THE FUTURE of one of city’s biggest annual sporting events could be at risk after the organisers of the Coventry Half Marathon confirmed they will not be extending their agreement despite the record-breaking success of this year’s race.
Mass participation and sports event management company G02, based in Bath, have decided to pull the plug on their involvment with popular half marathon event, which attracts hundreds of thousands of participants every year.
The council have not confirmed if next year’s event will go ahead but they are in talks with local partners and stakeholders about how they can host the 2017 race, which is due to take place again in February.
“Coventry’s Half Marathon is a popular event which attracts thousands of runners and visitors to the city, raises lots of money for charities and helps raise Coventry’s profile on the national stage,” said councillor Abdul Khan, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member.
“Whilst this is disappointing news, particularly given the recent growth in the event, we will be seeking initially to discuss with a number of local partners and stakeholders, options to try and build on what has grown to be a successful event.
“We would like to thank and acknowledge GO2’s professionalism and support to work in partnership with the Council over the last three years.”
The Coventry Half Marathon has grown in popularity year-on-year with record numbers taking part back in February where over 4,000 runners took to the streets of Coventry for the 13.1-mile challenge.
As well as being a platform for health, fitness and fun, the event also helps raised thousands of pounds for numerous local charities.
The likes of Myton Hospice, The Air Ambulance Service and Penny Appeal have all benneffited over the years, and local baby hospice Zoe’s Place has been official charity partner since.
Michael McCann, fundraising manager for Zoe’s Place Coventry, said: “Participants benefit from the regular exercise they undertake whilst training at a time when there are huge pressures on the NHS and people are being encourage to live healthier lifestyles and obesity is the second most preventable cause of cancer after smoking.
“I have concerns that because of “cuts” we are set to lose our most prestigious, mass participation sporting event especially in light of the decision to continue to “bank-roll” the Godiva Festival which is free for all.
“Furthermore, this comes at a time when Birmingham has launched its intention to hold a full marathon, a bike ride with a capacity for 15000 participants on “closed” roads and intention to host the Commonwealth Games. Am I being cynical in thinking that our Combined Authority is reducing events in areas surrounding Birmingham to enhance the opportunities for our Brummie neighbours.”
When contacted by the Observer GO2 Events said the event was owned by the council and they were not offering any further statement.