7 Dec

Never On A Sunday

2011 Selsdon Half Marathon

For most race organisers, Sunday is an event day. Each month the UK race calendar is packed with 10k races, half marathons, marathons and every other kind of endurance events. The overwhelming majority are held on a Sunday. Indeed during November 2011, of the 107 events on the Run Britain calendar, 84 of them were staged on a Sunday.

This compares to a mere 12 Saturday events in the whole of the UK. Imagine then if your religious beliefs prevented you from competing on a Sunday?

Former Olympic triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards was the most high-profile athlete to refuse to compete on a Sunday due to his religious beliefs, when he chose to forego the 1991 World Championships. He subsequently recanted and eventually lost his faith altogether.

But for the regular road runner who also holds beliefs that Edwards once held so dear, the issue remains acute. Road running is overwhelmingly a Sunday sport. Virtually every major UK road race is on Sunday and indeed so are the majority of smaller events.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - or Mormons as they are more commonly known - and a keen runner David Eaton was among those who found his race options severely limited.So, he decided to do something about it.

Based in Selsdon, in the south of Croydon he organised the inaugural Selsdon half marathon in March 2010 and held it on a Saturday. He said: "I have been running for many years and I have also been a member of the church for many years. There was a sense of frustration for me that all running events are on a Sunday.

"The teachings of our saviour are that the Sabbath is a holy day. It's a matter of personal choice. Sunday is a day that is dedicated to other things, which means I can't do the London marathon and other such events.

"This will be the third year of the event. In our first year we had 29, this year we had 145 of which around 35 or 40 were church members and the rest were local runners. This year we are hoping to double the number of participants to 300."

Event starts and finishes at Selsdon Church and takes place on Saturda, March 24. For more information, see: www.selsdonhalfmarathon.verycool.co.uk/