Organisers respond to criticism over 'shocking' Cumbrian Run

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The Great Cumbrian Run
The Great Cumbrian Run

Organisers of the Great Cumbrian Run have responded to criticism from runners who took part in Sunday's half marathon.

It has been claimed that participants were sent the wrong way, had to dodge moving vehicles and that the overall distance of the route did not measure the full 13.1-mile required.

There was also criticism of the finish, in Carlisle's Bitts Park, with claims spectators were getting in the way of runners and that the final stretch was muddy and potentially unsafe.

But organisers have denied that there were problems, saying the distance was verified by UK Athletics and branding the event a success.

Grenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) said it was forced to change the route this year due to the closure of the Rickerby Park suspension bridge and the Sheepmount Stadium, where the race usually ends.

A statement, posted on the Great Cumbrian Run Facebook page, said: "The 35th Great Cumbrian Run took place Sunday, October 1 with 1,192 runners taking part – an increase of approximately 60 participants on the 2016 run.

"Owing to the closures of both the suspension bridge in Rickerby Park and Sheepmount Stadium (for flood repair work to be carried out), two significant route changes needed to be implemented to allow the run to go ahead.

"An alternative finishing area was identified in Bitts Park. Whilst run organisers recognise that this was a significant change, the location was agreed to be the most appropriate, bearing in mind the numbers of people taking part.

"The route was confirmed and measured by a representative of UK Athletics. A certificate was issued confirming the route to be 13.1 miles.

"The Great Cumbrian Run is staged on public highways and paths and marshalled by a significant number of staff and volunteer stewards, with input and assistance from Cumbria police.

"Whilst there is a very robust event safety management plan in place and lots of very clear signage, occasionally runners go off course and drivers can sometimes ignore signage or instructions from officials.

"When these instances occur, they are recorded and discussed in a post event debrief, to ensure that should changes need to be implemented for the future, they are properly recorded.

"Organisers Greenwich Leisure Limited are delighted that so many people enjoyed another safe and successful event, and that many thousands of pounds have been raised for numerous charities."

David Macnaughton said: "The fact that the map showed the route going by Eastern Way but the actual race went through Botcherby really needs addressing. The fact that, even on the day of the race, the course description was that of the normal route through Rickerby Park needs addressing, the lack of barriers/tape to guide people to the finish needs addressing and the lack of any formal apology from GLL over all of the above certainly needs looking at.

"I'm seriously undecided as to whether I'll enter next year or not, as my faith in the organisers is seriously lacking."

Michelle Little added: "The finish line was ridiculous. Not enough marshals leading up to it. No directional signs.

"The path into Bitts park should of been closed off for runners only. The majority also seem to have taken the wrong route."

Also among those to express his frustrations was Steven Berry, who has taken part in the run "five or six" times previously.

He told the News & Star: "There were times when people didn't seem to know where they should be going.

"At the finish line I went the wrong way. Nobody told me, I only knew because a member of the public said something. I ended up having to turn around and go the other way.

"At Botcherby, people were also going the wrong way. I was going to go onto Eastern Way but got told to go down through Botcherby instead. My overall distance said I'd ran 12.9 miles.

"I also heard near the Sands Centre traffic wasn't stopped. A mate of mine said he nearly ran someone over. There weren't any signs saying there were runners going past."

The closure of the suspension bridge in Rickerby Park meant that organisers opted for an alternative route that saw the final steep ascent out of the park to Brampton Road not included.

Other participants have also raised their concerns about the run to organisers online.

Kate Whalen said: "I've been to a lot of races, both running and supporting, big and small, and this was the worst organisation I've ever seen.

"So glad I chose not to run this year. The finish line especially was chaos.

"The front runners were taking wrong turns at the final few 100m and having to shout for park-goers to get out the way. It was shocking."

Mathew Ireland added: "I’ve got to agree with all the above. Compared to 2016 this year was a mess.

"As someone who works in sports events I’m shocked that it was run in this manner, and particularly concerned that someone thinks the finish section was acceptable."

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Mo   Farah , Tunisia Saturday, 07 October, 2017 at 9:52AM
I ran up to Carlisle from London on the day of the event and had no problems except for a stretch of the M6. Marshalls were great all the way up. But then I joined the Cumbrian Run and felt the need to whinge and moan.
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David   Sinnott , Manchester Thursday, 05 October, 2017 at 11:57AM
As I was unable to run due to injury I offered to marshall,got a reply to say would be in touch nearer the event,never heard anything.
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Mo   Farah , Carlisle Saturday, 07 October, 2017 at 3:48PM
I also volunteered to Marshall but was told by the organisers that I needed to prove an understanding of running so was rejected
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John   Wood , Carlisle Wednesday, 04 October, 2017 at 6:22PM
Moan, moan, moan...
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Malcolm   Ward , Carlisle Tuesday, 03 October, 2017 at 9:53AM
It was a real shocker at the finish. There was the "hidden" need to sharply leave the tarmac path and turn sharp right downwards over the wet, slippy wet grass. Some runners slipped. The two "officials" there had nil apparent concerns albeit exhausted runner after runner were bewildered and many threw their arms up in exasperation.
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Graeme   , Cumbria Tuesday, 03 October, 2017 at 4:21AM
There are many reasons why someone’s personal tracker may record the distance different than the official one measured by the organisers. If a section of the run is one where gps can be confused - running indeed trees for example then the final distance recorded can get confused. Also if people cut corners over pavements, take a different line down the road than the organisers plotted then the final distance will be different. Normally officially organised events have to have the distance validated. As to the poor organisation at the finish line or not closing the road then that really needs addressed before next year. Having run a few half marathons it’s hard enough at Rome’s without being sent the wrong way or encountering cars when you think you’re on closed roads.
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Paul   Graves , Monday, 02 October, 2017 at 9:02PM
The organisers will no doubt try to use the excuse of having to change the route etc for its failings at Sunday’s race but the truth of the matter is that this is the culmination of several years of decline in the organisation of the event. Take a look at their official website, apparently the race still finishes at the Sheepmount and there are showers/changing facilities for use there. The Sheepmount building has been condemned for nearly 2 years!! Also a “goody bag” consisting of a bottle of Lucozade and a few flyers for upcoming events at the Sands Centre isn’t worth the £30+ entrance fee. The less said about the finish the better. Such a pity as the race could (& has been in the past) so much bigger, the route generally is an excellent one starting at the Castle, taking in the City Centre and surrounding villages which are often well supported. Hopefully the fallout from Sunday will be the kick up the backside the event needs to enable it to return to its status as the “Great” Cumbrian Run.
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Matty   Bell Carrigan , Cargo Monday, 02 October, 2017 at 7:41PM
Steven should keep his views to himself and keep smiling
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