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Next year will be better

THE New Swindon Half Marathon brought more than 2,000 runners to our town.

The traffic disruption was something we had not planned for, and for that we are truly sorry.

We had various issues on the day contributing to the traffic, some of which were out of our control, and this resulted in congestion and unclear diversions on the day.

Over the last six to eight months we have had newspaper and radio programmes outline the route and the closures, as well as paid social media advertising the route and the date to about 120,000 people.

This, along with 93 advance notice signs that have been on the closed roads for the last three weeks, were, we assumed, enough to ensure people knew of the closures and would plan their day around them.

The roads on the route were closed in the direction of the run only and ranged in times from two to five hours.

We had also discussed with the emergency services how they could use the route to get to incidents, and that it would not affect their ability to maintain the safety of runners.

We are very self-critical, and will be debriefing in full on the event with all the parties involved in the race control - police, council, highways, governing bodies etc - and we will be using this to work out a format that will work better for the town as a whole.

This was the first running of the town centre course, and it’s a learning curve for all involved, but please be assured that we’ll manage the closures and the notification of the closures more effectively next year, so as to dramatically reduce the congestion.

There’s a lot of noise surrounding the disruption and it’s easy to forget the race was run to help 15 Swindon charities. Between these charities and others that runners have raised money for off their own backs, the event raised tens of of thousands of pounds.

Swindon has a massive running community, and until now, has not had a high-profile event like they enjoy in Bath, Bristol and Reading. These large scale races raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for local community projects and charities, but started off just like the Swindon half did on Sunday, with mistakes that were learnt from year on year.

You only need to walk around our town to see how many shops are empty. The race brought in 6,000 people on what would otherwise be a very quiet trading day.

We have already identified many changes that we can make for the event next year that will go quite some way to reduce disruption to the town. , and will go through these with the various stakeholders in our event debriefs over the next week or so.

These include the use of bridges over main roads to ensure there’s a clear and available route in and out of the loop of the race itself for traffic for the duration.

These options were not available at the time of planning, but are now open for discussion.

Once again, we apologise to anyone caught in the disruption, and want to give them the confidence that we will learn from our issues, and address them for the following year.

GRAEME HARDIE and LEIGH BINT, Race directors

Race united our town

SWINDON at a standstill (on the roads, at least) fuelled a tirade of aggressive comments from drivers.

But what they failed to see was the unity of the town as both runners and spectators took to the streets to celebrate the efforts of a small group who succeeded where many failed.

Sunday was not just about those who ran, but the locals who supported.

People stepped out of their homes, despite the weather, joining together to show pride in their hometown and its achievement. The support and love shown shone like a beacon, sending a message to all who were visiting - this is our town, and we are proud of it.

Neighbours stood shoulder to shoulder. Children applauded and high-fived runners as they passed and strangers became friends, as they shared the enduring experience of running 13.1 miles.

Should this be hidden away on country roads and distant streets, as voiced by the few complainants of the race?

Or should this be a glowing example of future success if only given the opportunity and space to thrive?

In a world of increasing social isolation, can we all not spend one day a year joining together to celebrate our community?

The Swindon Half Marathon was a celebration of our town, history, and residents. By concealing it would we not be declaring our shame of the town but also its community?

Sunday was a local race for local runners. But why can it not be a day where the town invites visitors to meet the people of Swindon and its community?

A race celebrated for its warmth of welcome, spectators, and residents, who are proud of their town.

We are a big town, but we also have a big heart. So why are we so keen to highlight a minority of failures against a wealth of achievements?

Many among the drivers cheered, honking horns and applauding passing runners as they queued.

Let us be known as the town that grew a local race, as opposed to one that destroyed it.

As with all new beginnings, the Swindon Half Marathon deserves encouragement and time to grow. I only hope that Swindonians will give it that chance.

EMMA SMITH, Lansdown Road, Swindon

Trapped by runners

I WISH the half marathon success. However the Information For Residents page on their website was still under construction on the Wednesday before the race. This was not helpful.

When I was able to look at it on Thursday it had all the timings of the road closures, yes, but it was quite obvious from the map that if you lived inside the course you wouldn’t be able to get out after 10.30am until after the last runners had passed.

And if you lived outside you couldn’t get in. Hopefully this can be changed for next year, with some pressure release points.

Thank heavens nobody was trying the course in a deep sea diver’s suit.

MIKE WILLIAMS, Pleydell Road, Swindon

Consider night workers

DAVID Collins, while I respect your desire to sit peacefully in your garden on a Sunday afternoon, I was shocked at your use of the term term ‘Clowns’ for those who are who are out cutting their lawns.

I am not a religious person so I cannot confirm or deny what the Bible states.

Maybe you could take some time to think of us shift workers who work at weekends, days and nights. Maybe a Sunday afternoon is the only time they have.

Maybe they work away and will not want to come back to a jungle. I am one of those ‘clowns’ who have had no choice but to attend to my lawn on a Sunday afternoon.

May I suggest earplugs, which is what I use when I am trying to sleep during daylight hours following nights shifts caring for the less unfortunate.

There appears to be limited consideration for us night workers when we are trying to sleep in the day - not to include one of my neighbours who is immensely considerate.

CHERYL KELSER, Wharf Road, Wroughton

We must get out

ROLL up, roll up for the circus, including clowns and intellectuals, as well as what the upper class call plebs - people like you and I.

I refer to the farce regarding the leaving of the European Disunion.

On these pages I have learned everything about NATO from a retired Major, plus the loss at the battle of Hastings as well as the details of the difficulties of business trade across Europe regarding tariffs and the perils that we face if we leave.

I suspect most readers are more worried about the power of their vacuum cleaners now dictated by the Disunion, not to mention the recent farce of the change of our light bulbs without our consent.

And about the queues at the European airports to spite us Brits for making a democratic decision our ancestors fought and died for.

I believe in democracy Many times I have voted for a losing Party, but I have accepted the will of the majority.

Britain voted for a clear mandate to leave the Disunion. In a General Election it would have carried a massive majority, so let us get on with it - out means out.

So why all the delays? Why was article 50 promised by Chameleon Cameron not activated forthwith as promised? Theresa May is playing the same game.

If you are ahead in a race you do not slow down to let your opponents catch up unless you have an ulterior motive. Or am I, as one of the plebs, missing something?

BILL WILLIAMS, Merlin Way, Covingham, Swindon

EU is irrelevant

Britain has been paying a membership fee to the Brussels organisation for longer that 40 years. Brexiteers and those who voted in the referendum were viewing this payment to be excessive for any “benefits” we received from membership.

Mrs Thatcher wised up to this gravy train and got a rebate.

It is obvious that Mr Junker and Mr Barnier are going to be peeved at this loss of revenue when Britain leaves the EU.

Junker and Barnier hope to delay in all ways possible until the the UK Government offers some continued funding for their activities.

The sooner other member states wise up to the EU’s irrelevance to all things governmental and have it disbanded losing those riding on the gravy train then the better for Europe and the world.

NOEL GARDNER, Carlisle Avenue, Swindon