2008 Luton Marathon Cancelled

Photo of the car blocking the Luton Marathon course at Streatley

As the Chairman of Stopsley Striders Jogging Club, I share with everyone the sadness and disappointment of having to cancel the Luton Marathon and Three Stage Relays today.
The events that led to the cancellation were totally outside of the control of the organisers and could not have been mitigated against.
As you may be aware by now, our Chief Marshall, was completing his final circuit of the course to ensure that all the marshalls were at their points, when he came across a motor car on its roof completely blocking the road into Streatley from the A6. No person was injured as a result of this accident.
The Police commander for the event was immediately informed and sent officers directly to the scene. The car had hit black ice, lost control and turned over. A recovery vehicle was called to the scene to clear the vehicle. That recovery vehicle then had difficulty in dealing with the car, as the road surface had deteriorated and it could not get purchace on the road surface its self. A second recovery vehicle was then called to assist the first.
During these events I as Health & Safety / Course Director and Dave Young, our Race Director, were in constant communication with the Police and our Chief Marshall at the scene. The time estimates for recovering the vehicle grew longer and longer. As the time extended so our window of opportunity for staging the race in daylight grew shorter and shorter.
A group consisting of the Race Director, Health & Safety/ Course Director, Race Referee, Chief Scrutineer and Race Results Director was convened, whilst still in direct contact with the Police & Chief Marshall at the scene. Many options were considered and discussed.
The decision we took was based on the safety and welfare considerations for all of the runners, as well as the welfare considerations for all of the volunteer marshalls and helpers. We had to look not just at the time we were making the decision, but forward five hours plus and project what the prevailing conditions would have been then. Apart from the natural deteriortion in temprature, we would have run out of daylight. This was our major concern. The alteration of the route was considered, again there were health and safety issues as well as distance issues, which prevented this being an option.
Over many years our main organisers Dave Young and John Catlin have through hard work developed these races into a Gold Standard event. Highest on their priorities has always been the safety and welfare of all those involved.
I know that this decision was the hardest either of them has had to make. The work and sacrifice both of them has put in this past year and over the years, has been truely astonishing. However by making this decision, they have maintained the integrity of the Luton Marathon and Three Stage Relays, as an event anyone can participate in, with the knowledge the organisers place safety and welfare, above all other considerations.
I do hope that all of you concerned understand and appreciate why this saddest of all decisions had to be made.
If anyone wishes to discuss the cancellation further with me, I am happy to do so through either the Luton Marathon or Stopsley Striders e-mail sites. I would ask that competitors keep and eye on the Luton Marathon Site where further detail in respect of the refund policy will be posted in due course.
I thank you all for your understanding and the way you all received the disappointing news. It was a great testament to the attitude of runners in general. I do hope that we will see you entering our event in 2009.

Tony Green
n – Stopsley Striders. 07/12/2008

I would like to reiterate the comments of Tony Green, my Course Director and Health & Safety Officer of the Luton Marathon as well as my club Chairman.
Today’s decision to abandon the Luton Marathon was forced upon us by events totally beyond the control of anyone involved with the organisation of this event. The inevitable decision was not taken lightly and only after considerable consultation with the Police, John Catlin – Entries Secretary, Tony Green - Course Director, the Race Referee, and BARR Race Scrutineer. It was a tough decision to have to make but our paramount concern was, and always has been, the safety of all runners taking part, the public at large and the numerous volunteers out on the course who were doing their bit to make your event as safe and enjoyable as possible.
The race committee and the majority of volunteers involved are all club runners and know only too well how much effort goes into training for a marathon and the disappointment of not being able to achieve your personal goals. This frustration was felt by all of us.
I do not wish to dwell on the work that goes in to putting forward an event such as ours since, since as runners and many of you race organisers, you will be only too well aware. However, had we allowed the event to go ahead, a good many of you would have been completing your race in the dark. In addition, the conditions would have deteriorated and the course could well have become slippery (and possibly dangerous) as the temperatures fell to below freezing once again. It would have been unreasonable for us to have expected the marshals, Police, St John Ambulance and Drinks Station personnel to have remained out on the course for the additional time period required (at least 6 hours).
All options were considered, but no satisfactory solution was available and the decision to cancel was the right choice.
On behalf of the organising committee and everyone involved, I am indebted to all of you who turned up today to take part. The spirit with which you took the news was humbling to say the least and for that I am grateful.
A decision has been made to refund all entry fees and this is something that will take some time to accomplish so your patience will be appreciated.
Each year we make a donation to the Pasque Hospice, a local hospice for both children and adults suffering from terminal cancer. The work they do is outstanding and a great comfort to both patients and their families. Clearly, as a result of today’s unfortunate events the amount we will be able to donate will be greatly reduced. Some of you have already expressed a wish that your race entry should be donated to the Pasque Hospice and the organising and I on behalf of the organising committee will ensure that your wishes are carried out.
If anyone else would like to do the same I would ask that you send me an email at lutonmarathon@ntlworld.com providing you name and race number and I will ensure that your entry fee is forwarded accordingly. As an alternative, you may wish to transfer your entry to next years race in which event kindly confirm and appropriate arrangements will be made. If I do not hear from you during the course of the next couple of weeks it will be assumed that you would wish to have your entry fee refunded and this will be sent to you as soon as is reasonably as possible.
In the meantime, thank you for your support.

Kindest Regards,
David Young
Race Director