Participants over 16 and using their chairs are allowed to enter the half marathon, but younger racers who want to take part in the mini-marathon have been told the provisions aren’t in place.
Teenagers from across the country were hoping to take part, including the under-15s Sheffield Steelers wheelchair basketball team, but they have now been refused entry.
Sweatshop Events – which runs the Robin Hood Marathon – defended its decision on safety grounds, saying whilst a separate start was possible for the half marathon participants, the same flexibility was not possible on the shorter course.
Judith Manson, senior operations manager for the firm, said: “A separate wave was suggested for the Sheffield Steelers half marathon team to follow the Elite groups. Unfortunately however the Mini Marathon event does not allow the same flexibility for a separate wheelchair start, therefore when considering the suitability and accessibility of the Mini Marathon course – it is accessible but is not suitable.
“With 2,000 participants expected in this event, some as young as four years old, safety of all participants has shaped the entirety of our decision making. As the wheelchair team is likely to be faster than some of the mini marathon runners they will need to overtake children in a condensed, crowded course resulting in a high risk of accidents happening, an unacceptable risk.”
But the decision has been criticised by local disability groups.
Simon Bernacki, development officer at Disability Nottinghamshire, said: “We’re saddened to hear that there is no provision at the forthcoming Robin Hood marathon for young people who are essential wheelchair users.
“We very much hope that the organisers can rethink their approach to equality and inclusiveness, by accommodating for as many people as possible, from all sections of society.”
The Post asked Nottingham City Council to comment on the situation but it declined.
The Robin Hood Marathon expects over 10,000 runners to pound the city’s pavements for the half marathon and 2,000 for the full marathon when it takes place on Sunday, September 28.
In January, Sweatshop Events announced the official charity for the run would be Scope – an organisation founded on ensuring disabled people and their families get the same opportunity as everyone else.
A spokesperson for Scope said: “Scope work with all of its event organisers to ensure that disabled people are catered for wherever possible.
“The Ikano Robin Hood Marathon and Half Marathon, of which Scope is the official race partner, are fully accessible to disabled competitors.
“We have spoken to the event organisers and they have explained the safety concerns which led to their decision not to include wheelchair users in this year’s Mini Marathon.
“We understand that after this year’s event, the situation will be reviewed. We encourage all of our event partners to make their events inclusive for disabled competitors of all ages.”