Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield Half Marathon committee 'should be thanked, not abused'

Richard Caborn
Image caption Richard Caborn, former Sheffield Labour MP and sports minister, said the organising committee should be thanked, not abused

Sheffield Half Marathon's organisers received "unbelievable" and "totally unacceptable" abuse after the race was abandoned amid chaotic scenes, a former sports minister has said.

The committee announced its resignation on Friday after April's race was abandoned due to a lack of water.

Richard Caborn, a former Labour MP for Sheffield, said he was one of many who ran despite the cancellation.

He said: "I hope Sheffield says thanks to the committee."

The race has been held for the past 33 years but was called off at the last minute after organisers said they were "let down" by a company due to supply water along the route.

'Very sad'

Many of the 4,100 entrants did not realise the race was cancelled and chaotic scenes ensued as some abandoned the race while others ran anyway.

Mr Caborn, who has run the race for 15 years, said the committee had "dedicated their lives" to it since 1982.

"I feel very sad and sorry for the people on the committee and the volunteers," he said.

Image caption Many of the entrants ran the route despite the cancellation

"The abuse they've taken is unbelievable. I hope Sheffield thanks the committee for the past 30 years, for all the money they've raised for charity, and for getting so many people running."

Mike Cordon, chairman of City of Sheffield Athletics Club, said a "serious mistake" had been made and that the committee had a duty to explain to runners exactly what happened.

In a statement on Friday, Sheffield Marathon Limited said: "The directors and organising committee, a team of volunteers who have run the not-for-profit organisation since 1982, have decided they will not be involved in future marathons."

'Distress and upset'

Chairman Robert Jackson said: "We can once again only apologise for the upset and inconvenience caused by the safety officer's decision to cancel the race.

"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 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."

He said committee members had received abusive emails, calls and letters and that it was time to "step aside and let someone else take the strain for the benefit of runners".

In June, the committee said money raised for charity would be used to refund the runners.

Organisers originally refused to offer refunds as infrastructure still had to be paid for and race rules stated the fee would not be returned.

Mr Jackson said the refund was "a gesture of goodwill" and made "without any admission of liability".

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