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:
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.
The RB Hull Marathon