Felixstowe: New hope for town’s under-threat half marathon

FELIXSTOWE: If organisers and police could agree a new route for Felixstowe’s under-threat half marathon the event could still take place this autumn, it was today revealed.

Time is running out today because Felixstowe Road Runners say they need to know soon if the 13-mile event will go ahead in order to put in place final preparations and be able to confirm with entrants.

Inspector Steve Gallant, of Felixstowe police’s Safer Neighbourhood Team, has offered organisers an olive branch.

He is prepared to sit down with them and a map – and plot a new route for the race to ensure it can take place safely.

Mayor Doreen Savage is hoping a way can be found to keep the race, a popular part of the programme of events held at the resort each year.

“I would support any moves being made to allow it to continue,” she said.

Organisers have the ultimate say on whether the race goes ahead, but police must be satisfied it is safe if it is using public roads.

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Insp Gallant said: “I have one possible route which they may or may not agree with, or may like to alter, and we can look at how we might do that.”

Road runners’ chairman Richard Farnworth said: “We cannot be pig-headed about this. We want to race in Felixstowe and if we have to change the course then we will change the course,” he said.

Insp Gallant defended his decision to declare the current circuit a potential risk to runners, drivers and his officers, saying it was not a matter of money or manpower.

“I don’t want to be a killjoy but I need to think about the safety of the people taking part in an event where we have 500 people running on live roads and crossing junctions,” he said.

“Once these runners step into the road, they are the my responsibility and the responsibility of my staff.

“I have had to look at the potential risk of injuries to the runners and to the other road users.

“If I was asked, can you put your hand on your heart guarantee safety, the answer to that in the event’s current format is ‘No’. Every year the number of runners has increased and every year the volume of traffic gets heavier.

“The liability, should anything bad happen, would be with the organisers, but the police have a duty to make sure that everybody is safe. I believe the risk is too high at the moment for me to say I will deploy my staff and ensure eveybody who takes part is safe. I cannot do that while people are running on live roads.”

The usual answer to potentially dangerous situations at events using live roads is road closures, but closing those on the current course for the four-hour race would cause gridlock.

? What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

n Letters special – page 8

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