Event downscaled in only ethical response possible to coronavirus pandemic
Henham Park Festival of Running was set up with the aim of making people, young and old, healthier through physical activity in an inclusive and safe environment. When a worldwide pandemic threatens the way we live, albeit temporarily, we all have an obligation to do what we can to protect society’s most vulnerable. It is for this reason, therefore, Henham Park Festival of Running will be a greatly reduced event in 2020.
As event organisers, we have been monitoring the UK government’s response to the outbreak closely and fully expected a country-wide ban on large events to come into force yesterday afternoon. However what actually came out of a five-hour long Cobra meeting between our leaders was an edict for elderly people to cancel their cruises and for the general population to keep washing their hands. The trouble is we’ve been washing our hands for weeks and new case numbers keep rising alarmingly quickly.
We only have to look to other countries to see the differences that strong leadership and early interventions make to the spread of this deadly disease. There are examples of countries which have gotten it right and saved lives, as well as countries which have waited too long where deaths could have been prevented. In our opinion, as organisers of an event where up to 3,000 people will come together from across the country, we feel that if the government displays weakness at this crucial time, it is left to organisations like ours to show strength irrespective of profits and take difficult decisions.
Therefore Henham Park Festival of Running 2020 will go ahead, but with a greatly reduced service and fewer participants to minimise the risk of runners contracting coronavirus. We understand that many people have bought tickets hoping to enjoy the full festival experience and atmosphere, but unfortunately we are not prepared to go ahead with an event which may encourage the spread of disease to wreak havoc in a region largely populated by older people.
We will work, over the next week, to plan exactly what this means for participants and suppliers, and details of the changes will be placed on our website and social media. All participants with tickets will receive an email with updated details of the event. Suppliers will be contacted individually.
We know this may come as a disappointment to many people, but we hope you understand this was an extremely difficult decision for us which will slash the amount of money we will be able to reinvest in the event for 2021 and give to our charity. No one is more distraught about this than us. However these are unprecedented times and how we emerge from this period, when the epidemic does eventually pass, will depend much on the decisiveness of organisations such as ours and the extent to which we all help each other.
Henham Park Festival of Running Organisers