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News Archive > Sport > Mass start causes row

Mass start causes row

By Tom Howe 30th December 2020

Mass start causes row
The start of last weeks Indian Queens half marathon has drawn criticism for a lack of measures to fight covid-19

A Cornish race director has blasted the decision to allow a mass start of around 250 runners at the recent Indian Queens half marathon as ‘nonsensical’.

By allowing this to happen, race organisers went against current guidelines put in place by UK Athletics and Run Britain to combat the spread of covid-19. Rules state, to receive a permit, mass starts need to be replaced by staggered starts.

Having been contacted by a friend who ran in the event and later expressed his concerns, Davey Green, a local race director and a runner himself, posted a video of the start on social media which has since been viewed and shared numerous times.

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.”

“It was exactly how not to do it,” said Green to the Voice. “There are lots of covid-safe races going on in smaller numbers. If there is a covid outbreak from this we will never know because there was no track and trace code on the walls or paperwork for anyone to sign. It would be impossible to track and trace.

“With the chip timing they had, they should have gone in single file or three abreast. It would have been a matter of minutes to get everyone through. Athletes do as they are told. We have found out since that there is a big to-do about getting the race on for its 38th consecutive year.

“The response from the race director after the event was that she saw absolutely nothing wrong with that video whatsoever. It was nonsensical to try and get a race on with hundreds of people. It is all very well doing a risk assessment but you have actually got to then go and do those things.

“They got the permit because they filled in a very good risk assessment but, on the day, none of it actually happened. I did the 101 to the police and logged it as an unlawful mass gathering. They are going to have to show an interest. If there are no consequences then this will happen again.”

When asked for a response, race director Alison Beare replied: “It is not right to comment further until UK Athletics have had the chance to look into it.

“I have provided them with copies of documents I used to support my decision, including their own principles for staging road races during the covid outbreak, guidance from Sport England and the Government’s own guidance for organised outdoor sporting events and covid guidance. 

“[Plus] the covid risk assessment I carried out beforehand which was submitted to Cornwall Council as part of the application to stage the event and to UK Athletics to obtain the licence.

“There was also specific guidance issued to participants on the Facebook page prior to the race. I’m sure you can appreciate it was not a decision taken on a whim and if I have broken a rule then it was certainly not a deliberate act.”

By Tom Howe 30th December 2020

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