Organisers respond to criticism over 'shocking' 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."