Dunfermline half marathon faces end of the road
THE Dunfermline Half Marathon will NOT go ahead this year and there are doubts whether it will ever run again.
One of the biggest events in the city's calendar, it has been cancelled due to rising costs of more than £20,000, course problems and the lack of a title sponsor.
The number of entries was also expected to dip as the Run Dunfermline race director admitted athletes want "a different challenge".
John Martindale said, "It's sad and it was a very hard decision but it won't go ahead this year.
"Pure and simple running events are not what people want any more.
"They're looking for more of a challenge, more entertainment, they want to run through mud or climb obstacles and there's more choice now.
"The Edinburgh Rock n Roll marathon, for example, will have a band at every mile of the course and a big dance that evening."
He continued, "We've been running a traditional, classical half marathon that has attracted top-class athletes and the Scottish championships and been recognised at international level.
"I'm proud of that but we had less than 600 entries last year and with costs going up almost across the board, you can't put money on the entry fee as that could be enough to stop people entering.
"We're having a review and it's possible the half marathon will return next year.
"But we have to recognise we are in the entertainment business and have to make people want to come and run here in preference to another event elsewhere."
Dunfermline's first half marathon was held in 1985 and was revived by Mr Martindale, of sports management events firm Interloq, in 2002 after a three-year absence.
He said, "When the half marathon first started it had something like 3000 runners because there was nothing else going on.
"It went off the calendar for a few years and the first year I did it we had 501 entrants.
"This would have been the 11th year and it is sad.
"It's something I've felt personally responsible for but the pressure on the finances has made it very tricky."
This year's event was due to go ahead on Sunday 3rd June but, instead, Run Dunfermline will host a 'Festival of Sport and Entertainment' that day which will still have the popular family fun run and 5k event within the Glen.
Mr Martindale said, "The 5k will have the postcode challenge and Young Apprentice again for schools, clubs etc, and there will be relay races, demos and taster sessions from different sports clubs.
"There's a tug-o-war, obstacle courses, straw bale rolling and a demo from the people behind the Kelty coal-carrying race.
"We're working with the Dunfermline Children's Gala as their theme this year is the Olympics and it'll also tie in with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations so everyone will get a medal."
He continued, "By holding the festival wholly within the park the cost base is so low and there's no policing.
"You don't need full-blown ambulance support, that's a significant cost you can't cut corners on with the half marathon while traffic management would have again been one of the biggest burdens.
"Road closures for the half marathon are very costly, you have to pay for the park, there are council costs, the health and safety aspect, toilets, areas for injured or ill people and runner service stations etc."
Mr Martindale said there was also a problem with the 13 miles-plus course due to ongoing building work in the centre of Dunfermline.
He explained, "We've used the cycle path out towards Oakley for the last two years which has given us a great, and very fast, course that runners liked.
"But because of the Tesco development, we can't use the wee road connecting Bruce Street car park and the Glen Bridge car park which brought the runners back towards the Glen."
And he concluded, "It's very hard to make events like the half marathon work unless you have good support.
"We still have that from Fife Council and we had 10 sponsors last year, which was brilliant, but we couldn't secure a title sponsor this year.
"The two-year deal with Signplus was up but that was always the agreement and they've been brilliant to work with.
"It's the economic climate that's driving it.
"I don't blame companies for cutting back on sponsorship, how can you when jobs are being lost, but this is happening across the UK."
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Mar 17, 09:26
It is disappointing that this year's race wont go ahead but I think the reasons given for the decline over the last few years are wrong. It is true that races with an adventure/challenge element are popular, but there is still plenty of interest in road half marathons. Alloa and Loch Leven are two local examples of thriving events. What they have offered is good value, good organisation and an interesting course. Recently, DHM has not offered these. And both Alloa and Loch Leven are run on a non-profit basis, which may be the difference between the entry fees and the value for money the races are able to offer.
Recommend? Yes 5 No 0
Mar 15, 11:20
it is a shame that this race will not be taking place & what chance hs any
other person organising the race with so little time left i believe the present organisers
left this late so no one else can take over
i believe if i was given the opetunity i could make the race more succesfull
also the runers did not like the course going down tracks made for other
sports marathon & so on are road races thats what the runners like
you also state that you are an entartainments business maybe thats were the problem
is i can be contacted via the Dunfermline press if you would like me to take over
and any businesses that would like to get involved
also see coments on pars
Recommend? Yes 0 No 0