Opinion: No water to run a race

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There’s no doubt that it was a fiasco, and worse, a fiasco that could’ve been avoided, but that wasn’t the whole story on the streets of Sheffield yesterday.

The ‘roguerunners’ have certainly earned their place in the city’s folklore.

For this hardy bunch, who’d trained wet and windy day in and day out through a gloomy winter,‘cancelled’ isn’t a word in their vocabulary. ‘Can’t run? Just watch us’ was the 5,000-strong collective response when, rather late in the day, organisers tried to pull the plug on the event they’d been focused on for so long.

For them there was a lot resting on this race, and not just the possibility of personal bests and beating the clock. For many it was an emotional, as well, as physical challenge with hundreds of people running for a legion of good causes desperately in need of funds.

Ironically, once people had eventually realised what was happening, the atmosphere surrounding the event was even better than usual.

Sheffielders in their droves rallied round and did their best to make sure the ‘roguerunners’ completed the course safely by offering roadside drinks and sweets to the athletes as they past by.

And so the race passed off with a mixture of confusion, anger, disappointment and shame at a showpiece event that decended into farce, and pride at the way the city responded.

So what went wrong? Yes organisers were let down by water supplier, but where was the Plan B?

Things do go wrong, but it was the lack of communciation - astonishing in this day and age - that angered so many participants and spectators. Early call outs on social media may have rallied people to step in to deliver water to key stations along the route.

The event has been run successfully for 32 years and we hope lessons are learned all round and it continues to be a big attraction in the city’s calendar.

It’s a real shame that it was this year, the year that one of the world’s great sporting spectacles, the Tour ds France, comes to the city that it all went so wrong.