More Water! No Problem!
It must be said, that as an event, the 2014 Sheffield Half Marathon was a complete embarrassment. An embarrassment not only to the organisers, but to the city, and to the five thousand runners hoping to take on the challenge.
However, on the other hand, the failure of Margaret Lilly and her team opened the door for something much more incredible and heart-warming. It allowed the nation and beyond to appreciate just how special Sheffield can be. It put the steel city on the map.
The investigation, being undertaken by the organisers, is fully underway. But I don’t hold out much hope for anything resembling a worthwhile explanation. There wasn’t much explanation on the day, so why should we expect anything else after?
Besides, I could sit here and rant to you all day long about my frustrations, and my anger towards that day. But what would be the point? Thousands of other much more influential people than myself are already doing that exact thing. I want to focus on what made Sunday 6th April so special. I want to focus on the day of the Rebel Runners. I want to focus on the day Sheffield came together.
There might not have been enough water. In truth, there was more water than ever before. Thousands of the good Sheffield people opened their front doors, took to the side of the road, and provided runners with what seemed like an infinite amount of H20. Around every corner, there would be a small child with her arms extended outwards clutching bottles of heaven. It was truly remarkable.
The shocking news that the water, due for delivery that morning had not turned up, prompted a city wide search for water. Cafés were setting up roadside stalls, to supply each and every runner with water. Endless plastic cups lined the curbs. Perhaps, a very significant image, representing care, and above all togetherness.
Sense of togetherness
The crowds seemed to be just that little bit louder. The atmosphere, that little more intense. The occasion, that little more grand. The achievement, much more great. You would think, for my first half marathon to be cancelled, an hour after it was due to start, I would be disappointed. Actually, it’s the opposite.
To be part of the occasion was truly special and unique. To be able to say that I was there, running, on the day of the Rebel Runners is a privilege. The day belongs to an entire city. And to the community who did everything they could to ensure over four thousand people still managed to run the 13.1 miles, and cross the finish line with a smile on their face.
For me, it is a day I will never forget. I can’t imagine any race coming to close to producing anything that the Sheffield Half Marathon had to offer that day. As many people are using social media to direct abuse at the organisers, I say thank you. Thank you for allowing the great city of Sheffield to have a chance to show the country its community spirit, and sense of togetherness.
I know Don Valley Stadium is gone. But it wasn’t the stadium that made Sheffield a great sporting city. The people make Sheffield a great sporting city. We proved that. And we will again, when you least expect it.
Until then, we have the Tour de France. Voici à Sheffield. Magnifique.