UK & World News

  • 7 April 2014, 0:26

Sheffield Half Marathon Axe Sparks Chaos

A popular half marathon descended into chaos when it was cancelled just moments before it was due to start - only for runners to set off anyway.

Competitors were lining up to begin Sheffield's annual 13-mile race when organisers announced it could not go ahead because there was not enough drinking water for those taking part.

But many of the runners ignored the cancellation and set off anyway, with reports of members of the public buying water to hand out instead.

Organisers wrote on the official Sheffield Half Marathon's official Twitter page: "It is with huge disappointment & regret that we have been forced to cancel this year's race due to a problem with the delivery of water.

"We would like to express our sincerest apologies to everyone involved in the race who will be affected. We will update you future plans asap."

Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield HallamMP Nick Clegg said: "Everyone involved deserves a full explanation of how this farcical situation was allowed to happen.

"Sheffield is an outstanding city of sport. The extraordinary scenes today shouldn't tarnish that reputation.

"The fact that runners who had carried on regardless were still well supplied with water thanks to spectators, tells you everything you need to know about Sheffield people."

Sheffield resident Sachin Salvi, who pictured some of the runners taking part, said he was glad they had pressed on despite organisers' decision.

"Determined runners and volunteers doing the Sheffield half marathon inspite of the cancellation! Great effort!," he wrote on his Twitter page.

"Shows the Sheffield spirit! If not would have been such bad publicity for Sheffield with the Tour de France coming!

"A stall was run with water from the local superstores. But there were lots of people handing out water they had bought themselves."

South Yorkshire Police said a large number of participants had still chosen to run the race and that officers were already present on parts of the route to assist with the road closures to motorists.

"Working with the organisers, officers attempted to speak to participants who had chosen to run and divert them on to a shorter route to the finish line," the force said in a statement.

"However, officers have kept their positions and stance with the initial road closures to motorists to protect all the runners and ensure their safety is maintained."

A number of angry messages were left on the Sheffield Half Marathon official Facebook page.

Mel Broadhurst wrote: "Absolutely disgusting!!! My friends and I have trained for months some raised a lot of money for charity.

"Terrible lack of communication, won't be doing the Sheffield half again!!!! And I will get my money back!!!!!"

Adam Broadhead wrote: "That is absolutely shocking organisation. You guys have embarrassed the city."

Adam Stern said: "So disappointing for the runners but I also have to say hats off to the Sheffield communities for their efforts in supplying water unofficially to the runners!

"Proud to be from Sheffield for that, just a shame the organisation and communication of the race was so shambolic!!"

Organiser Margaret Lilley said the company due to supply water for runners on the route did not arrive.

She said organisers had attempted to buy water from local supermarkets, but that medical-and-safety officers refused to give the go-ahead.

"Runners had waited half an hour or more to start," she said.

"When we made the announcement the runners decided that they wanted to race anyway, and all 5,000 of them set off."

Advertisement