Sheffield Half Marathon: Athletes complete course despite cancellation by health and safety officers following last-minute water shortage

Thousands still set off despite attempts by police to block roads

Runners in Sheffield's Half Marathon today were forced to evade police barricades and participate at their own risk after the event was officially cancelled due to a water shortage.

Organisers said that health and safety officers called off the race after the company that was supposed to deliver water for runners failed to arrive in the morning.

The cancellation was announced via loudspeakers at the starting line but, after already waiting for 30 minutes for the race to begin, the disgruntled front runners decided to set off anyway.

South Yorkshire Police confirmed that efforts were initially made to stop them from running, but it was eventually decided it would be “a lesser risk” to let them proceed.

Many participants said they were not even aware the race had been cancelled until a mile or two into the run, and the organisers were criticised for overseeing a “farce”.

Like the runners, many volunteers continued to help people along regardless of the announcement, and members of the public were praised on social media for going out to supermarkets and bringing water to the participants themselves.

Pictures posted to social media showed both runners and volunteers participating despite the announcement (Twitter/Sachin Salvi) Pictures posted to social media showed both runners and volunteers participating despite the announcement (Twitter/Sachin Salvi) The race organisers issued a statement on the Sheffield Half Twitter and Facebook pages, which read: “It is with huge disappointment & regret that we have been forced to cancel this year's race due to a problem with the delivery of water.

“We would like to express our sincerest apologies to everyone involved in the race who will be affected.”

They later added that those who kept their race numbers on and crossed the finish line would have their times published as planned.

Margaret Lilley, the chair of the Sheffield Half organising committee, admitted the episode had been “embarrassing” but praised the spirit of those who “wanted to race anyway” once the cancellation was announced.

She told BBC News: “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.”

A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said efforts had been made to “divert” those who decided to run away onto a shorter route to the finish line.

Inspector Neil Mutch, from South Yorkshire Police’s Organisational Planning Unit, said that after officers attempted to convince people not to race, in the end it was decided it was “a lesser risk” to let them through.

He later tweeted: “Despite cancellation of race, runners have decided to run regardless. All road closure remain in place for safety.”

Rosey Alexander, 38, was among those who finished the run, but said: “It was a farce.

“No one ever informed us it was cancelled. When we set off, we were just glad to get running.

“Then someone said there was no timing recording. By one mile in, I heard people saying there was no water on the course.

“This complete lack of information is the real error of the organisers.”

Sport England received a number of angry messages on social media from would-be runners who had spent months training and fund-raising for charity.

The organisation tweeted: “We're very sorry to hear of the cancellation of #sheffieldhalfmarathon. We admire everyone who has trained hard & made it to the start line.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones