Half-marathons grouped start branded insane

Half-marathons grouped start branded insane

Concerns have been raised over the safety of an “insane” mass start of around 250 runners at a half-marathon.

The Indian Queens Half Marathon held on Sunday in Cornwall did not feature a staggered start as recommended by Covid-19 safety advice.

One runner in the event, John Barnes, said he was “surprised” to see so many people congregating at the start.

The race director said she believed she had followed guidance and any breach was unintentional.

Current advice from UK Athletics and Run Britain states “mass starts are not permitted”, suggesting staggered starts instead.

The race is part of the Cornwall Road Running Grand Prix and had chip timing, which means times can be tracked and compared even if they do not start at once.

Cornwall Council confirmed it had allowed the event to go ahead after being told a staggered start would be in operation.

Mr Barnes said he moved to the back of the starting pack and claimed many others were “confused” by the way the race was organised.

He said it “didn’t make sense” to have so many people setting off at once “given we’re supposed to be socially distanced.”

Runner Davey Green posted a video of the start of the race to Facebook which has had more than 8,200 views.

He said this was “simply not how you organise a Covid safe event”.

He added: “On the day it all went wrong and was avoidable and repairable, with a delayed kick-off and staggered starts.”

One response to the video read: “This NHS frontline stressed worker, who is spending Christmas alone to keep my family safe, would like to thank the organisers of that insane event from the bottom of my very disappointed heart.”

A spokeswoman for Cornwall Council said the event was approved based on plans which said “mask wearing and social distancing, including staggered start times, would be followed”.

“We also spoke to the event organiser to stress the importance of adhering to these Covid-secure measures to ensure everyone’s safety,” she added.

Alison Beare, Indian Queens Half Marathon race director, said she believed she was following the advice.

She said she had “poured over many variations” of guidelines from the government and UK Athletics and argued “mixed messages” were being sent out.

Ms Beare pointed to government coronavirus guidance on sport which states: “Event organisers should consider rolling start times to allow social distancing to be maintained.”

She added the race was organised so congregation on the start line was brief and she had advised runners to wear masks for the start in advance.

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