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Spen 20 - Statement

posted 17 Mar 2015, 12:07 by Spen A.C.   [ updated 28 Sep 2015, 13:38 ]
I am replying to various comments made on the local press website, Twitter, Facebook and Athletics Weekly in regard to a female competitor, Annette Edwards, who was asked to withdraw while taking part in the Spen 20 miles road race on March 15th.

While the race was taking place I cycled the course wearing a marshal bib, watching the progress of the race particularly the runners at the back end of the race. I stopped at a junction shortly after the first mile to assist marshals there. The runners passed the junction within a few minutes but I could see one female runner who was about 400 meters behind the next to last runner. I approached her and asked if she was alright and she said yes. I estimate that more than 15 minutes had passed since the start of the race and the runner had only just passed the first mile. She told me that she is an experienced runner and has completed among other long distance races a marathon in 6 hours. I told her that all of the runners usually finish in less than 4 hours and that I would like to withdraw the marshals within that time. From the few minutes I watched and spoke to her I could see that she would take well over five hours to complete the course. I told her that while she could continue if at the 10mile marker she was still a long way behind the other runners and had taken over 2 hours to get to that point I would be asking her to withdraw from the race. She was not happy with this and said that there was no point in continuing if she could not finish the race. I explained that I could not expect the marshals and officials to wait for her as they would be out for well over an hour longer than I estimated they would be. After further conversation during which she expressed her dissatisfaction she turned around and began to walk back to the start. At race headquarters she was given her entry fee back.

On the entry form there is no time limit stated. Some years ago I stated a time limit on the form but I found it difficult to enforce because runners were reluctant to stop running. Over the years almost all of the runners have finished within 4 hours and we have accepted and worked up to this time limit. Some runners who know they will take well over 4 hours have asked when they have entered if they can start early and we have accommodated this as the route markers are put out 2 hours before the start. This year two runners asked for an early start and we accommodated their request. We do not advertise or encourage this because there would be no marshals on the course we would be concerned if too many runners took advantage of an early start.

I am sorry that the day was spoiled for Annette. The race is a well established mainly club runners event and while we are accommodating a level of slower runners who enter we do not have the resources to facilitate people who do not have a reasonable level of fitness to take part in this race.

Frank Reddington
Spen 20 Race Organiser
Spenborough & District Athletics Club