Thursday, 23 July 2015

So - what can we learn...

Dear Phil,

I am very encouraged to hear that not only have you guaranteed that no-one will be disqualified on the day, but that those runners who will take longer than six hours to complete the race have been contacted individually and advised of the cut off. This is a good move, and I very much appreciate the time you have taken to do this.

I am not unsympathetic to the amount of work and logistical difficulty there must be in organising a marathon. I always make a point of thanking marshalls and volunteers at any races I take part in (arguably this is one of the perks of being a slower runner) - even if all I can manage is a 'thumbs up.' Without volunteers running events wouldn't happen. Incidentally, I have had at least six people approach me to say they would be happy to marshall at the event and would be very happy to stay longer to encourage the slower runners to complete. I think there is a real appetite to support slower runners and you are missing a trick (not to mention a profit) if you don't cater to them. 

My experience of the running community in Hull has been that it is mostly very encouraging to slower runners, and, if you asked the clubs to come together to help put on a fully inclusive event, I bet they would rise to the challenge.

I understand that the route cannot be changed at this point and you have made it very clear that you are not prepared to extend the six hour cut off.

At this point then, I wonder if it's worth thinking about 2016?

Inclusivity is important; I am encouraged that you have acknowledged this. Hull is a city with issues surrounding obesity, disability and lack of opportunity. However, it is also a city focussed on positive change - and is blessed with a vibrant and close-knit running community and a wonderful general public who are down-to-earth and proud of their city. These are great raw materials for anyone entrepreneurial and passionate about social change!

The 2017 City of Culture is just around the corner, and you are organising a new event. Why not take the opportunity for this to be a benchmark festival of running that promotes physical activity? You could host events all weekend - 5k colour or zombie run (how much fun would that be? Especially at somewhere like Fort Paull), an old-school style sports day event for teams from local businesses in one of the parks, childrens' events involving schools - there are a multitude of suggestions that could make our 'Festival of Running' fun, vibrant and - most importantly - celebrate everyone's achievements. It would really set Hull apart from the other city marathons. Why not look at setting up an organisation that supports local runners to work towards their Festival of Running / Hull Marathon goals all year? 

If you harness the bigger picture you will be contributing massively towards improving fitness levels in the city - and improving your profits at the same time. Slower runners pay just as much to enter races as faster ones, and just think how many more of us there are. You may even find you are eligible for lottery funding, because of the improving health outcomes aspect.

I am passionate, however, that the marathon, as the main event, becomes properly inclusive. There should not be a glass ceiling for us slower runners who train just as hard as those who complete under 5 hours, but are just not that fast (yet - or older runners who have been faster but are slowing down, and still want to compete.) There are plenty of other big city marathons - would it not be a great idea to set Hull apart by it's inclusivity?

With regard to the route as it stands, I understand what you say about running through private land. Going forward, I think there are three suggestions I would make on this point:

1) Plan a route that does not run through private land, so that any runner needing to take pedestrian status would be able to run on the paths and complete their marathon.

2) The opposite - plan a route whereby a lot of the final miles of the route is on private land at the end of the race, but with an expectation that it would stay open for longer, thus minimising road closures. Brighton Marathon has a very similar policy.

3) With regards to Hull specifically, if you wish to keep the same route next year, would it be possible to run the race the opposite way round - so that ABP's Albert Dock and Sirius Academy are cleared and able to close at the beginning of the day? It's not good enough that you can't guarantee that everyone can finish, and may cause problems on the day. Imagine running 24 miles and finding the gates shut to the next bit!

Cut Off Times:
With regard to cut off times, I can honestly see the argument for no cut off at all, but I understand that this is logistically impossible. So, why not set the cut off slightly longer - say 7 hours (ideally 8) - but have a policy to enable us slowcoaches to finish? I believe it's perfectly acceptable to say that you expect runners to be able to at least jog significant parts of the route. It's fine to delineate that it's not a walking marathon as there are separate events held for walkers. There are not separate events for slower runners, sadly.

Summing up some of the other suggestions that have been made to date:

- set the slower runners off first, ensuring that everyone completes at around the same time.

