Luton Marathon

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04/12/2010 at 17:08

I wasn't going to post, but I am thoroughly depressed today and I suppose this is an opportunity to get some things off my chest.

 I am one of the organisers of the Luton Marathon. I have been involved in some capacity or other for six years, and took over the organisation with my wife and some friends from my running club after the 2008 race when the previous organisers decided to step down. Has we not done this, the event would not have continued.

 The organisation that goes into this event is huge, and we are all volunteers. The only reason that we do this is because we love running. The decision to cancel that we took was incredibly hard to do, but we had to make a choice, and we had to do it sooner rather than later, based upon all of the information available to us at that time. We are resonsible for the safety and well-being of all of the runners and also all of our wonderful volunteers who give up their time for no reward to marshal, man the drinks stations and deal with all of the other things that need to be done.

 Had we decided that we were able to go ahead, we would have started at 9:00 this morning getting everything ready for tomorrow, and would expect that to take all day. Tomorrow would have been a 6:00 start, with an anticipated finish of about 19:00. A day's annual leave has been taken for Monday for what would have been the final clear-up.

I know that everyone involved is very disappointed, and has invested a lot into this race. But we had to make a decision. Races have been refused permission on safety grounds even though they have never experienced any issued (such as the Leighton Buzzard 10). If we let it go ahead, and we did have an accident as a result, we would have put the future of the Luton Marathon in jeopardy.

 If we could have guaranteed that the conditions would improve then of course we would have gone ahead. But we couldn't, and neither did we feel we could  leave our decision until after a lot of people would have gone to a lot of effort in getting here, possibly for nothing. 

Since we made the decision,the disappointment has been so great I have been considering long and hard if I want to carry on doing this. I'm not expecting anyones sympathy, but it is the kind comments here and the e-mails of support that we have received that are making the future of the Luton Marathon more positive.

Edited: 04/12/2010 at 17:31
04/12/2010 at 17:44

Very poor decision making by the organisers of this race. We could all see the forecast for Saturday and Sunday and after making a good call to inspect the course on Saturday for some reason without thinking about their customers they got scared.

As race director for 2 races a year I appreciate the stress in organising an event, but having paid my money I would expect the organisers to make every effort to run the race. They do not appear to have done this.

As a repeat customer in the past I will not be entering their race again.

I am expecting a partial refund of my entry fee less any costs they had incurred before they cancelled. 

04/12/2010 at 18:09

....definately must be a tough decision, but probably the correct one at the time of the decision....probably will damage the event for the future as people will have second thoughts about enterin, but hope this, and the backlash, does not put the organisers off....i couldnt comprehend the time and effort that goes into such events that these people do - for the 'love of the game'....

04/12/2010 at 18:29

Everyone appreciates the efforts of all volunteers. If it was a 10k or 5k no one would be bothered, there are plenty more races in the calendar.

Perhaps it would make it easier for us if you could describe why you cancelled it yesterday given the forecasted weather? The website hasn't given any detailed information.

Also seeing conditions this morning, why not reverse the decision ? A significant majority could still have made it.

Two years ago it was cancelled because you had to be a 4:30 marathoner (80% of people based on previous years) for it complete before it got dark. This year it seems it was cancelled for those travelling a long distance. You could argue that its all or nothing, but I would say let some do it..
04/12/2010 at 19:39


All your efforts and those of others are to be supported and praised. I for one will be desperate to enter again and please don't be put off, Luton is a much loved and respected marathon on the calendar.

Of course a lot of us were prepared for a big race that took much preparation on your part and those of entrants. It is only human nature to be frustrated.

It was a tough call for you and the runners!  I think the only bit of hindsight would be to wait until the Saturday pm as you originally planned, if conditions are dodgy again. People who travel very long distances and book hotels take their own risks when they choose to enter a race.

Whatever happens we will nearly all want to run this one again!   

04/12/2010 at 21:48
hey Supershins

i am sure most of the negative stuff on here is cathartic and on reflection people will accept the decision was made in everyone's best interests. as you know, runners are generally a responsible lot and strong enough to cope with all sorts of challenges, including this one

the efforts of you and all the other volunteers are strongly appreciated and i feel for your disappointment at the time and energy spent. take some consolation from the fact that having the Luton on the calendar keeps many of us going as the nights draw in

i really hope you keep the plan in place for 2011. a december marathon is not without these risks, but please dont be discouraged.

