Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield Half Marathon water shortage causes chaos

Chaotic scenes surrounded Sheffield's Half Marathon after organisers cancelled the event due to a lack of water for runners.

There was confusion at the starting line as many of the 4,100 runners decided to carry on running anyway.

South Yorkshire Police said it had initially tried to set up road blocks but later decided it was safer to let them complete the run.

Organisers said they had been "let down" by their water supplier.

Insp Neil Mutch, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "We attempted to convince runners not to carry on, but decided it was a lesser risk to let them run the race."

Margaret Lilley, chair of the race organisers, said: "We had a problem with the supply of water.

"The company we had asked to supply bowsers for the route did not arrive this morning.

Runners stopped

"We have scoured supermarkets around the city, but unfortunately we have not been able to secure enough water for the medical-and-safety officers of the race to say it is safe to go ahead. We therefore took the very reluctant decision to cancel the race."

Ms Lilley added: "Runners had waited half an hour or more to start. When we made the announcement the runners decided that they wanted to race anyway, and all of them set off."

Many runners stopped when they realised the race had been cancelled, but a large number decided to carry on.

Jenny Chambers, from Sheffield, who was near the starting line, said she was angry at organisers for "mismanaging" the event.

She said: "I was looking forward to running as it's my local race; in fact I won the very first Sheffield Marathon.

"It's not good enough to say the race was cancelled but then let runners carry on. I feel very let down. "[It's] appalling mismanagement, that's why I am cross; not the fact that the race was cancelled, but how it was done."

Another runner, identified only as John from Huddersfield, said: "We just heard that it had been cancelled and then everyone set off, and as you got running people were saying it was because there was no water on the course.

Image copyright Emily Wheeler
Image caption There was a limited supply of water for the runners along the route

"But once you got out onto the course there were people handing out bottles."

Peter Novodvorsky, of Sheffield, who was there to watch the race, said there were chaotic scenes.

He said: "The organisers announced the cancellation through a loudspeaker, which was not loud enough at all.

"When people started running anyway, I suppose many people at the back thought the race had started."

Toby Spencer, from Solihull, was the first person to cross the finish line at Don Valley Bowl, BBC Radio Sheffield reported. He said it was his "first and last race here".

Image copyright Sachin Salvi
Image caption The city's terrain challenged runners who chose to tackle the route on Sunday morning

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