- ensure the route has footpaths so that slower runners can complete by path, if they cannot complete within the cut off time. This means that roads do not need to be closed any longer than necessary.

- ask marshalls if they would stay longer to support the slower runners, and put these people at the stations in the final few miles of the race? Arguably, this is where the party is, and slow runners really need and appreciate marshall encouragement. It is likely to be a lot of fun.

- organise marshalls to work shifts with some starting later than others, to cover all aid stations. 

- I receive the parkrun newsletter and it was suggesting that marshalls in the early stages of the race will be finished by 10.30am. If their volunteering ends at 10.30am, could you ask if some would be prepared to go to the later stages of the marathon to support the slower runners?

As I hope you can see, there are lots of ways the marathon can become more inclusive, and these do not extend road closures or inconvenience volunteers.

Race Information:
Whatever you decide, it's vital that information is clear, consistent and in the places one might expect on the website. In future, can I suggest that cut off information is clear in the Terms and Conditions page, the Runner Information Page, and especially on the payment mechanism (currently hosted through 

It's also vital that the systems of the website don't undermine these policies - for example, being able to estimate a 7 hour+ finishing time when you pay, when there is a 6 hour cut off. This should bring up a call-out box highlighting the cut off time. I am sure this would be easy to programme.

Can I also suggest that you add a FAQs page? This could include a question about being a slower runner, and would give you the opportunity to showcase your commitment to inclusivity.

As our sport becomes more popular, the way slower runners are dealt with is going to become a hot cookie and you have an opportunity to be a market leader in this regard. My personal belief is that marathons should be about *effort* rather than time; with an acknowledgement that the back of the pack runner has to work harder to achieve a 12 minute mile pace than someone who can run faster. We're not slow because we're lazy or don't train!

I also believe that adults should be able to set their own goals.

In future, I'd be happy to help, if I can. All I want is to maximise participation. Give me a call if you would like to ask the perspective of a slowcoach. My power-to-weight ratio may be a Bentley with an 800cc engine, but I am as keen as a bean (a runner bean. Geddit?) 

Let's do this!

I'll see you on the 13th September - and I hope to have a double thumbs-up just for you, Phil. Thank you for taking this on board, as busy as I am sure you are.

Best wishes


Response Number 2 from Hull Marathon

I know people are reading the blog wondering how this saga will end. I've had another response from Phil Haskins, the Race Director of Hull Marathon. Like I have said previously, I have called them out on their inclusivity stance, so it is only fair that I give them the right of redress. My purpose is to maximise participation in the Hull Marathon (and running events in general), and healthy debate is an effective way to make our voices heard.

Anyway - here you go! I will be responding again, and will post my response here later this evening.

I am enjoying hearing all your opinions both here and on Twitter. This has certainly divided opinion. The vast majority of messages I have had have been supportive though. You know you're creating waves when the CEO of parkrun starts following you! (I'm not being obsequious here - but parkrun have managed inclusivity brilliantly. It's possibly because of them that I have been minded to speak out.)

Claire x


Dear Claire,

Thanks for that response.

We would like the event to become a good and inclusive running event for people both locally and afar. But in order to make it an event which works on a number of levels for runners, spectators and residents alike we feel that we have to set out some ground rules. One of these will be the 6 hour time limit before roads reopen. 

Course Opening: 
You asked about the course passage. You may wish to bear the following things in mind but as we haven’t done the event before, it is difficult to be precise with all timings of when areas will be open/closed. 

It is likely that for up to 30 minutes after the sweep vehicle/cyclists moving at 6 hour pace pass by, there will be marshals around the course. Given that your estimated finish time is 6 hours 30, I would like to think they will be still be around and supporting you as they progressively stand down. Our sweep marshals will also make us aware of any post time limit runners.

Should you fall behind the sweep vehicle, until Sirius Academy (Mile 21) the course will be open i.e. you would be able to run on the pavements. Beyond the 6 hour cut off i.e. around 13.45 we can’t guarantee that the school might not close its gates and in particular the passage through the school itself. Equally, I imagine that there will be an additional 30 minutes beyond the time limit while the relay station packs up etc.

