New Forest Marathon still going ahead in September

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Numbers will be restricted to 5,000 this year. Photo: Steve West

THE organisers of the New Forest Marathon, which is being held in September, have confirmed they expect it to go ahead despite the current lockdown restrictions.

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The event, which attracts 5,000 runners, is due to take place on 13th September. Participants can also take part in a half-marathon, 10k, 5k, junior 1k or junior 200m races, which all begin at New Park showground in Brockenhurst.

In a statement, organisers said: “The coronavirus pandemic has paved a fairly unpredictable pathway. We know how important the New Forest Marathon event is to the community and therefore we are doing everything possible to be able to navigate that path and bring you a safe enjoyable event in September. 

“We fully anticipate the event going ahead. We have created a number of contingency options to ensure we both meet government guidelines and keep attendees, staff and volunteers safe. At this point we are however in the hands of the government and await further guidance on events.”

The statement explained that organisers had researched models from across the world to learn best practice and were “more than prepared” to be innovative if required.

A second stand-by date has been earmarked, organisers confirmed, but said due to the possible bad weather and impact on the Forest, it would only change if essential.

Organisers say that as the location of the race village is purpose-built for events, it offers a large expanse of space to accommodate various options for parking and movement of people subject to social distancing guidelines. 

It adds: “The event is restricted to 5,000 runners – small in comparison to other running events such as London or Brighton. Running 5,000 runners through the Forest is very different than running 30,000 through a city.

“This allows us the opportunity to spread out participants and carry out the races without mass starts or large crowds.”

While some welcomed the news, others travelling from further afield questioned if local campsites and hotels would be open to enable them to stay locally.

One who was against the event going ahead called it “madness” and wrote on the New Forest Marathon’s Facebook page: “If this goes ahead, I wonder who is going to insure this event? How is it going to have adequate medical cover? You really need to reconsider this.”

Over the last 35 years the marathon has raised more than £1.31m for local good causes. The statement added: “It is absolutely imperative to us to see this pot continue to grow to support all the superb organisations that exist within the New Forest and surrounding areas. 

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