Anyone who has participated in the numerous Saturday morning 5k park runs that are organised across Britain and Ireland, or indeed taken part in races ranging in distance from 5k and 10k to marathon, will know that such events require careful and considerate planning and organisation to ensure that all goes smoothly for the assembled runners.
We are fortunate in Belfast to have a number of running clubs and park run venues, as well as a calendar of organised runs, which means that aspiring runners, from those simply seeking to get fit to those passionate about the sporting discipline, have plenty of opportunities to partake in organised events throughout the year.
It would appear, however, that yesterday’s Titanic Half Marathon and 10k event was not well organised, and the local running community is far from pleased.
According to this blog post from John Black, there were a number of worrying aspects to the entire event, including:
Delayed start by at least a half hour.
The start line was moved just before the beginning of the race. Alarm bells should go off as the distance was most likely incorrect which a few people have stated along with incorrect times.
Not enough water on the course.
Not enough marshals on the course
No first aid on the course.
Roads were not closed to traffic.
No mile markers.
No medals at the finish despite this being advertised although a plaque was given out instead.
At £27.50 per head to enter a half marathon with purportedly 800+ entrants, there is a clear financial incentive for the organisers, who appear to have deleted the event’s Facebook page a few days prior to the event taking place, which raised eyebrows as well.
Athletics NI, responding to fierce criticism of the event by participants and members of local running clubs, have explained their position on this Facebook page, where a number of participants outlined their grievances:
Having met with the race organisers prior to the event, Athletics Northern Ireland went through thorough discussions on the required policies of obtaining a race permit licence.
Athletics Northern Ireland clearly indicated important points such as adequate marshaling, water stations, portable toilets, registrations and following through with information such as prizes if this has been clearly stated prior to the race entry.
We advised the race organisers prior to the race of the benefits of accurate route measurements and therefore can confirm that the race was accurately measured. However, we have been informed that this changed slightly on the day, for reasons that surpass us.
It completely disheartens us that, what we were falsely lead to believe from the Titanic Half Marathon and 10K event organisers has not been fulfilled to the utmost highest standards to make this an enjoyable race for both runners and marshals/volunteers.
In light of this, representatives from Athletics Northern Ireland attended today’s event and assured us that this matter will be brought to the board of Athletics Northern Ireland pending further investigation.
We would like to take this moment to apologise for the unsatisfactory experience you have received, and would like to point out that, this event bares no relation to that of our highly prestigious and efficiently run TQ10K.
Thank you for your time.
Athletics Northern Ireland
On that Facebook page, the administrators of the Belfast Titanic Triathlon accuse Endurance Junkie, the organisation behind yesterday’s event, of “piggy-backing on to the hard work of ourselves and many other reputable event organisers by running copy cat races.”
On that note, North Belfast Harriers are pointing out that Endurance Junkie have organised a 5k/10k run on the Laganside Towpath on 30th August, one week prior to the annual Laganside 10k which is organised by the Harriers.
The story featured on BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme this morning (1hr 19mins in.)