Race organizer strings along local charities and businesses

TRI-CITIES - A race organizer who is stringing along local charities and businesses. KEPR was the media sponsor for two races this year - the Tri-Cities Half-Marathon and the Columbia River Half-Marathon. Many people signed up for the race last month after hearing it would benefit the Union Gospel Mission. Until we started looking into this story, the charity hadn't seen a dime.

Hitting the pavement for a cause. It's what these runners expected. But that wasn't initially the case. At least until we began covering the story. It was like peeling back an onion. The more calls we made, the more people, companies and charities we learned were owed money by Dean Reinke.

"Is unfortunately bad business. At the end of the day, you owe money, you don't pay it, that's bad. You're ripping people off. That's not cool," said 'John.'

'John' didn't want to show his face on camera. But he acted as a fellow organizer for the Tri-Cities Half-Marathon back in February. KEPR was there as well as a media sponsor. Our anchors even handed out awards to the finishers.

"What you paid for was very low quality," said 'John.'

We also talked to "Mary" over the phone. She's helped run the past two marathons in the Tri-Cities. Mary says she never got paid for the work she did leading up to the Columbia River Half-Marathon.

"At that point, I started realizing that I probably wasn't going to see any money from this person," said 'Mary.'

But what really got people going was hearing the Union Gospel Mission hadn't seen a dime from the race. The Columbia River Half was prominently advertised as benefiting the charity. We confirmed The Tri-Cities Union Gospel Mission hadn't gotten any money. We called race organizer Dean Reinke. He denied any debts were owed. But within a few hours, Reinke forwarded the non-profit $225.

A fellow organizer told me it was a dollar for every runner. The Mission is happy for any donation, but many runners likely thought $75 entry fee included a much larger donation than a dollar.

"It was the straw that broke the camel's back. To take advantage of an organization," said 'Mary.'

We discovered it was a symptom of a larger trend. KEPR also confirmed several other unpaid debts tied to races organized by Dean Reinke. They include $550 owed to the local porta-potty company, Mighty Johns. Nearly a thousand dollars to the person who timed the local race. And one of the worst might be a retiree on a fixed income who says he printed t-shirts for Reinke last year and was never paid the $2300 bill. .

To get all sides of the story, we talked to Reinke over the phone several times. He refused to be recorded, but insists no one is owed anything. Needless to say, KEPR won't be affiliated with races involving Dean Reinke and the USRA Race Series. Let the buyer beware if another race comes to town.

KEPR also spoke to a race timer from the Vancouver, Washington area. He's the person who referred Dean Reinke to the elderly t-shirt printer who is still out thousands. Russ Zornick told KEPR he offered to time two different races for free under the condition that the t-shirt printer get paid the money he's owed. But Russ says Dean Reinke never took him up on the deal.

The next race planned by Reinke is set for February in Richland. The city told us it plans to make special contract arrangements. They'd be wise to do so.

The City of Edmonds told us it only got paid for a race organized by Reinke after putting special conditions in the contract and requiring large deposits. But even then, it took months to get paid.

The Edmonds Food Bank never got the donation it was promised last year. Edmonds told us it will not work with Reinke again.