Sorry, I wasn't clear. I thought it was a poor effort at promoting the event. It was cancelled because they didn't put any effort into promoting it. Yes, I have had races cancelled and no refund, but that was for holes in the road, extreme weather, etc. We've all had those, and that's part and parcel of paying in advance. But those were out of the hands of the organisers. The lack of interest by the organisers in this event is shown by it still appearing here as available, even though it has been cancelled. That's a poor effort, as it only requires an email to Runners World.
So. yes. poor effort. What else can it be called? If they had cancelled and kept the money that would have been fraud, because there was nothing preventing the race from going ahead. So refunding was a legal requirement not a good service.