Wheelchair Participant Policy for Brighton Marathon

By 9th November 2016

The Grounded Events Company is a small organisation made up of a passionate team of people who work extremely hard towards ensuring that Brighton Marathon Weekend is as good as it can be for all those who participate, spectate and work on the event.

We were saddened to hear of Mr Williamson’s recent dissatisfaction and disappointment with our wheelchair participant policy for the Brighton Marathon event (October 2016).

We have always strived to incorporate anyone who wishes to take part in our events and to make the course and facilities accessible. In the past, participants with many types and varying degrees of disability have successfully taken part in the Brighton Marathon Weekend portfolio and where necessary with the required guides, accompaniments or assistance.

While we do not currently offer an elite wheelchair event or allow racing wheelchairs to take part in the Brighton Marathon, the policy states that a standard (non-racing) wheelchair user can register to participate in the race.

Following Mr Williamson’s initial enquiry regarding the terms that anyone participating in a standard wheelchair ‘must be pushed’ throughout the Brighton Marathon, we subsequently reassessed our policy wording to state that a wheelchair user does not need to be pushed but must be accompanied throughout the race by an entered running participant. We agree wholeheartedly with Mr Williamson, that a wheelchair user should be allowed to participate in the event, in control of their chair. 

We have also further amended the policy to allocate the accompanying runner with a complimentary place in the event. And if requested, we are happy to help the wheelchair participant find a runner who can accompany them at their pace, through reaching out to our network of professional pacers and the running community.

With a field of over 10,000 runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators, it is of the upmost importance that we ensure high standards of health & safety for all attending the event, through assessing all potential risks in all eventualities. The organisers have decided that the potential risk for injury, should an incident involving a wheelchair occur, is of great enough significance that an accompanying runner is required as a precautionary measure.

The high density of runners at certain narrow points of the course, as well as the terrain and gradient of roads available for the 26.2 miles, are some of the crucial factors that have been taken into consideration with regards to the wheelchair participant policy. 

‘Incidents’ could include but are not limited to the following situations that may result in damages, injury to themselves, another runner, spectator or member of staff:

  • Where a stopped or slow moving wheelchair participant could be unseen by runners ahead or behind during the race
  • Where a wheelchair participant is unable to see and avoid an upcoming hazard in a crowd of runners e.g. a stopped, injured participant on the course
  • Where the wheelchair participant loses control due to faulty equipment
  • Where the wheelchair participant loses control due to injury or fatigue (which is extremely common for participants in a marathon)
  • Where a wheelchair user is unable to quickly manoeuvre around a runner or spectator who moves in front of them unexpectedly
  • Where a wheelchair user is unable to independently mount the pavement / move off the road should roads be reopened or blue light vehicle access is required in an emergency

We would like to express our appreciation for the insight and the issues raised through Mr David Williamson’s feedback and comments regarding the current Brighton Marathon wheelchair participant policy. Such feedback is key to the development and improvement of our events. 

While we are unable to make further changes to the 2017 wheelchair participant policy due to signed-off infrastructure and event documentation, we will be reassessing the policy going forwards for future editions of the Brighton Marathon Weekend, taking the issues raised into consideration. 

We aim to learn from our experiences each year and try to reach out to all those who wish to participate in the event.

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