What's Your Problem?

Should I collect sponsorship money for a race I didn't run?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Q: I recently asked my colleagues to sponsor me for a 10k charity race, signing up around £300 in sponsorship. But when it came to the day, I had a terrible hangover and, I'm ashamed to say, I didn't run it. I was going to pretend that I had, and ask for the money, but now I'm feeling really bad about not doing it. What's the right thing to do?

A: You can emerge from all this with friendships and self-respect intact - but not if you lie. Even if you were never rumbled - which is so unlikely as to be discounted - you'd go on feeling furtive and shame-faced for years to come. You need to find some way of coming clean without denying that charity a very useful £300.

In itself, there's nothing particularly shameful about having a terrible hangover. A bit silly, perhaps, just before a 10k race, but human enough. So you must tell your colleagues exactly what happened. But before you do, you must set yourself another challenge - at least as demanding as your original race and preferably tougher.

Get a couple of trustworthy individuals to agree to act as steward and referee. Then ask your colleagues one by one if they'll still honour their original pledges. They'll probably send you up rotten but most should agree - not so much for your sake as for the charity's. And if one or two back out, you'll simply have to find replacements for them.

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