Felixstowe: Half marathon MUST keep running

Keep it running! That was The Evening Star’s clarion call today as we launch a determined campaign to save Felixstowe’s popular half marathon – and urge police to think again.

Cops have pulled the plug on the 25-year-old event, citing concerns over the number of runners taking part, despite organisers offering to reduce the volume of participants.

The race has been a fixture of the town’s calendar for a quarter of a century, attracting thousands of runners and visitors to the town – some from overseas.

But this year’s half marathon– scheduled for October 10 – has been shelved after police withdrew their support.

Officers say the number of runners combined with the route chosen by organisers is unsafe.

Today, The Star – backed by organisers and the town’s deputy mayor Mike Deacon – sends out a plea to police to re-think the decision, which has raised concerns in some quarters that other community events could also be at risk.

Deputy mayor Mr Deacon said: “I am absolutely delighted that The Evening Star has decided to launch a campaign to rescue the half marathon in Felixstowe.

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“It mustn’t be forgotten that it (the half marathon) brings a lot of people into Felixstowe so I am very disappointed, I really am.”

In the past officers have manned three key junctions and busy road crossings to ensure traffic stopped while the runners crossed, keeping competitors safe.

The news of the scrapping of the half marathon comes weeks after concerns over the future of the Trimley and Felixstowe carnivals, which were plunged into doubt when police handed over traffic management to a private company.

Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover urged police to think again – before another community asset was lost.

“This seems a ridiculous decision by police in Felixstowe,” he said.

“If the police withdraw their support for community events we will soon have no Felixstowe Carnival and no Trimley Carnival, along with no half marathon – the town will die if we lose these major occasions.”

Richard Farnworth, chairman of the Felixstowe Road Runners, said: “We have offered to start the race two hours earlier when there will be less traffic, and we have offered to cut numbers of runners, but whatever we have tried the police have flatly refused to alter their stance.”

Inspector Steve Gallant, of Suffolk Constabulary, said because of the number of participants expected to take part in the race, and the chosen route, police believed it would be too dangerous for both the runners and residents.

He said: “We don’t think it’s safe to have that many people running on roads while traffic is running as well.”

Inspector Gallant added he has offered to meet with the organisers over the issues.

n Should more have been done to save the half marathon? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or alternatively you can send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@evening star.co.uk

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