Sheffield half-marathon: No refunds for would-be runners of 'shambolic' and 'farcical' cancelled road race as even Nick Clegg wades into row

The event was plunged into chaos after organisers said they were 'let down' by a company due to supply water for runners along the race route

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The Independent Online

The organisers of a 'shambolic' and 'farcical' half-marathon in Sheffield, that had to be cancelled due to a lack of water supplies, are today facing further criticism after refusing to refund entry fees.

The event, which was due to go ahead on Sunday morning, was plunged into chaos after organisers said they were "let down" by a company due to supply water for runners along the race route.

Many of the 4,100 runners were unaware that the race, which has been run annually for 33 years, had been cancelled and a large number of the disgruntled and angry front runners ran the route regardless.

According to some reports police barricades were initially erected to prevent runners completing the 13-mile course, before South Yorkshire Police decided it would be “a lesser risk” to let them proceed.

Margaret Lilley, chairwoman of Sheffield Marathon Ltd, said she understood that many people were "very upset" at the cancellation but that there would be no refunds of the £24-£26 entry fee.

Speaking to the BBC Mrs Lilley said: "The rules say there are no refunds and, as people will appreciate, the infrastructure we had to put in place we still have to pay for."

In a statement on the marathon website Margaret Lilley, wrote yesterday: “It is with huge disappointment and regret that we were forced to cancel the 2014 half marathon because of a problem with the delivery of water.

"We apologise to all the runners, their families and friends and anyone who has supported the event.”

"A full investigation is currently underway into the circumstances behind why the original water order was not delivered.

The requirements for an official race dictate that there is an appropriate amount of water available at every three mile interval. "

“We delayed the start while we made every attempt to source alternative supplies, but it became clear that we were never likely to get the sufficient amount appropriate to allow the race to continue safely.”

Last night, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is MP for the Sheffield Hallam constituency, waded into the row and  called for a "full explanation" of how the "farcical situation" at the Sheffield Half Marathon was allowed to happen.

Mr Clegg said the "extraordinary scenes" should not tarnish the city's reputation.

"I know thousands of people have trained long and hard for this event, with many running for some outstanding local charities and others coming from around the country to take part or watch.

"I can only imagine how disappointed they must have been when they learned that the race was cancelled as they were on the start line ready to set off.

"Everyone involved deserves a full explanation of how this farcical situation was allowed to happen. Sheffield is an outstanding city of sport. The extraordinary scenes today shouldn't tarnish that reputation.

"The fact that runners who had carried on regardless were still well supplied with water thanks to spectators, tells you everything you need to know about Sheffield people."

Yesterday comments from angry runners were posted under the announcement of the race cancellation on Facebook.

Mel Broadhurst commented: "Absolutely disgusting!!! My friends and I have trained for months some raised a lot of money for charity. Terrible lack of communication, won't be doing the Sheffield half again!!!! And I will get my money back!!!!!"

Adam Broadhead wrote: "That is absolutely shocking organisation. You guys have embarrassed the city."

Adam Stern said: "So disappointing for the runners but I also have to say hats off to the Sheffield communities for their efforts in supplying water unofficially to the runners! Proud to be from Sheffield for that, just a shame the organisation and communication of the race was so shambolic!!"

Today would-be participants in the race attacked the decision not to refund the entry fee.

One runner, Lucy from Beauchief, told local BBC radio that she was never officially informed the event had been cancelled. She described the decision not to give refunds as "pretty disgusting".