Bungled Sunderland marathon cost taxpayers £76,000

Marathon and half marathon runners on their way.'Marathon of the North 2013 event
Marathon and half marathon runners on their way.'Marathon of the North 2013 event
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COUNCIL chiefs sanctioned paying out £76,000 for this year’s bungled Marathon of the North event, the Echo can reveal.

Race bosses have admitted thousands of runners fell short of completing the correct Marathon and Half Marathon routes in Sunderland after a marshalling error missed out 264metres – 0.16miles.

Runners not affiliated to a club paid £36 to enter the marathon.

The only person to run the correct route, which started and finished at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, April 28, was half-marathon winner Mark Hood.

Tourism bosses today said that by hosting the running weekend, which also included the Sunderland City 10k and junior run races, hundreds of thousands of pounds were pumped into the economy as about 5,000 runners hit the streets.

The race-cost figure was uncovered in a Freedom of Information request.

Chris Alexander, chief operating officer of the Sunderland Live events team, which is part of the council, said: “The cost of organising, staging and hosting any new large-scale public event is carefully considered against the economic and cultural benefits it will help generate.

“This weekend of events attracted more than 10,000 people into our city, brought an estimated £332,500 into the local economy, and helped raise tens of thousands of pounds for local charities through people’s sponsorship of all those who took part in the runs and the Zip Wire.

“What cannot be estimated, or rather underestimated, is the enjoyment of everyone involved and the fantastic atmosphere which was created. We will learn from the experience of these new events and develop on their success, as we continue to add to the calendar of annual events within Sunderland which raises the international profile of our city as host to world class cultural and sporting occasions.”

Kevin Carr, North East Road Running secretary and chairman of Sunderland Harriers, said despite the error over the race route, the event is “good value for money”.

“Sunderland has not had anything like this before, and we are trying to establish a major event,” said Mr Carr. “People will have issues with the cost, but I am just pleased that there’s an event of this nature in Sunderland, and I hope it stays here.”

As well as admitting the blunder and accepting responsibility, race organisers DS Media and Events apologised and offered entrants a 25 per cent discount on future events.

Dave Roberts, who set up the firm with former Olympian Steve Cram, said it valued the support of the council and such events help improve health and fitness.