What happened to the Sheffield Half Marathon?
The Queen came to Sheffield today to see how the once famed City of Sport was faring. Like me, her majesty had seen the signs for road closures due to the Yorkshire Half Marathon and, like me, was puzzled over this. How can a half marathon cover Yorkshire?
On meeting the council leader, HRH politely observed that the Yorkshire Half was coming through Sheffield and she asked where it started and finished.
On being told that the arf actually started and finished in Sheffield, the Queen, like me, wondered why it wasn’t called the Sheffield Half Marathon. The ready reply was at hand, and HRH was told that, as Yorkshire did so well in the Olympics, it had been decided to celebrate Yorshireness and call the the Sheff arf the Yorkie arf.
In response the Queen replied, “it’s not because you made such an arse of last year’s event then, is it? You know, when the watter didn’t turn up and you had to cancel it. You must think I came with the trip. I’d be a right duck egg to swallow that one.”
David Forrest, writing for Guardian last year, provides the clue for the name change when he wrote:
“Yesterday was my seventh consecutive Sheffield half marathon, and I was pretty excited. Things were slightly different this time, of course: Don Valley stadium, where the race used to start and end, now lies in ruins, a symbol of the city’s austerity-induced decline. On reflection, that was rather a powerful omen for yesterday’s farce: Sheffield, a once proud city of sport, was badly let down by faceless, bureaucratic incompetence.”
I guess you could say, what does it matter as long as the event is good and people enjoy themselves. But I don’t agree. While government is hell bent on destroying public services, and with it outdoor sports provision, and everything is falling down around us, Sheffield has risen to the challenge. We have been chosen as the pilot city by the FA in a radical plan to restructure grass roots football. As well, we are working with the Lawn Tennis Association on protecting tennis in parks. And the English Cricket Board, and other governing bodies of sport, on similar initiatives; we have a lot to be proud of. So, it would have been fitting to use the Sheffield Half Marathon as a vehicle to celebrate what we are good at and put the City Of Sport back up there.
Most other cities have the marathon or half marathon named after them. And I want a bloody T-shirt with Sheffield on it.