. I now question the money raised for rainbow run as well:(????

  • Kels
    September 24, 2013 - 10:20

    I'm not sure how he can say the damage is not serious... Bog & Marsh take years to fix themselves after that much trauma. The whole day sucked... I actually had some optimism that the course would be okay despite the traffic snarl, then the long wait to "register." By register I mean get my random number and cheap T shirt.

  • Jonas
    September 24, 2013 - 09:53

    Brett: 1. Post a supported list online outlining the expenses for the function. 2. Charity the remainder to the society and provide a tax receipt for each individual who participated 3. Issue a public statement begging for forgiveness. Based on the numbers you had registered you knew well in advance that you never had the resources to pull it off. 4. Always keep 'Mud Immortal' on your resume.

  • Ryan
    September 24, 2013 - 09:49

    I have no sympathy for the people who participated in this mud immortal. If you were stupid enough to waste money to play in the mud. Well I guess there's a sucker/idiot born every minute. Obvisiouly Ches crosbie thinks the same thing if he wants no part of a lawsuit. Considering the fact they signed waivers, leaves them with no libaliby to sue.

  • Grow Up!!!
    September 24, 2013 - 09:41

    Now it's the gonvernments fault???? This has very little to do with the government. This debacle of a "SH*T SHOW" has one person and one person alone to blame for the horrible experience people had. This person is Jonathen Brett. He has yet to explain no band, no water, no food, not enough volounteers etc.. He has taken very little resposibility for this mess. He is quick to blame everyone else but himself. A LARGE donation to the Alzheimer's society from Mud Immortal is too easy. Then he gets the tax write off and looks like the good guy. Every single person who paid their fees should get a tax receipt in their name. afterall, we are the ones who were doing this for charity. That is the honourable thing to do Mr. Brett. He speaks about "future events" and the "first mud immortals". I could be wrong but I am pretty sure this will be his first and last mud immortals being organized by this man.

  • SMD
    September 24, 2013 - 09:11

    "There had been at least two more obstacles planned, he said, but they had been destroyed by moose overnight." Now THAT is too funny!!!

  • Ryan
    September 24, 2013 - 08:59

    The event wasn't as promised, but the mob mentality of overreaction is sickening.

  • Donnie
    September 24, 2013 - 08:59

    I know I'd be p*ssed too, but is everything that goes wrong now a "Class Action Lawsuit". I mean seriously, give it a break people. OMG the media. Build a bridge, get over it.

  • Ann
    September 24, 2013 - 08:23

    Lawyers..ok people everyone knows you want money. Stop give up. Things happen, get over it.

  • Steve
    September 24, 2013 - 07:51

    As a participant I don't feel an apology is enough. We were all let down from the very beginning, and while the organizer/promoter can try to blame everyone else for falling down on the job, a lot of things didn't seem like they had a plan in the first place, much less have a contingency plan. We felt like complete suckers, for spending $60 to upwards of $90 for an entertaining event. Are we complaining too much? Should we have paid that much money for a trot in the bog? All the negative comments seem to think we want to be pampered while getting dirty, but it's much more than just being disappointed about what happened. Someone needs to be liable for the dangerous shoddy obstacles no-one should have ever used, the few participants who suffered injuries as well as the families and friends who were spectators, who all felt let down by someone offering no real answers, but flimsy excuses. This event was FOR PROFIT, with only some proceeds for non-existent services going towards the charity. I believe everyone who participated or watched the event feels the charity was let down, whether they eventually receive a donation or not. Personally I would rather have my money back and donate it myself than the organizer attempting to 'make good' with one of the broken promises, and get a big tax write-off in the process. The Alzheimer's society will get another donation from me as they're the ones who should've had the best success from all this.

  • Harvey
    September 24, 2013 - 07:48

    Utter fraud !! Regardless of what Hedderson says , gov't has to be held accountable as well. Oops...accountability in gov't ???

  • Don II
    September 24, 2013 - 07:44

    It appears that Minister Hedderson is trying to distance himself and his Department from this debacle. What due diligence did the Minister require of his officials? What legal liability for injuries and financial loss could attach to the Government? What written agreements were in place between the organizer of the event and the Department of Environment and Conservation which permitted the use of the Butter Pot Park? Will these documents be released unedited by Minister Hedderson for public review? It appears that this is not the first time that Minister Hedderson has been influenced by a promoter with a plan that involved propaganda opportunities for the Government! The problem is that these so called great ideas that so easily impress the Government always backfire in the end!

  • Barney
    September 24, 2013 - 07:06

    Where is Mr. Brett?