Sheffield Half Marathon – 6th April 2014.
This was the 32nd year for this race and the first from the new Don Valley Bowl. There was big PR surrounding this event with Mark Lebett from ITV’s The Chase programme starting the firing gun and Porsche of Sheffield allowing the winner of the half marathon the use of a Boxster for the weekend. So when the event was cancelled 50 minutes after it should have started, it was met with complete confusion and mixed messages. The official reason is that the water supplier did not turn up with the water for the water station.
The race was to start at 9am and it was a chilly morning. Runners had been arriving as early as 7.30 with absolutely no idea of what was about to happen. The Bowl was packed with charity tents, brands selling their goods, porta loos, medics and police. There was even a mini fun fair. The red finish gate had been erected and the main sponsor SIG Insulation was setting up and giving out freebies.
Rumours started to circulate that the race was delayed by half an hour and the organiser finally announced the race would start at 9.30 due to some obstruction on part of the route. So at 9.20 over 5,000 runners made their way to the start line. And we waited and we waited. My sister went to the front and the Elite runners were getting frustrated. At 9.50 a member of the general public came towards the back of the runners where I was standing and announced that the race had been cancelled. Not sure if it was true or not, no-one could located a marshal. The people holding the banners for the various finishing times were not even sure what were going on.
The front runners made the decision that they were going to run and set off and we all followed them. The clock at the beginning was not ticking away, so I guessed that they had de-activated the chips, so we were not going to get a time. But I went with the flow. The police told the organisers that they were not going to stop the race as it would cause chaos and may cause casualties, so the organisers had to see the race through to the end.
We reached the first water station and there was no water. The marshals there were so apologetic. And so we continued. The residents and business’ of Sheffield came out onto the streets and provided water and jelly babies etc. They were amazing. The street bands that had been assigned to entertain runners stayed and played. It was like the real thing.
Having said that though, I did see some awful cases of dehydration and the paramedics were doing a splendid job.
I ran the whole way and took my shot blocks and had my water bottle with me. I reached the Don Valley Bowl where the crowd were absolutely amazing and seeing my sister and niece was great. I pressed onto the finish line and the garmin gave a time of 2 hours 6 minutes – would have been a PB if this was an official race. I got my medal, T shirt and goody bag at the end, so all was not lost.
I don’t understand why the water supplier was told to delivery on the day. Surely this should have been delivered at least 48 hours before? I do hope the organisers learn from this for next year. Would I do it again? I think so as it was a great course, great atmosphere and I had a great run.
I don’t think Porsche honoured the Boxster loan and Mark Lebett arrived, but when told the news of the impending cancellation, left just after 9am.