Sheffield half-marathon organisers are facing fresh anger today after it has been revealed entrance fees for Sunday’s cancelled event will not be refunded.
The 13.1 mile run was axed at the last moment after a supplier failed to deliver water for the event.
Organisers initially delayed the start for 30 minutes whilst trying to locate alternative supplies from local shops and supermarkets, but later cancelled the event when they couldn’t acquire enough supplies to cover regulations.
Angry ‘rebel runners’ decided to take on the route anyway, whilst a number of other participants followed on not realising the race had been cancelled.
Requirements for an official race state that appropriate amounts of water should be available at water stations placed at least every three miles along the course. However, without full official supplies it was left to Sheffield’s local businesses and residents to kindly supply water along some of the route.
Despite cancellation of the official event, runners have today been told they will not receive a refund of their £24-£26 entrance fees, with chair of the race organisers Margaret Lilley telling BBC Radio Sheffield: “The rules say there are no refunds and, as people will appreciate, the infrastructure we had to put in place we still have to pay for.”
In a further statement today, Mrs Lilley stated: “Once we had cancelled the race we tried to divert the runners back to the Don Valley Bowl start.
“It became clear that our duty of care to the runners who continued was to do everything in our power to ensure their safety. So, we kept the event infrastructure in place, did not re-open any roads and continued to follow the road reopening process as per the original plan.”
Sheffield Marathon Limited, who organise the events, also pointed out: “A number of the people who chose to continue to run the course did require medical attention, including the transportation of some runners to hospital, mostly as a result of lack of hydration.”
Footage taken as the cancelation was announced showed a visably upset Mrs Lilley amongst a group of disappointed organisers.
A statement on the Sheffield Marathon's website praised people for offering bottles of water to ‘rebel runners’, but has also caused further disappointment for naming a selection of national chains but not giving mention to any of the many local businesses that set up makeshift water stations on the route.
“We were delighted to see so many businesses and residents trying to help the situation,” said Sheffield Marathons, “Literally hundreds of people were offering bottles of water and organisations such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Costa Coffee joined in.”
A full investigation into why the water delivery wasn’t made is now underway, with Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg demanding a “full investigation.”
Richard Caborn, the former Labour MP for Sheffield Central and minister for sport during Tony Blair’s government also told BBC Radio Sheffield that he thought it was “A bit of a cock up.”
Caborn, who was a ‘rebel runner’ himself on Sunday, added: “On the one hand they said it was off and on the other hand everybody is running.”
Over 4,000 people ended up completing the ‘race’ and Sheffield Marathons have published a list of finish times for those who did complete the course.
Who needs watter to run a Sheffield half marathon? pic.twitter.com/cwiye926Wq— Pete McKee (@PeteMcKee) April 6, 2014