Organizers of a 5K race in Kentucky who planned to enlist “Native American reenactors” to chase participants announced Thursday they would be changing the race.
According to the Central Kentucky News, runners in the James Ray 5K race in Harrodsburg, Ky. were chased by Native American reenactors near the finish line of last year's race. The same event was being planned for this year's race, which is being held on Aug. 15.
Terry Wasson, the race’s organizer, told the News that the reenactors were involved in order to make the race “unique.” “It seemed to be something that everybody really enjoyed last year,” Wasson told the paper. “It was a big hit and came off as unique as we had hoped it would.”
The race is scheduled to be held as part of Pioneer Days, an event held by the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce to commemorate Kentucky’s frontier days. James Ray, a former general who fought Native Americans in the late 1700s and early 1800s, later served in the Kentucky legislature.
But after several outraged posts on the chamber of commerce’s Facebook page, the chamber said it "has pulled all references to Native Americans in its print and internet media" in a Facebook posting this morning. The chamber "does not endorse the misrepresentation of Native Americans," it said. A chamber employee referred Fusion to the Facebook post and hung up the phone.
Several people posted a photo on the chamber's Facebook page that appears to be of a Native American reenactor in last year's race. (All race numbers in last year's race were in the 400's, and the numbers 428 and 429 were given to female racers, according to the results from last year's race. The background of the photo also matches a Google Street View near the race's finish line point in Harrodsburg.)
Wasson did not respond to several requests for comment.
Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.