Essex

Southend Marathon cancelled three weeks before the race

Runners at the start of the Southend Half Marathon 2016 Image copyright Havens Hospices
Image caption Almost 600 runners were due to take part in the Southend Marathon

A coastal marathon has been cancelled three weeks before the race as the council would not close some of the roads.

Havens Hospices said it pulled the plug on the Southend Marathon as it was told on Monday the roads would not be shut.

The safety of the runners had to come first, the organisers said.

Southend Borough Council said it had to balance the event's benefits with stakeholders feedback and the roads would not close.

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A number of runners plan to take part in a Southend Marathon Protest Run.

The race was due to take place on March 12 and 573 runners had entered.

The 26.2-mile (42km) event, two laps along the seafront from East Beach Shoeburyness to Chalkwell, had been planned since October 2015.

Work on a risk assessment started in November 2015 and an application for an event licence was first submitted in January 2016.

Image caption The route went up and down the seafront from Shoeburyness to Chalkwell twice

Judy Grocott, events manager at Havens Hospices, said: "We are truly sorry that we have had to postpone this event so close to the day.

"We feel awful that our runners will not get to complete the race they've been training for."

Runners, who paid up to £40 to enter, have been offered a full refund or a transfer to another event.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Runners have taken to social media to express their disappointment

Lian Simmonds, 43, from Hockley, who was due to take part, said: "It's a shame for Southend and for Havens happening at such short notice."

Havens Hospices runs a half marathon in Southend in July which has road closures and 2,000 people take part.

The charity said it hopes to be able to hold the full marathon in 2018.

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