You can then follow the route until ABP’s Albert Dock at mile 24. Because this is a commercial operation i.e. a company which has kindly let us use their site for the period of the marathon, I imagine that the gates to the dock will be closed fairly shortly after the 6 hour cut off (around 14.45) to enable them to continue with their normal operations. There is however a footpath which runs around the dock and then along English Street to Commercial Road. This runs parallel to the course route. We could look to have a marshal here to direct you and any others.

The rest of the route to the end can be navigated via pavements.

In short, as you can see, I can’t guarantee that you will run the exact route as the other runners if you fall behind the sweep vehicles, but one that will be approximately equal in length. You will be able to get to the end and cross the line having done a marathon distance. No-one is getting disqualified. However Claire, I think it likely that given you have put down 6 hours 30 as your finishing time, you will reach many of these points fairly shortly after the sweep system and that there will still be people around. 

Website: As mentioned, the 6 hour time limit has been on the website in the Runners Information ever since we launched. I recognise though that this wasn’t in our Terms and Conditions which we hadn’t properly expanded upon on the site and will be aiming to rectify this in the coming days as we do appreciate your point that it’s important to make these things as visible as possible. 

We have contacted those 8 people who have put a finish time of over 6 hours on their entry forms. 2 have currently got back to me and both are understanding of the limit.

I note your point about 18 weeks of training but would also ask you to understand the over 18 months of work that has gone into this event from both myself and my team of volunteers, who are not counting the opportunity costs of their substantial involvement. 

This is currently a very busy period for us as a team as we get to the critical stages of organising the event but I have taken the time to respond as I appreciate the efforts you are putting in to get to the starting line. We will do our best to support you to get over the finish line and I’m sure it will be a great experience but we will be doing so under the rules and guidelines we have established and been working to for the last 2 years. 

Kind Regards


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Update - there is no update

Hello, Internet!

I've not yet had a response from Hull Marathon to the letter I sent on Monday evening. I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, I wanted to cut and paste this piece, from a Hull runner, who articulated the issue very well.

Thanks again for the support - I'm blown away. I did a tough 12 miles this morning, and will go out again for another 6 - 18 miles in one day. It might not be quite how Mo trains, but it's all miles on the legs (and us slower runners need to get creative with our time management; slow running takes longer to train for!)

Claire x


Posted by Rachel Anderson:

"I think there are a couple of separate, but intertwined issues here. 

The first issue is that the organisation of this race has been far from clear. Claire - you've always stated that you check T&Cs closely and wouldn't enter races with cut-offs that 
you couldn't meet or that wouldn't allow headphones. I am sure you did the same this time. Races have cut offs, we all know that, and there is no issue with the concept of a cut off, for whatever logistical reasons necessary, per se. Also, many ban headphones. Again, completely valid. I know that you don't disagree with either of these issues. However, the rules of any race need to be CLEARLY stated from the moment the race is advertised. These rules need to be accessible from standard webpages AND mobile sites. Also, the sign up process must make it clear that these rules exist and, in this instance, should not allow someone to select a estimated finish time of over 6 hours. Given that they are allowing 'slower' runners to sign up then they need to have a workable contingency plan for those runners and CLEARLY state what it is. Currently, this contingency plan is confusing. They need to sort this out and then communicate it to those individuals that it might affect. OK - the race is in its first year and mistakes might be made. It may be that allowing people with estimated finish times of over 6 hours to enter has been an oversight. If so then they the organisers cannot bury their heads in the sand over it; they need to do something about it. Change their webpage and also communicate with those individuals that have already entered about how they intend to proceed. Given that the mistake is theirs I would expect what the do to involve some concession on their part. Ideally, a mechanism by which these runners can finish the race. 

The second issue is a much wider one regarding inclusivity of running as a sport. It is an important issue and one that extends far beyond the Hull Marathon. It is also one that, I fear, is unlikely to be resolved here. However, that doesn't mean you should stop trying. I, personally, think Hull is the perfect place to raise such issues and that the organisers are, to some extent, missing a trick by not doing so. As you know, I'm not from Hull, but I have taken this city as my home and it has its problems. Issues surrounding obesity, disability and lack of opportunity are rife here. Also, it is a city that is trying to pull itself out of the shadows. This is an opportunity to do so; it is a new event in a city where these are hugely pertinent issues. It is also a city that has a vibrant and close-knit running community. My experience is that the different running clubs within Hull (and surrounding areas) make running accessible to a wide range of individuals and are generally very supportive of each other. I truely believe that, if they asked, the running community of Hull would pull together to make this an inclusive event. One that is set apart from others BECAUSE of its inclusivity. There are plenty of other big city marathons; I'm not sure Hull can compete with those. So, why not make itself different? 