see you next year
cougie    pirate
04/12/2010 at 21:59
Sh*t happens. If you enter a marathon in December you accept the risk of bad weather possibly cancelling the race. That's winter for you. The organisers are doing their best and snow can be incredibly localised - not much here but just three miles away it's like Narnia, so you just never know. Thanks to the organisers for willing to do a thankless task.
04/12/2010 at 22:18

Supershins - I was one of the folks entered for tomorrow's marathon - I completely respect your decision to cancel the event. Only yesterday I was stranded in Dublin awaiting return flights to UK after 3 days delays - It was a pain, but I now realise that the weather can change quickly and dramatically - you and your organising committe must have made a a judgement call based on the forecast at the time and with the intention to avoid travel distress or late cancellations... fair play to you for taking a brave decision with the full realisation that outdoor sporting events require careful forward planning and need to take into accout the vagiaries of the weather. Folks, lets all respect this tough decision and applaud the effort made by the organisers for a truly difficult call, made after much deliberation.

Supershines - Please accept our thanks for organising the event - we appreciate your efforts, and truly hope you will be able to summon up the energy and enthusiasm to host a truly magnificent Luton Marathon 2011... bring it on !! Please!!

Edited: 04/12/2010 at 22:30
04/12/2010 at 22:33
JugglingJunky wrote (see)
.... I think anyone is only too aware of the risks of adverse weather when signing up for a marathon in December but has accepted them when handing over the money - this also includes the risk of unwanted hotel and travel bookings should the race not go ahead.
With this in mind, there needs to be a very good reason to cancel such an event due to possible adverse conditions and in my opinion the assessment of the race conditions should have been made at the latest possible stage to give everyone the best chance of running. Very frustrating

Absolutely agree with that Junky & what cougie said.

On the upside i guess it means i'm Herts County Marathon Champion for another year!?

 Merry Xmas & Maybe see ya next year

05/12/2010 at 00:33
billo, your are an arse.

05/12/2010 at 00:44
Supershines, there are huge numbers of people who put in effort all over the country to make races work. They know who they are and the people who appreciate them, respect them full stop. There are people who moan about anything. You would not have cancelled it without taking into account all that has happended in the last few days country wide.
Ignore morons. The last thing I want is for a club to lose money on a race, as I know we dont do it for profit. Far as I'm concerned, you can keep the entry fee to cover the cost and give the rest to the pasque charity.
I hate moaners with a vengence. Idiots like the last one are not worth the effort to argue with. Long live the luton marathon!!!!!
05/12/2010 at 01:17

Yes sh*t does happen and the organisers had to make a decision but people are perfectly entitled to have a moan and get things off their chest. Many of us will have trained for this for months and invested significant time/effort in the prep so having a moan is needed to let off some steam.

People have every right to have a rant it if makes them feel better and i'm sure the race organisers have a thick enough skin to take it on the chin. Unfortunately we can't all be as saintly as you Taff Boy, i won't have the chance to run a marathon until autumn 2011 now and can't really afford to chuck £23 down the drain!

05/12/2010 at 02:17
tom20, and everyone else. love running. I love marathons. I love anyone who has the nerve to lace up a pair of shoes to get out the front door, to run a mile. Or two. Or three or more. I will argue to the day I die, how much pleasure running has given me. I stand up and argue for any runner, And the team behind them.
What I cant stand, is people who just moan.
None of us really wanted the race not to start. Who trains for any long distance event without long term planning?
So, I stand full square behind the team who organised this event. Thank you thank you thank you. Its a crying shame to those who trained for their first ever marathon, and they are the peeps I really feel sorry for.
05/12/2010 at 02:47

Yep, its a thankless task Supershins. I was entered in the relay so disappointed its off.

Did think it was a tad hasty to call it off that early - that was the general consensus today at the Chiltern League cross country..BUT had it gone sub zero again overnight it was bound to be icy.

Hey ho - fingers crossed the Bedford half survives next weekend!!

05/12/2010 at 06:42

On the Friday after it was called off I replied to the email thanking them for letting me know and my understanding of the decision, both for runners, organisers, marshalls and spectators.

However, on reflection, I too am a little bit annoyed that the initial statement was for a Saturday inspection, but this changed to a decision 24 hours earlier. Now given the conditions on Friday morning you would have always called it off...if those conditions remained for the next 48 hours...but they didn't. 24 hours later, at the time of the original planned inspection, the conditions around the country for travelling improved, and although I cannot comment on the course conditions I expect they were much better then, and they are even better now. (EDIT: Just looked on the BBC weather site - Luton looked to have stayed around freezing overnight, but some fog patches, although in my opinion this is weather you could expect this time of year anyway, and if there was a good thaw yesterday a zero degree night wouldn't have been too bad).

