Dear organisers of Cheltenham’s Half Marathon,
Hundreds of us acted in good faith, followed your race briefing, but were unable to run this morning because the traffic confounded our attempts to reach the event at Cheltenham Racecourse, with its “ample free parking”.
My story is probably typical of those of many other frustrated, disappointed and fairly angry runners and their families.
I left myself plenty of time to reach you.
I followed the signs to the racecourse dutifully and was within 0.5 of a mile of the event by 8:00am, giving myself an hour to sort myself out before the start. Arriving an hour before a race is the norm for me. (I’m currently completing 12 halves in 12 months for charity. Luckily I completed the Great North Run last weekend, so this was an extra.). All roads to the racecourse from the town were shut. There were no signposts for runners explaining any diversion to reach the entrance. There were no marshalls out on the road to help to guide traffic. The only person I saw, enforcing a closed road, shrugged his shoulders and said he had no idea when I asked him how I should get to the racecourse.
After trying several routes for 20 minutes, all ending in closed roads, I eventually tried to head north of the racecourse and work my way round. I joined a queue of traffic that then took me more than an hour to get only a little closer.
At 9:20, (twenty minutes after the start gun had been sounded) I gave up – the queue ahead of me was still bumper to bumper.
I grew up in Gloucestershire and was looking forward to reacquainting myself with what is a beautiful town.
You appear to have made the error of closing all but one access route to the event site, so creating a traffic jam of truly disastrous proportions. Oh, and you compounded your mistake by organizing a schools mini-event for a thousand local primary school children an hour before the start of the half marathon, so increasing the traffic demands on the single road you had dedicated to get everyone to the racecourse.
I have now seen your messages on social media and the myriad of frustrated responses from people in the same position as myself.
What’s really disappointing is the lack of apology from you for a problem that was entirely yours to manage. That is, quite simply, appalling relationship management.