The second issue deals with issues of idealism that I don't think will happen. But, that does not mean that these issues shouldn't be raised. The first issue is one that has to be dealt with if the organisers of this marathon want the event to be successful and to continue in future years."

Monday, 20 July 2015

This Girl Can't part 3 - another open letter to Hull Marathon

Dear Mr Haskins,

Thanks for your prompt response to my open letter, I was really encouraged to read it. I did Tweet you the link too, but I'm glad Liz Edgar's message got your attention.

It's clear to me that we have a lot of common ground; we are both passionate about running as a sport and about the Hull Marathon becoming a brilliant event. It's a real opportunity to showcase Hull, isn't it? Let me reassure you that my ONLY motivation is to maximise participation.

I am glad you raise the point about the Hull Marathon being a new and unprecedented event; this is exactly why I have spoken out at this point. You have the power to make whatever changes you wish before people start thinking "well no-one raised this before, so it's not really a problem." As a slower runner, I can see that some of your procedures and policies do make the event, as it is planned, inequitable. I'm reassured to read that your are committed to include all runners regardless of ability. I hope we can find a solution together.

Other cities host marathons with 8 hour cut offs (including London) so it is evidently not impossible. I challenge you and your team to find a creative solution that makes the Hull Marathon become the festival of running it truly could be. Afterall, 1% of the general population complete a marathon in their lifetime. What a shame if, having become one of those 1%, you can't run in your own, local marathon because they deem you too slow. You mention that residents may be unhappy about road closures; I suspect that they'd find it incomprehensible that, if the city roads are shut down, some willing and able marathoners would be excluded from the event, especially those with pluck and balls.

I have two main points in response to your letter.

1) Your information is contradictory. You say I will be able to complete the marathon and be received at the end, and given an official time, medal and t shirt. Brilliant, thank you. Can you confirm that *all* of the course will be open to me? Your runner information states that, if I am asked to leave the race because it looks as though I won't meet the six hour cut off (Pedestrian Status, as your website calls it) "at this point some parts of the course may be closed to public access." This reads to me that you can't guarantee that all of the course will be open to me to run in.  Will it be? If not, I respectfully suggest that it doesn't matter what happens at the end, because I'm not going to be allowed to get to that point.

It's important you clarify this to me, the other slower runners who may well not be aware of the 6 hr cut off, and any marshalls who may interpret the rules rather more aggressively on the day. You need to be aware that, with the website as it is - still accepting estimated marathon completion times of between 6 and 7+ hours and no mention of the cut off on the Ts and Cs - there are going to runners who have already signed up, who have no idea that they may be disqualified mid race.

Assuming just 1% of the 4000 places will take longer than 6 hours to complete (and it could be much higher) that's 40 people, running at the same sort of pace, who will feel utterly humiliated at being told they can no longer run. 40 angry people who have already run ?15 ?20 ?22 miles, who find that part of the course has been shut. That's a lot of angry runners all at once, in one place. And they'd have every right to be furious;

A) being disqualified mid race is humiliating. Slow runners deserve the same respect and dignity as the elite.

B) Slow runners invest their time, energy and money into training for your race. I paid for my place in December, I've already been training for 18 weeks. That's 18 weeks of childcare, 18 weeks of blood sweat and tears. 18 weeks of belief and self doubt. Countless hours gaining sponsorship, hours away from children, hours asking relatives and friends to accommodate your training.

If we take a brief breakdown of just the financial costs -

Entry fee - £35
New running shoes - £120
New Sports bra - £32
Childcare (average of 5 hrs a week for 18 weeks @ minimum wage) - £585
Sports gels / nutrition for long runs and the race, etc - £50 approx
Overnight stay before race - £100
Transport to race - £50

You're probably looking at around a financial investment of around £1,000 per runner just to get to the start line. You can see why people might be cross.