Please don't think this is a criticism of anyone organising the event, more a criticism of the process they have had to follow. I wonder if the decision wasn't entirely theirs, and maybe the council / police etc may have had a say? Speculation on my part, but I'd expect them to be part of any safety consultation.

On the subject of personal sacrifice by the organisers, again I totally understand that - having worked on a voluntary basis for a sporting organisation in the past I'm only too aware of how much time can be taken up just because you love and enjoy what you do. However, we runners too have also made sacrifices, both in time and money (I had a non-refundable hotel room booked in Luton, so I'm £44 down), and we were hoping that teh event would be given every chance to be run. In hindsight maybe leaving it until the original time of Saturday would have meant a different decision.

But hindsight is something none of us have, so we have to accept the decision and get on with our running - as many have said a tough decision to make, and maybe one that had to be made at the time, but the real question many are asking is why that time?

Again, thank you for doing your best to organise the race, and the effort it has took.

Edited: 05/12/2010 at 06:47
05/12/2010 at 07:13

Taff Boy,

 Grow Up. There is no place on this thread for such childish posts.

funkin-baby    pirate
05/12/2010 at 07:34

I've been looking forward to this race for a few months.  I've had my best ever training coming into this week and was aiming along with a couple of friends to get London GFA times at Luton.  I'm not a seasoned marathoner (done three previously - one standalone and two in Ironman races) and was really looking forward to getting a PB under my belt.

When the snow came down (I live in west London) on Wednesday night and looking at the ice rink we have for local roads/pavements I started to doubt very much that the race would take place.

Although the forecast looked like it was going to warm up on Saturday I doubted very much that it would warm up enough to thaw the ice.  I slowly resigned myself to the fact that the organisers were bound to cancel - and make the right decision at that.

So, Friday morning and decision made.  I said to myself 'good call' - it must be awful to make a decision like that but safety has to come first - even if we've all signed disclaimer stuff on our entry forms.  By the time the announcement was made mentally I was no longer ready to race on Sunday.

Saturday morning came - our street was like an ice rink and I headed off to Bushy parkrun.  The place was the icyest and most dangerous I've ever seen it.  We had 330+ people who pretty much had to run on the grass beside the main path because it was so slippery.  Looking at this and thinking that if the conditions in Luton were 10% of what they were in Bushy Park then the cancellation was by far the right decision.

Tough call but well done for making it.  I support the decision that was made, even though it messes up my marathon race plans for many months to come.  I don't hold any blame on the organisers.  As for whether I'd enter it next yet - quite possibly - the training for it has done wonders for my run fitness and has now set me up nicely for 2011 - without having to endure the pain of walking down stairs on Monday morning!

05/12/2010 at 10:06
Billo, I'm sorry. Bit of a heated post. I really don't like people who moan but I accept everyone has the right to make a point. Please accept this apology.
05/12/2010 at 11:31

Thank you, all of you.

 Yes, you have got every right to be upset, and disappointed, and angry. And you need to let that out. I'm definitely not asking anyone not to voice their criticisms, but the Luton Marathon is a personal project, and it is very difficult indeed to be objective.

I wish the race could have taken place. I wish I was now sat in a rented Transit driving up and down the A6 and worrying if the plastic cups are going to run out. I would welcome all of that stress and work right now.

We had to balance up the requirements of everyone who had entered, and when we made our call we were as sure as we could be that we wouldn't be able to put on a safe event. My own fear isn't getting sued, it's being responsible for an injury (or worse) to a fellow runner. Cancelling it when we did let us - and actually it was Elaine who took it all on - to try to contact everyone who had entered. 800 marathon runners and 140-ish relay teams, all who needed to be told, hopefully received an e-mail or a phone call. We had to weigh up what was best for everyone, and whilst that means some people will be more unhappy than others, I stand by our decision.

Stephen, you're obviously also local, and I totally understand your calls for us to put the event back on. But I can only reiterate that when the decision was made, we were convinced that the race wasn't going to be possible, and  Saturday afternoon would not have given us the time to do everything that is needed to put the race on.

Right now, everything is still pretty raw, and I for one am very upset. But I am really grateful to everyone who has sent messages of support, and who has backed us up here.

Please keep an eye on the website, as we will be considering where we go from here over the next few days, and we will keep you posted.

05/12/2010 at 12:37

Really feel for you Supershins, and for all the disappointed runners who'd trained so hard.

Hindsight is always 20:20, and as organisers you took the best decision you could at the time, with the best of intentions.

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