Run fat boy run! Abuse hurled at marathon stragglers... by officials
SLOGGING their way round the London Marathon, they would never describe themselves as elite athletes.
But that doesn’t excuse the abuse many slower runners got from marshals and contractors as they finished Sunday’s race.
Crossing the line after more than six hours, they were jeered and heckled by staff who had begun the mammoth clean-up operation around them.
Jack Glenny, 24, ran the marathon with his twin brother, Joe, for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and raised £6,000. But what should have been a proud moment was ruined when cruel workers shouted ‘Run, fat boy, run’ at him.
The billings account manager said: ‘We felt extremely let down by the [London Marathon] organisation, we were forced to move out of the way for a marshal van, workers were taking down barriers and posters the whole time. We were berated and told “run, fat boy, run”. Then when we crossed the line after having to move for some workers taking down the scaffolding, I overheard an official saying “these lot should have left at 6am, the f****** amount of time it’s taken them to run this”.
At the end of the race, Mr Glenny was not allowed to run in the middle of the Mall but was forced onto the pavement. ‘It was very disheartening and you feel like you’re a nuisance,’ he said.
‘I know I’m a bit of a larger man but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve my moment.’
Elizabeth Ayres had volunteered to run as a pace-setter to help the slower athletes and was asked to complete the 26.2-mile course in seven and a half hours – the equivalent of 17 minutes and nine seconds a mile. But she was appalled by the abuse suffered by the stragglers.
She said competitors were reduced to tears by cruel officials.
‘Some were saying “If you weren’t so fat you could run faster”,’ she said. ‘Others were saying, “It’s a race, not a walk”. These were people wearing the London Marathon blue jackets, they were officials.
‘I had runners that were crying – ones saying they were going to go home and quit. I would rather the race was cancelled than people being spoken to like that.’
Miss Ayres also said that water stations had been cleared away before her group even reached the third mile of the course.
Runners were also sprayed with cleaning fluid and water from clean-up vehicles between miles 13 and 18 of the race, she claimed.
She added: ‘I volunteered to be at the back of the pack because it really is a lonely and unforgiving place to be at the back.
‘My heart breaks for every runner over seven hours who had absolutely none of the worldrenowned experience.’
James Miller, 35, was running for a dementia charity. He said: ‘It was really demotivating to see the course being dismantled around us. I even had to ask for directions at a couple of points as the route wasn’t obvious. It was like you were forgotten about.’
London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher said: ‘We work hard to provide the best possible experience for every runner in the London Marathon and we were very sorry to hear about the experience of Elizabeth and a small number of other runners.
‘A senior member of our team called Elizabeth yesterday to find out more and we are now looking into this in detail as part of a full investigation.’
This year’s marathon was completed by a record 42,549 runners.
‘It’s a race, not a walk’
Appalled: Volunteer pace-setter Elizabeth Ayres
Clean-up: Staff packing away as runners finished Medal moment: Jack Glenny helped raise £6,000