Can you guarantee me that, at the point I am disqualified - or made to take on Pedestrian Status - I will be able to cross the finish line?

Because if you can, I'm in.

Although I'm not hugely sure what the point of disqualifying anyone is, if they can then finish and get their medal, t shirt and official time. But that's up to you. You say I can't run on the paths as the distance might not be accurate, but you won't extend the road closures either. This sounds to me like you *won't* let me finish, and the comments about finishing are tokenistic. I'll let you decide on that and get back to me.

2) You have not addressed the issue of the website. I maintain that it is still not clear enough that there is a cut off. I implore you to add this to the home page, and the Ts and Cs as well as Runner Information. I also ask you, please contact anyone who has already signed up and estimated their time will be 6 hours + and explain to them, in advance of the race, about the cutoff. There is no excuse for hoiking people out in public on the day.

Please can you also stop taking payment from people who will take 6 hours + to complete, if you can't guarantee they will finish. You are not setting out terms to bar entry, you are setting terms to disqualify in race. I bring you back to my point about dignity.

Finally, I appreciate your second offer of a refund or a relay place. I'm going to decline again; I want to run the marathon I paid for. You are making the mistake of assuming I need to run a competitive time in order to be good. I run for the sheer, unadulterated joy of running. I am a marathoner. You can keep my money.

I really hope to hear back from you with good news. You have the power to make this happen. Maybe, if you ask your Marathon Makers, a few would be happy to work later and support slower runners, or work shifts? Maybe we could have this discussion on local radio and ask people what they think? Especially since there are ways you could be inclusive that don't involve extending road closures and inconveniencing volunteers. Also, make this a policy and you have my cast iron guarantee that I will volunteer as a marshall for 12 hours + next year, if necessary, to allow all runners to join in.

Let's make this an amazing event! I'll help however I can, for free.

Best wishes

Claire x

PS no idea what happ

This girl can't part 2 - Hull Marathon's Response

Just wanted to say how blown away by the support I've had on here, Facebook and Twitter. As of now now, 9pm on the 20th July, this page has received over 5,000 views and innumerable retweets and messages of support. I am utterly blown away.

Claire x


Today I received the following response from Philip Haskins, the race director of the Hull Marathon. I have been thinking about how to tackle this and have decided to post all correspondence here. This is simply because, having called Hull Marathon out on their inclusivity stance, I feel it is fair to give equal weight to their response, in the interests of fairness and clarity. I have no axe to grind, I just want to maximise participation.

I will post my response to this letter a bit later this evening, when I've written it (LOL!) I've just got the kids to bed and had my dinner. I was feeling a bit stressed today, so my lovely husband took me to Sweatshop to buy me some new Mizuno Wave Riders to help with my marathon training. This is the man who ran 3 miles back, after finishing his own marathon, to find me and run the last 3 miles of my marathon in with me so I didn't have to do it alone. Yes, I want all of Twitter to know what an awesome guy he is ❤️

And here is the response from Hull Marathon:

