Sheffield Half Marathon organisers step down from race

Sheffield Half Marathon no water- Rebel runners take to the street as the timing car is stranded
Sheffield Half Marathon no water- Rebel runners take to the street as the timing car is stranded

The organisers of the botched Sheffield Half Marathon have announced they will not be putting on the race again.

Sheffield Marathon Limited directors and organising committee - a team of volunteers who have run the not for profit organisation which is behind the Sheffield Half Marathon since 1982 – said today they have decided they will not be involved in future marathons.

They said they had taken the decision not to put on the event again within 48 hours of this year’s cancelled race but had delayed announcing the decision to bring about an ‘orderly conclusion’ to the row.

The race was cancelled earlier this year due to a lack of water while runners waited on the start line.

But thousands of runners still completed the course, despite some not being aware of the cancellation until the finish because they didn’t hear the announcement.

In the days after the cancelled race, supplier Water Direct said it was not paid by Sheffield Marathon Ltd - but organisers said they were never told to pay in advance.

More than £1.5 million has been raised for local charities since the race began 30 years ago.

But officials today revealed they had been sent abusive emails, calls and letters to their workplaces and homes following this year’s event.

Robert Jackson, chairman of Sheffield Marathon Ltd, said: “There has been a great deal of sensitivity from all parties involved in the cancelled 2014 event. For the runners, we can once again only apologise for the upset and inconvenience caused by the safety officer’s decision to cancel the race.

“After all the hard work, training and fundraising done in the months leading up to the race it must have been devastating to end in this way without the opportunity to fully complete personal goals.

“However, we also wanted to take this opportunity to place on record the distress and upset this situation has caused us. In no way are we are seeking any sympathies from runners, the general public or media, but there comes a time when enough is enough and a sense of proportion has to prevail.

“We did not expect anyone to be pleased by the decision to cancel but nothing could have prepared us what followed.

“On the day of the event and since there have been personal attacks on some of the committee members, some of who have received abusive emails, calls and letters to their workplaces and homes.

“None of us wanted this to happen or end like this. The last few weeks have been some of the worst of our lives.

“For the last 30 years we have given up our time to put on this race, for no other reason than to benefit others, but now we feel it is time to step aside and let someone else take the strain for the benefit of runners.

“The organising committee remains in confidential discussions with regards to the cancellation and, at this stage, cannot say any more so as not to jeopardise those discussions.”

Race organisers were landed in hot water again with runners earlier this month after sending out letters telling them refunds would only be paid out of money set aside for charity.

Angry participants said organisers were engaging in a ‘guilt trip’ on runners to stop them claiming money back. Organisers later apologised if people considered the letter was ‘ill-judged’.

Mr Jackson added: “Whatever the future holds, we hope that Sheffield people will come together to rebuild and stage a road race that the city deserves and one which continues to support local good causes.”