Lawsuits

Men's Health Publisher Drops Push to Stop Nov. 5 AZ Urban Race; Parties Settle

The race will go on!

After playing the heavy in a legal fight against a local promoter of an upcoming obstacle-course race, the publisher of Men's Health magazine, has relented and dropped a demand to stop the November 5 event.

A consent judgment signed by U.S. District Judge Neil Wake yesterday shows that Rodale, Inc., and the organizers of what used to be known as AZ Urbanathlon have settled. Rodale, Inc., the national magazine's publisher, had filed a federal complaint last month that claimed the local event was stealing the name "Urbanathlon," which it had trademarked. Men's Health runs several obstacle-course races each year in various cities under the name Urbanathlon and fretted that the public would assume the Arizona event was one of those.

As we mentioned last week, AZ Urbanathlon -- organized by Mountainside Fitness, a local chain of gyms -- changed its name to AZ Urban Race and destroyed $15,000 in branded gear in an attempt to satisfy the publishing giant. Rodale responded by asking a judge for an injunction that would have ended the November 5 race before it began.

Yesterday's approval of the settlement by Wake clears the way for racers -- now all they have to do is jump cars, crawl under chain-link fences and clear other modern hazards.

Proceeds will benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation, according to the race's new Web site.

One interesting stipulation in Wake's order is that all news releases about the litigation by the AZ Urban Race organizers must be approved by Rodale. Seems like the publisher didn't appreciate statements in a news release last week by the race director, Mario Arce, who urged the public to protest Rodale's tactics on the Men's Health Facebook page.

"Please let Men's Health know how they are negatively impacting the Phoenix community," he wrote.

That resulted in harsh comments about the magazine, including one from Erica Bethel, who wrote, "The actions of this publisher against the make a wish foundation is enough for me to boycott all rodale publications. Pigs with no morals - dont care who they step on to get there. Even sick children."

Ouch!

For the sake of the children (and now that the money issue is settled), everyone's getting along fine now.

The event will take place at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. See the Web site for details.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.