Dear Claire,
Thank you for your blog post which was shared to our site by Liz Edgar.
Naturally, we were disappointed to hear of your feelings about our event and your participation, but would obviously like to address some of your points. 
Firstly, it is wrong to say that we don’t want you to participate. We recognise that there will be a broad spectrum of abilities taking part and, as you say, it’s often those people towards the back end of the field who are most worthy of support and encouragement. We are keen to see people use the event as a platform for motivation and self-improvement, people very much like yourself.
Secondly, it is totally wrong to say that the website in December was a two page site. Rather, it has been up with the 20+ pages you see today since mid October 2014. The part about the cut off time, in Runner Information, has been there since the website launch as well. 
Thirdly, the 6 hour cut off time is primarily about road closures and is in no way a reflection on the running ability of those taking part. A large closed road event like this will have significant impact upon the lives of many local residents, many of whom will have little interest or sympathy with marathon runners and it is only fair that we take into account their interests as well. Equally, we will be asking many of our Marathon Maker volunteers (between 400 and 500 of whom are likely to be marshals on the route) to be giving up their time on the day. We will be asking them to arrive early and, as with the residents, we think it unfair to be asking them to extend their duties indefinitely. 
In an ideal world we would love to keep the roads closed but as mentioned above, it is a balancing act between the needs of runners and local residents. We have to draw the line somewhere and, like other major marathons with a largely urban profile such as Chester Marathon and the Manchester Marathon, we have gone with 6 hours. This is especially the case for this first year of running the event when we have no yardstick to compare with and are keen to make sure that everything goes according to plan, though like other aspects of the event, we will review this policy post event.
Furthermore, if you do finish, you will get a time, plus all the other things the other runners will receive such as medal and t-shirt, and there will be people there to receive you at the end. You will not be abandoned.
We note your alternative solutions and will give some consideration to them, but allowing some runners to go off first would require longer road closures and longer stints for volunteers, as the safety of these runners would need to be given the same priority as other runners. The second one i.e. running on paths, would incur the likelihood that an inaccurate distance would be run. We are keen to maintain the integrity of the measurement and the route and can’t have one route for some people and another for others.
My team and I are currently working very hard to make this a good event for both the city and the runners and have tried very hard to be as transparent as possible about our planning and delivery of this event. We are sorry that you feel we haven’t been. As previously mentioned, given the depth of your feelings on this matter, we would be happy to consider a refund. Or you can transfer your entry to another runner. Another alternative might be for this year to consider taking part as a member of a relay team, as many people are doing, and then in future years when your training is more advanced, to take part in the full event.
Again, our cut off policy on this is certainly not a reflection on your efforts which I can see are an inspiration to others, but I hope equally that you can see our point of view as well in trying to deliver a good sporting event which balances the interests of everyone taking part; runners, spectators, residents and volunteers.
Feel free to ring me if you wish to discuss further.
Kind Regards

Philip Haskins
The RB Hull Marathon

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Dear Hull Marathon, AKA This Girl Can't

This is an open letter to Hull Marathon. Please feel free to comment, share, Tweet etc if you support my stance.

Dear Hull Marathon,

My name is Claire. I am a 41 year old local woman. I have been running for 2.5 years and I train in all seasons and all weathers, pounding the local streets. In July 2015 I was chosen as a poster girl for the national #This Girl Can campaign.

I'd imagine I would be exactly the type of person you'd want to be included in your marathon, to be held on September 13th of this year. I was very excited when I bought my place, on New Year's Eve last year. The website was a two page site, that was happy to take my money, and had no terms and conditions on (or at least no race cutoff. I'd have noticed that, given my last Marathon took 6hrs and 50 mins, I'm sure.) So I paid, and, a few weeks ago, I started training. On Thursday I hauled my (not insubstantial) ass around 16 miles of Holderness countryside, and I have a date in my diary next week for 17. I've put my hopes, dreams, blood, sweat, tears and money into preparing for your race.

Imagine my surprise to hear that you don't want me to participate. I am too slow! Yes, despite the fact that your website is still allowing people whose estimated completion time is 7 hours + to pay for a place, and there are no terms and conditions listed (these are the 2 pages I look at when booking a race place), it is hidden in Runner Information that I must be able to complete the marathon in six hours or no banana.

And it is quite literally no banana too. You say that, at any point in which I'm deemed to slow by race organisers, I will simply be asked to leave the race. I can become a Pedestrian, which is awfully generous of you, and collect my bags and race mementoes at the end, but you will withdraw marshall support and first aid (and presumably bananas too, and water.)

That's OK. I can bring my own bananas and water. No biggie. Seems a bit, erm, aggressive though.

This bit makes me laugh though. I can assume "Pedestrian status" at the point in which you ask me to leave the race (DISQUALIFY is the word they use, no?) and "at this point you are no longer in the race and can continue at your own risk" (FINE - well, not fine, given that I've paid and all, but...) and then "at this point some parts of the course may be closed to public access." So I can't complete, can I?

I have paid for my place and you are saying that I can't finish. If I have the temerity to take on pedestrian status, as I will, I can assure you, you reserve the right to close a part of the course so I can't finish. You also point out that you will not display my time in the final event results, which feels a bit, you know, like I'm embarrassing to you.

