Runners in Sunday’s Southend Half Marathon have reacted with OUTRAGE after it emerged that Southend Council bosses have decided to leave all local roads OPEN to vehicles while the popular annual running event is in progress – the local authority feels that this is the perfect moment to demonstrate the benefits of shared space. According to a spokesperson for the event, the event will now be ‘an accident waiting to happen,’ and there are concerns about how the presence of cars, vans, motorbikes and buses will affect finishing times among the amateur and professional competitors.
Neville Apied will be running in Sunday’s race for the fifth time, and he admitted that the Council’s attitude has filled him with rage. He said: ‘This decision is an utter disgrace. Every other major road run around the world sees local roads being closed off, but yet again our leaders seem to have some sort of desire to be that little bit different. How are we supposed to complete the race safely when we have to dodge the kinds of cars that plague our town every summer weekend? I’ll have one eye on my stopwatch, and the other eye looking out for a seven-seater Toyota Previa with 13 kids inside that has come down from Romford or some other dump because Southend has a bit of sand.’
A spokesperson for Southend Council said: ‘We are incredibly proud of how we are leading the planet in the concept of Shared Space, and there is no better way to demonstrate this than to show the world how half marathon runners, pedestrians, cyclists, car motorists, dog walkers, parents with pushchairs and lorry drivers can all share the same area of road in perfect harmony. We are aware that a small number of runners will be uneasy about this, and so we are delighted to also be opening the world-class outdoor track at Garons Park on Sunday for people who want to do 52.74 laps of the circuit instead of the road route. As an added bonus, runners can even do another 52.74 laps after that so they can say that they have done the full marathon distance.’
He added: ‘We were going to let people run along the pier instead, but it would have probably turned into a triathlon.’