GREEN BAY - Hundreds of people signed up to run the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon this spring are being told to pay up or sit out this year's race.
Race organizers say about 300 people inappropriately used a discount code, giving them up to half off their registration fee. The discount is meant for only the employees and families of the race's major sponsors.
The amounts of the discounts vary, but race organizers tell FOX 11 it adds up to several thousand dollars. It is money that is supposed to benefit area charities.
With a little more than 12 weeks to race weekend, 8,255 people are already registered for marathon events.
Race organizers say about 3% of the runners used the sponsor discount, despite having no apparent affiliation with the six sponsors the discount is designed for.
The sponsor discounts are available for Cumulus Broadcasting, Eastbay, Festival Foods, Green Bay Press Gazette, Prevea and Wisconsin Public Service.
Marathon organizers declined to do an on camera interview, but said in a statement, "Although the number of registrants who did this was small, the dollar total was significant enough to merit a response."
Organizers go on to say, "We sent emails to these registrants asking them to verify their affiliation with the sponsor or pay the balance owed."
Depending on what day the person signed up, the half-marathon fee ranges from $60 to $95. The marathon fee starts at $75 and goes up to $110. For those two races, a sponsor discount could be up to $55.
The marathon's statement said, "The vast majority of them have done the right thing and paid the balance. Some have not yet responded and will be contacted by phone over the next two weeks to resolve the matter."
The charities benefiting from marathon proceeds this year are Junior Achievement, Unity and Big Brothers-Big Sisters.
"I would say that it's a very big help," said Todd McPeek, the executive director of Big Brothers-Big Sisters.
McPeek says the affiliation with the marathon creates extra exposure for Big Brothers Big-Sisters. He says the event's donation also gets put to good use.
"Some of the funds from the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon will go toward the waiting list as far as these youth and process to be matched and other funds will go toward hopefully enriching our program," said McPeek.
Marathon officials did tell FOX 11 the discount codes were multi-use and weren't hard to crack. They also admit it was basically an honor system with sponsor employees.
This issue comes a year after the marathon was canceled midway through the race. Organizers called it off because of high temperatures and several runners dropped out with heat related issues.
The year before that, after the completion of the 2011 event, organizers admitted the course was too long. They said it was about 800 feet too long because of a routing error.
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