COUNTY NEWS: Half marathon apologises over '˜short' course

An investigation has confirmed that a Sussex half marathon course has been 146 metres short for the last three years, organisers said.

Monday, 3rd April 2017, 10:50 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:16 pm
Brighton half marathon. Photo by Derek Martin

Brighton Half Marathon has attracted thousands of runners each year since it first started in 1990, and organised by HIV charity The Sussex Beacon, it now raises cash for dozens of charities.

This year’s race took place on Sunday, February 26, but organisers said it was contacted by UK Athletics following concerns regarding the length of this year’s course and the course in 2015 and 2016.

UK Athletics’ concerns, organisers said, centred around GPS data. It has since emerged that the ‘area of concern’ was just after mile 4, where the course passes Roedean School before turning and heading back towards Brighton.

Brighton half marathon. Photo by Derek Martin

Organisers said ‘the eastern turning point has been positioned incorrectly over the last three half marathons, resulting in a shortfall in the overall half marathon distance’.

It meant the course has been 146 metres - or 0.09 miles - short for the past three races.

Michael Newton, who ran the half marathon in 2015 said that the news was ‘quite surprising for one of the biggest races.’

He said although it wouldn’t stop him running the race again, he added: “It is a shame for everyone who might be questioning their personal bests now.

“I’m not too bothered personally but it’s a bit of a shame. It wouldn’t stop me doing it again.”

Stephen Ferroni, a Brighton resident said, “I knew a few people who did it. They all got personal bests but it doesn’t count anymore because it’s short.

“They’ve trained for months and gone there prepared for a half marathon. They think they’ve run a PB (personal best), next thing they know, they haven’t.”

Simon Dowe, CEO of the Sussex Beacon, the charity which organises the race, said: “We can’t apologise enough for this mistake. I know it’s hugely disappointing to everyone who trained so hard. I also know that for some, the news will be devastating as it affects race times, personal bests and records. Our thoughts are very much with the runners. I’m so sorry that their remarkable achievements and the money raised for good causes may be overshadowed by this error.”

Martin Harrigan, race director, said: “We are a team of runners ourselves so we fully understand the impact of this news. We are really upset that this mistake has happened and we take full responsibility for this situation. We remain committed to making the 2018 Brighton Half Marathon a great event.”