Sheffield Half Marathon refund row

Confusion at the start line of the Sheffield Half Marathon.
Confusion at the start line of the Sheffield Half Marathon.
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Runners in the botched Sheffield Half Marathon have blasted organisers who say they can now apply for a refund... but the money will come out of charity coffers.

Participants have been sent a letter by race organisers which states they can ask for a refund of their entry fee - but will be taking money from the event’s charities if they do so.

The charities include Sheffield Children’s Hospital, St Luke’s and Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

The letter states: “Despite cancellation on the day, we trust you will appreciate the full event infrastructure was still provided. Those costs still had to be met.

“Once these costs are taken from the entry fee income, any residue is donated to the 10 benefitting charities to further the good causes they support. Therefore, any refunds will inevitably have to come directly out of money that would otherwise go to charity.”

The letter also adds that, should the value of refund requests exceed the amount in the charity pot, refunds will be paid on a pro-rata basis only.

Runner Alasdair Menmuir, aged 32, from Heeley, said people are being made to feel guilty for wanting a refund. He said: “It’s a disgrace - basically a massive guilt trip.

“I’m caught in a dilemma – obviously I don’t want to punish any charities, but I do want my money back.”

Mark Lee, 43, from Dronfield, said it was wrong runners or charities should suffer.

“They are trying to pressure people not to ask for a refund,” he said. “I don’t want the charities to suffer, but I don’t want to suffer as an individual either.”

The race on April 6 ended in farce after it was cancelled as runners stood on the starting line waiting to set off.

The Sheffield Half Marathon organising committee claimed they had been let down by the water supplier who failed to deliver race water on the day.

But Water Direct said the organisers had not paid for the water.

The letter still fails to explain what actually happened. “Despite having placed the order for the delivery, the water was not delivered,” it says.

An announcement was made over the public address system 45 minutes after the race was due to start, telling runners it was cancelled. But thousands of runners who could not hear it set off anyway.

Alasdair, a member of Steel City Striders club, said: “I think I’m going to vote with my feet by refusing to enter next year. What they are offering is no choice at all.”

Fellow runner Christian Evans, 21, from Kelham Island, added: “I won’t take the refund because I’m not taking money away from charity. But it is the organisation’s fault – and they should never have got it wrong in the first place.”