Sheffield Half Marathon: cancelled, but we ran it anyway! By Beck Lockwood

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 (

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!!

8 Replies to “Sheffield Half Marathon: cancelled, but we ran it anyway! By Beck Lockwood”

  1. Thankyou Beck for providing a Race Report on an event which was cancelled! Is this a first?

  2. I echo everyone’s comments and certainly agree with Alan Orr that next year’s event will surely be better. We know from the Warwick half this year and the chaotic start and finish at the Birmingham half 3/4 years ago that running event organisers tend not to get it totally wrong two years in a row. Both events have greatly improved and I’m sure Sheffield will be the same.

  3. Well done Beck, Kevin (and anyone else who ran it!).Nice to see that it takes more than the race being cancelled and a few police roadblocks to stop Team Teal completing the course! Sorry you got messed around but Respect!

  4. Never underestimate the motivational power of righteous indignation! Well done Beck for completing the race under ridiculous circumstances. Great for you and the charity you were running for.

  5. Well done Beck (and Kevin)!
    It just shows you what great community spirit runners and supporters have. In the face of adversity everybody pulled together to make the event possible. Despit all the adverse publicity, I’d like to run it next year!

  6. Very well done on completing the race! 🙂 Sounds like it was a bit crazy, but it is good that they at least put the chip times on the website. Thanks for the report.

  7. Well done for finishing. I came in at 1.54:36 on the chip time. I must have been asleep because it didn’t occur to me that lack of water was the reason for the delay and I didn’t know the race was cancelled until my wife told me at the finish. I did think it was a bit strange around miles 5-7 that people kept offering me their bottle of water as they ran past me, but to be honest I only really drink a lot on a half if it’s fiercely hot. Yesterday I took one cup from a stand near mile 8, had 3 mouthfuls and chucked the rest away. The problem for me yesterday was the lack of communication, but I actually enjoyed the run.

  8. Well done on completing the distance. I think what happened was appauling. Looking at various websites yesterday, it seem that many of the runners did not even know it had been cancelled. People have talked about getting information late, ariving and the PA system still being erected, being told that the race start was being held up as there were ‘problems on the course’, not hearing announcements and some talk about only knowing it had been cancelled when they got out into the first few miles. This was not a cheap event. Bottled water is not necessry – but if that is what is being used it can be bought in some time in advance – not on the weekend of the event. Many runners (like you) will have travelled a long way, some will have paid for accommodation, all have trained hard and many collected sponsorship – to just cancel shows a total disrespect for the runners involved. The people of Sheffield showed that there was a way round all this and they came out and did what the organisers were not prepared to do. Well done Sheffield!!