Both chaos and confusion ensued at yesterday’s Sheffield Half Marathon after organisers were forced to cancel the race due to a water delivery failing to arrive. Over 4,000 runners are said to have carried on despite the announcement, many of whom were unaware the event had been cancelled.
The lack of adequate water supplies meant health and safety officers were unwilling to let the half marathon go ahead. Police officers initially hoped to stop the race through roadblocks but later decided it constituted a lower risk to allow runners to continue.
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. 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."
While the cancellation was made over loudspeakers at the start line, many runners said they were unable to hear the announcement. 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."
For those who did continue, volunteers who had heard the news lined the course with water to hand out to runners. A post on Sheffield Half Marathon Facebook page read: “Thank you to all the public, companies, marshals, traffic management and even police who stayed out on the course supporting and giving generous water donations. You made the event happen, be very proud of yourselves.”
The cancellation is the first in the event’s 33-year history; a date for the rescheduled event has yet to be confirmed.