Falkirk Tough Runner event branded ‘shambles’ by runners and residents

An event that saw nearly 3000 runners in a race around Callendar Park has been blasted as “a shambles” by those taking part.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 12:29 am

While the park’s residents who faced parking chaos because of it are also unhappy.

Epic Trail, organised by events company Tough Runner, was dubbed ‘epic fail’, with one experienced runner saying he had never seen anything like it.

People – dressed to run in shorts and t-shirts – were left shivering in minus temperatures as organisers failed to start the race on time.

One runner, Paul McDonald, who lives in Stirling, said: “I have done hundreds of events all over the country and I’ve never experienced anything like it!”

“As soon as I arrived I saw there was a queue a mile long. Normally at an event like that you have 12 people registering  – they had two!

“I have never been to a race that was delayed before – this was 45 minutes late in starting and it was -1C. You had kids freezing in shorts and t-shirts.”

Mr McDonald says he and many others had to wait 90 minutes to register despite having paid an extra £3.50 to get numbers sent to them  in advance.

Other complaints included running out of pins, which meant runners had to hold their numbers; being given a 2019 lanyard with their finishers’ medals; and having to wait until Monday to get results.

Runners had paid between £20 and £40 to take part in the event.

“It was a joke. They have tried to do it on the cheap with as few staff as they could,” said Mr McDonald.

He also says no thought had been given to how narrow Callendar Park’s trails are – and there were bottlenecks in places that could have been dangerous.

“Anyone who did more than 50 minutes would have found themselves in a bottleneck at the finishing point  – you could see it was starting to back up.

He is also concerned that the company seems to have taken down the events Facebook page.

He said: “I’d understand if they admitted they’d got it wrong and they would learn from mistakes, but they are just deleting negative comments.

“It’s not that people are being abusive, they are just pointing out all the things that went wrong!”

It wasn’t just the runners who were angry with the lack of organisation.

The elderly residents of Callendar Park faced parking chaos as those taking part left cars on pavements, double parked and stopping people getting in and out of the area.

The small bus that runs from the flats was forced to cancel one journey as it took 40 minutes to negotiate the turning circle because of parked vehicles, residents said.

Ian Millar, chairman of the park’s tenants and residents’ association, put the blame firmly at the door of Falkirk Community Trust, which is responsible for the park.

He said: “It was absolute chaos! People had apparently been notified they were not to park near the high flats but they were just not abiding by the law.

“I don’t think there were any stewards at all. The road was littered with cars and it took about 40 minutes for the bus to get round the turning point.”

Although this event was particularly bad, he said other events also cause headaches for residents and he put the blame firmly at the door of Falkirk Community Trust.

“I think the Trust have got to do something about it and make sure there is stewarding,” he said.

“It’s a beautiful park and we want people to use it but they have to think about the residents and they need to have stewards!”

Councillor Pat Reid said he had been inundated with complaints from residents and he would be raising the matter with the Trust’s chief executive.

Tough Runner and Falkirk Community Trust were approached for a comment but have not responded.