Sheffield Half Marathon: cancelled, but we ran it anyway!
After months of training and fundraising – not to mention moaning about blisters and other aches and pains, I launched myself over the starting line of the Sheffield Half Marathon with a burst of righteous indignation that carried me well into the first 2 miles of the run.
You can’t really tell 5,000 dedicated runners who have put that amount of effort into being there at the starting line that their race is cancelled. At that point, the race didn’t belong to the organising committee, it was ours. Many of the elite runners waiting towards the front of the starting pen could hear the announcements and duly dropped out after being told there was not enough water available for the race to go ahead, but the others, who took off anyway, also enabled the waves of charity runners behind to get going, and not let all their efforts go to waste.
Police cars put up road blocks, which competitors merely ran around, ignoring efforts to divert them onto a shorter course and surging on into Sheffield city centre. After looking over my shoulder for three or four miles, expecting someone to find a way of stopping the race, I started to enjoy the community spirit and added excitement of running an unofficial race.
The spectators were amazing too: as we ran through the residential streets people stood outside their houses handing out bottles of water – even (eww) water in empty milk cartons for people to grab as they raced by. Convenience stores and corner shops were emptied of their bottled water supplies by supporters who just stood at the side of the road handing out supplies to anyone and café owners set up tables at the side of the road exhausting their supplies of paper cups.
Although most of the cups were thrown away, there were very few half filled plastic bottles on the floor because runners shared these around between themselves.
Oddly, in training, I could quite happily have run 10 miles or so without a sip of water. As soon as it was apparent that none was available that day, though, I felt extremely thirsty indeed!!
Anyway, we finished the race – 2hrs and 8mins, by my watch, which I’m extremely pleased with, and raised getting on for £300 for our charity, Age UK (http://www.justgiving.com/Beckandrosielockwood)
I certainly don’t blame the organisers for cancelling the race – they had to obey the dictates of health and safety. But they did do an appalling job of keeping people informed in the starting pen. We had no idea what was going on, or what the issues were and, honestly, they’ve not done a great job of informing people after the race. The official statements are thin on detail and, more to the point, the results are still not up on the website!!