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Organiser defends Belfast's Titanic Half Marathon branded 'a shambles' by runners

By Claire McNeilly

Published 14/07/2015

Scenes from Sunday’s Titanic half-marathon in Belfast
Scenes from Sunday’s Titanic half-marathon in Belfast
Scenes from Sunday’s Titanic half-marathon in Belfast
The medals which it was claimed did not arrive in time

The organiser of the Titanic Half Marathon and 10K has defended the event after being accused of not going the distance - literally - after participants hit out at the race being half-a-mile short.

Despite a £27.50 entry fee, that was only one of a slew of complaints made by those at the event on Sunday morning.

A sports governing body has launched an investigation into the Belfast race after runners complained the event was a "shambles".

Organiser William Anderson said they had abided by safety requirements.

The problems outlined by runners included:

  • the route changed on the day and there were poor route markings;
  • although the race was billed as an officially measured course the half-marathon route was actually half a mile short of the 13.1-mile distance;
  • there was no first aid presence for runners after the race;
  • there was only one ambulance, which had to rush five miles to the finish line to treat a runner;
  • insufficient toilet facilities;
  • there was no official start or finish line;
  • the race started 50 minutes late;
  • there were no pacers throughout the race;
  • there were only minimal water stops and they ran out of water at the end;
  • medals that had been advertised ahead of the event didn't arrive in time for the race, so commemorative plaques were offered as alternatives;
  • there were no technical T-shirts for runners.

One man, who asked not to be identified, told the Belfast Telegraph that the event was "a total shambles".

"There was no PA system and the start line was moved three times so we knew the route was going to be changeable in terms of length," he said.

"There were many other problems too - with the distances, the route, the marshals, the water stations, the first aid, the toilets, the car parking, the medals... you name it, there was an issue with it."

Thomas McCallion, runner and instructor from Rise Running Club, said the event was "really, really poor".

"About 100 runners missed the start of the race," he said.

"The race started about 45 or 50 minutes late and a number of runners were left behind because there was no PA system to let them know the race had started.

"There weren't enough marshals on the course and no medics along the route as far as I could see."

Mr Anderson said the organisers had provided 20 race marshals and three water stations on the course. He said they also provided an ambulance, a paramedic and eight first aid personnel, which he said had been stipulated by the authorities.

And he said the Belfast Harbour Police oversaw preparations and could have cancelled the event if they were not satisfied with how it had been organised.

Athletics Northern Ireland, the governing body for the sport, which met the organisers prior to the race, has now launched an investigation.

"Athletics Northern Ireland clearly indicated important points such as adequate marshalling, water stations, portable toilets, registrations and following through with information such as prizes if this has been clearly stated prior to the race entry," said a statement on its Facebook page.

"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."

The statement added that the matter will be "brought to the board of Athletics Northern Ireland pending further investigation".

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