Big Half Marathon Update – controversy grows

The controversy over the Big Half Marathon event grows as both local councillors and Tower Hamlets residents struggle to discover any coherent public information. Or even any information. 

“Big Half Marathon? Ooh, that’s nothing to do with us guvnor!”

No organisation is taking responsibility for the lack of consultation with residents before the route was decided.

Here is a round up of the latest situation as we know it.

Big Half updates at a glance

  • Research by Conservative Councillor for Canary Wharf Andrew Woods shows that there is still a lack of publicly available information for the Big Half Marathon that hits Tower Hamlets and especially Wapping on Sunday 4th March.
  • Only Canary Wharf Group have published information about the event on their events schedule.
  • Cllr. Denise Jones has managed to organise free car parking at John Orwell for residents over the weekend of the event.
  • Tower Hamlets Council has no intention of changing the route of the Big Half Marathon.
Route of Big Half Marathon through and around Wapping Sunday 4th March

Email from Cllr. Andrew Wood

To: Will Tuckley, Ann Sutcliffe, John Biggs, Robin Payne (Tower Hamlets Council), Derek Theobald, Gareth Powell (TfL), London Marathon Events, Vitality UK and others

Subject: Big Half marathon – Transport for London and Tower Hamlets Council failure to communicate

Dear all,

I would like to find out if the Big Half Marathon on Sunday 4th March has been cancelled because as of tonight 10 days before the event starts it does not appear anywhere on any public source of information (at least as regards Tower Hamlets & TfL)

Given that 15,000 runners will be running through east and south east London between 9am and 3pm (with vehicle removal starting at 1am, road closures at 5am) it does seem odd that there is no communication for what is a brand new event other then a leaflet delivery, cards on cars and some vehicle removal signs by the organisers (can vehicles be legally removed if LBTH provide no advance warning about the suspension of on street parking?)

I have looked at:

Transport for London website

  • Apparently all buses are running as normal despite competing for road space with 15,000 runners – see picture for D3 & 100 buses status updates on the day
  • Nothing on the TfL list of events – see picture
  • Nothing on TfL London Works site – see picture
  • Have not checked TfL Twitter

Tower Hamlets Council

  • No road closures listed on LBTH website road closure page (see picture), none mentioned in last Fridays email to Councillors, also not on FiFiLi app under the road closure list
  • Not mentioned in news & events (see picture). 15,000 runners on a Sunday morning I thought was news.
  • Not listed on events that residents can attend (but International Womens week starting 5th March is listed) (see picture)
  • Nothing on LBTH Facebook or Twitter

Canary Wharf Group

But well done to Canary Wharf Group who have listed it on their events schedule.

Is it meant to be a surprise?

Can I ask is there a plan to communicate this or is it meant to be a surprise when the barriers go up?

The southern half of Tower Hamlets enjoys the following events already:

  • London Marathon 22nd April
  • Prudential Bike Ride in late July
  • Triathlon in early August
  • Bike races in Canary Wharf

And communication is always poor although the main Marathon is such an annual fixture it needs less communication then a brand new event such as the Big Half.

Common courtesy

Many residents would appreciate being consulted on issues like the route and if you won’t consult us at least have the courtesy of informing us in advance of the disruption through as many channels as possible.

Further answers from Council

After our initial story LW asked for some clarification from Tower Hamlets Council and this is what we got.

Q: When was a decision made for the Big Half event route to come through Wapping?

A: The event has been in planning since early 2016. The route was finalised in May 2017.

Q: Whose responsibility was it to inform residents of this?

A: Tfl as the traffic authority sent a letter giving information about the race and the route to 170,000 Londoners across the route in October 2017 .

Q: Does Tower Hamlets Council have any intention of asking the organiser of the Big Half Marathon to change the route so it does not go through Wapping?

A: The route is now agreed.


Cllr. Denise Jones (Labour, St. Katharine’s Dock & Wapping) has arranged free car parking for residents who usually park on the Marathon route at both the car parks by the John Orwell Centre from the day before to the day after the event. Details should be on the council website but we can’t find them.

Media Invite

LW has received a media invitation to attend the start of the Big Half Marathon at 8.30am for a photo opportunity with Mayor John Biggs, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Amy Whitelock Gibbs and Chief Executive Will Tuckley and runners.

LW will not be attending.

It would be great to see Mayor Biggs, Cllr. Whitelock Gibbs and in particular Will Tuckley visiting Wapping High Street during the event – they could then tell personally explain to residents why their cars have been towed away.

One thought on “Big Half Marathon Update – controversy grows

  1. Ignoring the passive aggressive start to Councillor Wood’s email he’s clearly not a runner. He’s suggesting runners will be on the streets from 9 – 3. Even the very last runner will be away by 10 (probably way before) and if they finished at 3 that’s a 5 hours race. That would be running 22 minute miles. You can walk a mile in 15 minutes. It’ll be done by midday.

    I realise that sounds petty but political hyperbole is very annoying.

    As I’ve said previously the coverage of this seems a lot of fuss for having to move your car for a couple of hours. Yes it hasn’t been communicated very well (although I’ve received a leaflet and there is something on almost every car on the High Street) but the tone of this veers close to NIMBYism.

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