Refunds ruled out over farce of half-marathon

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Runners who signed up for Sheffield Half Marathon will be not be refunded for race fees after the event was cancelled at the last minute, organisers have confirmed.

Committee members behind the annual event, which descended into chaos on Sunday when a water shortage led to the plug being pulled moments before the start, said participants would not be given their money back but promised a “‘full investigation” into what happened.

The decision to call off the race came after suppliers Water Direct failed to turn up, but around 4,100 competitors still went ahead and completed the 13-mile course. Some had defied organisers’ orders while others did not hear the tannoy announcements confirming its cancellation.

Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield MP Nick Clegg was among those who demanded an explanation, labelling the situation a farce.

Water Direct, which worked at London 2012 and Paralympics, was unable to give a reason for the shortage but agreed to supply water for next year’s event free-of-charge.

Managing director Keith Silcock said: “We are devastated that this event had to be cancelled and are investigating and liaising closely with the organisers to establish exactly what led to this outcome.

“As a gesture of goodwill Water Direct shall be offering a free water supply service to next year’s Sheffield Half Marathon. We can certainly assure there will be no problems whatsoever

Margaret Lilley, chairwoman of the volunteer-run Sheffield Half Marathon organising committee, said: “We are committed to carrying out a thorough and comprehensive investigation examining all the key issues including water delivery, communications issues and refunds for runners.

“The requirements for an official race dictate that there is an appropriate amount of water available at every three-mile interval on the course.

“At previous events we have always taken delivery of the water on the morning of the race and our suppliers have proven very reliable. This was not the case for the 2014 event and ultimately it was the key factor informing our decision to cancel the race.”

Keith Silcock, Managing Director of Water Direct, said; “We appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in organising and taking part in this event, and the people of Sheffield who supported it. As a gesture of goodwill Water Direct shall be offering a free water supply service next year.”

Mr Clegg, MP for Sheffield Hallam, said yesterday that 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.

“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 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.”