Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Woman pulled out of race for running too slow

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Woman pulled out of race for running too slow

The annual Spen 20 mile road race in Yorkshire, England was held last Sunday the 16th of March and attracted a field of about 300 runners. As such, it's a pretty low key event and wouldn't get much media attention except for the fact that a slow runner was told that she would have to withdraw from a race.

The race was organised by Spenborough & District AC and started off with one lap of local athletics track. The runner below #185 is Netty Edwards and was one of the last to leave.

At the one mile mile, she was doing about 15 minute per mile pace which would have given a finish time of about 5 hours. In a conversation with the organisers just after that point, she was told that she would have to reach the halfway point of 10 miles in 2 hours if she wanted to continue....i.e. 12 min/mile pace. The organisers reason for this was that they said they couldn't expect race stewards to stay out on the course for 5 hours when 4 hours would usually be the norm.

As it was obvious that she wouldn't make that deadline, she returned to the start and was given a refund of her entry fee. The story might have rested there except for the fact that Netty mentioned it on social media and it went viral!

It may well have petered out at that stage except that someone in the club weighed in with this on Facebook......."I think this is an issue that needs to be raised at the next committee meeting however I stand by what I said one complaint out of 300+ satisfied runners is a 100% record. Perhaps we should notify other race organisers about this person so she won't do our race again or any other races"

This of course just made the situation a whole lot worse as it now seemed that not only was the club removing a runner from the course from being too slow but now they wanted to organise a boycott of that runner as well.

Needless to say, there was a huge backlash against the club for that comment left by a club member. They finally came out with a statement after being in the eye of a media storm for two days.

Maybe if it was 20 or more years ago, someone like Netty doing 15 min mile pace would have been the exception and any complaints would not be seen.

Today, there are a lot of runners especially women who are running in the 11-14 min/mile region who can identify with problems encountered by some slower runners in long distance races and these are encountered here in Ireland....
Race stewards gone from junctions
Water stations empty and gels gone
T-shirts given out at the end of a race are gone or aren't a suitable size.
Water / Goodie bags at the end are gone.

After all the hype has died down, there are probably a few lessons for a lot of race organisers from this....
1) If you are going to take money off someone for a race entry then treat them the same as the faster runners.
2) If you need to enforce a time limit then let people know in advance.
3) Think about what is said on social media and its consequences before anything is posted.

Some of the media sites where the story was carried.....
Womens Running
Athletics Weekly
The Guardian


Anonymous said...

And the other side of the story - SPEN 20 RACE ORGANISER SPEAKS OUT

Anonymous said...

There is no other side of the story. The vice chairman of that club suggested that race organisers should boycott her because she complained.

Gerard said...

In fairness to those who volunteer to marshall at races, there is a point when they are entitled to call it a day and go home.
Maybe it isn't such a big issue at 4 or 5 mile races, but for a 20 mile race. Fact is she was given an option but decided to get miffed instead.
She wasnt pulled.

Anonymous said...

The problem with posting rants on social media instead of dealing with this privately in an email to the club just draws more attention to the individual in question.
It took her 12hrs and 42mins to do a 30 mile ultra last year!

People like her would put you off volunteering and helping out at events if there is a likelihood somebody is going to throw a strop and drag your name through the mud on social media.

She also got a refund which was pretty decent of the club.