'Hull woman runs slowly' shocker.

Before you tell me this is about road closures and how you don't want people like me AKA "fatties") to inconvenience the general public, let me make two suggestions.

1) You start off the slower runners first. Anyone who is expecting to complete in 6-8 hrs goes first. Hell, it's chip timed, we're not going to win. I bet we'd even stay to the left to let faster runners overtake. We don't want to spoil the event, we want to participate.

2) You allow 6-8 hour runners complete the marathon by running on the paths. It'll only be for the last 10 miles at most. I run on the paths when I train, this is fine with me. I'd like to be included in the official times, though, given that I actually finished. The hare and the tortoise both finished the race.

Now I'd like to put the case for why you should include slower runners.

Running is an awesome sport. Ultimately, you only compete with yourself. It's free! Four years ago I weighed well over 20 stones. I had a chronic illness and I needed crutches to walk. Then I lost eight stones. (I've put on a bit since, given that I'm menopausal and awaiting a hysterectomy, but that's OK, I did not expect my journey to health to be straightforward. I'm still working on it! I've been medically cleared to run too, if that's your next thought.) I am doing OK for where I am on my own journey. Maybe, in a year or two, I will be able to run a sub 6 hour marathon, but, for now, I want to compete. I can run 26.2 miles. I've paid. Please let me.

I've spent many hours racing at the back of the field. Whilst the elite racers give it their all for 2 or 3 hours, we're giving it our all for 7 or 8! Marathon running is an endurance sport. Us slowcoaches are masters of endurance.

We are lively, full of character, supportive. The back of the field really demonstrates the very best about humanity. We encourage each other. We run alongside runners raising money for charities close to their hearts - showing names and photos of deceased friends and relatives, often tragically young. Runners who will endure substantial discomfort in order to raise money to help others.

The back-of-the-pack runners hold stories of amazing personal challenge; weight lost, running despite lack of support, through the jibes of errant children, through injury and disability. Through emotional, social, and psychological barriers as well as the physical ones.

Hull has one of the highest rates of obesity and lowest rates of adults participating regularly in sport. Whilst many of us (myself included) can admire the achievement of the elite runners, it doesn't inspire us to change our own behaviour that much. I'm inspired just as much by the horse that wins the Grand National, as I have an equal chance of being like them. What does inspire others to have a go is someone a bit like them. Someone they can relate to. I think you're missing an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of *all* runners, and the chance to provide a springboard to encourage new runners to have a go too. What a wonderful legacy of the Hull Marathon that would be!

At its bare bones it comes down to an issue of equality (dare I say - discrimination?) The back runners are, disproportionately - older runners, women, new runners, charity runners, those recovering from illness or injury, those with disabilities (obvious and hidden), walkers, run walkers and so on. Are you able, both legally and in good conscience, to exclude these people? Because, if you are, I suggest you make it explicit on the front page of your website (and your Ts and Cs) and stop taking payment from people who estimate they will take over six hours to finish. It's disingenous (and many more things besides.)

This is a public event, supported by the council (who, one might assume, would be compelled to support equality in local events.) I'm not asking to pop round the the race organiser's barbeque and have a bite of his sausage. I want to run in the event I've paid for. If I hadn't noticed the cut off and emailed the race organisers I'd still be none the wiser and would be unexpectedly (and it would be dreadfully humiliating) told on the day that I had to stop.

I have made this point by email and you offered me a refund. I do not want a refund; I am a local runner and I want to run my local marathon, the one I have paid for. I will be turning up, and I will be completing as a pedestrian if necessary. I'll bring my own bananas, water, medal if needs be and I'll run on the path.

This girl most certainly can, and she will. I am sorry if that is inconvenient. I'm not just doing it for myself - I'm making the case for the inclusion of ALL runners who want to be there. 20% of London Marathon runners finished between 5 and 8 hours.

You know what they say - never mess with a woman who runs 26.2 miles for fun. A 14 minute mile is as far as a 9 minute mile. I can endure this.

I'd be very grateful if you would reconsider your stance.

Many thanks

Claire Boynton