The following is North Shields Polytechnic Athletic Club’s response to the Morpeth Herald article about the Christmas Pudding Fun Run.
‘We were very disappointed at the negative coverage given in the Morpeth Herald to the annual Woodlawn School Christmas Pudding Fun Run organised by our club, North Shields Polytechnic Athletic Club.
Eight hundred and forty five runners took part in the run on Boxing Day, many in fancy dress and over £5,000 was raised.
This run has always been a fun run, not a race, and Morpeth Harriers should have been aware of this.
There are no official results. Anyone taking part can time themselves if they wish to. The entry form clearly states, ‘There is no timing of any participant in this event, it’s a fun run.’
For most runners, it’s an enjoyable and relaxing run, judging by the amount of families taking part. Also it is not a measured course, so can’t be compared to any other run.
We were puzzled to hear that the event was ‘declared void.’ By whom? Not by the organisers, who were the only ones in a position to do this. Also, not one runner or spectator approached our organisers to raise any issue after the run. This would have been the correct thing to do.
Our secretary, John Brettell, re-directed all but the first 20 runners onto the intended route just prior to the finish.
John immediately admitted it was his failure to instruct three marshals clearly enough which caused the 20 leading runners to finish on a slightly wrong path.
We can only apologise for getting it wrong on this occasion.
The change of route was not determined by ‘frosty conditions. The run was able to revert to the traditional route as work at both the Spanish City and Lower Promenade had been completed.
Given that the organisation of the run takes place at one of the busiest times of year, and also that the volunteers are around from 9am on what is a public holiday, and often the weather is very cold, we would have thought that Morpeth Harriers would be sympathetic.
Instead as well as the negative sniping in the Morpeth Herald, we also heard that one of their leading athletes deliberately barged into one of the Poly runners at the finish and was also very abusive.
It’s disappointing to hear of such unsporting behaviour, particularly as this was a fun run, and it was Christmas.
We will be contacting Morpeth Harriers in due course.
For the record, we have not been contacted by them thus far about their concerns. However, we are determined that the ethos of the Christmas Pudding Fun Run as a charity event should continue.
We were rather taken aback on the day to see so many serious athletes racing in club vests, and would advise that in the future perhaps serious athletes should consider taking part in a timed race on a measured course, rather than the Pudding Run.’
In response to this statement, Morpeth Harriers press officer George Patterson said the following.
“I would firstly wish to fully apologise for my comments in the article in a recent Morpeth Herald regarding the Boxing Day Pudding Run, which were entirely my responsibility, and in haste, and in order to meet a deadline, I indeed over-reacted to comments made to me by various individuals, when I tried to obtain information regarding the performances by some of our runners in the event, as I was not in attendance.
“In hindsight, I should have held back any comment, and I do offer full apologies to my hard-working friends at North Shields Poly, who were on the day organisers, for any offence or any upset my comments may have caused, and in that, I do sincerely thank Noreen Rees for taking the time to talk to me personally about the matter, and for her acceptance of my verbal apology.
“I hope that the run itself will continue to function and that many individuals, including some of my own club colleagues, will continue to enjoy the occasion.”