Mansfield’s premier sporting event looks set to be resurrected and could help bring thousands of people flooding back into the town.
The Mansfield Half Marathon had been run for more than 30 years before being cancelled last year in a furore of financial problems and red tape.
But business networking group, Mansfield 2020, is now in talks with previous race organiser Steve Shatwell about relaunching the event, which had become a major diary event for the town.
Mansfield 2020’s Caroline Cox says that the return of the popular race could by a catalyst for thousands of pounds being pumped back into the local economy and boost tourist trade.
She said: “It’s a massive thing for the town, and we want to put Mansfield back on the map.
“So many other towns have cancelled their half marathons because of the costs but it’s not acceptable that we do.
“We need to have activities like this happening in our town.
“It will take a lot of effort financially, but we are working on a business plan.”
The race had been successfully run by the voluntary Road Race Committee until last year when the costs of health and safety regulations brought it to a shuddering halt.
The cost of closing the roads had risen to £13,000 and organisers said it had simply become unsustainable.
They said to cover the soaring costs, those wanting to take part in the 13-mile race would have faced a huge hike in entry fees.
Former committee chairman Steve Shatwell admitted it was a ‘heartbreaking’ decision to cancel race, but was overjoyed about being involved again.
“I was pleasantly surprised, no-one had shown a great deal of interest or concern before now,” he explained. “The committee had left the door open because there are people who had worked on this as volunteers for the last 30 years so it was quite a sad time when we had to cancel it. But I’m very happy to be involved again.”
Steve estimates that staging the event for next year could cost up to £20,000, which would include hiring portable toilets and other essential outlays.
But with the backing of Mansfield 2020, who are hoping to attract financial sponsors, he hopes it could finally become financially sustainable.
He added: “Most road races have been affected by the costs. The police are no longer allowed to get involved with road closures, so groups are forced to employ traffic management companies, at quite high expense, which is fine if you’re in London or the Great North Run, but for a provincial race like ours, it’s hard to pay.
“We are probably looking at the best part of £20,000, and that’s with volunteers running the whole thing. You can only tun it for so long on good will, it has to be financially sustainable.”
The event was organised by the council until 1997, when numbers taking part had dwindled to around 150, but when the voluntary group took over it managed to attract almost 1,000 at its height in the mid-2000s.
But Steve said that at the very leas the race was attracting between 700 and 800 entrees before last year’s cancellation. With a fun run traditionally organised alongside for those unable to participate in the main race, up to 3,000 people could be involved in total, a level of interest that Steve is hoping to resurrect.
“It was definitely the largest sporting event in Mansfield, and I’m confident we can get the numbers back up to where they were a few years ago because interest was never the issue,” he added.
A meeting is now planned for 19th September in which a specific route for the event, which will take place at the end of June or the start of July next year, is to be decided.
It is unlikely that Berry Hill Park, the traditional venue for the start and climax to the race, will be considered given the well-documented issues between the trustees of the privately-owned park and the local athletics club.
Meanwhile, any business wishing to sponsor the event is being asked to contact Caroline Cox at Mansfield 2020 on 01623 422010. Volunteers wanting to offer help should contact Steve on 07980 825072.