Big Half Marathon event to invade Wapping Sunday 4th March

Wapping is to be completely disrupted on Sunday 4th March as the ‘Big Half’ marathon event will come through the streets of Wapping as well as along The Highway.

It is the lock-in from hell. 

The jolly running person cartoons is all part of the marketing nonsense of the Big Half.

Residents who normally park their cars anywhere along Vaughan Way, Wapping High Street, Wapping Wall and Garnet Street will have their vehicles towed away if they do not move them before the Big Half event.

But then even if you could get to your car you would not be able to drive it anywhere.

Yellow line denotes closed roads around Wapping where all vehicles will have to be removed by owners before Big Half event or have them towed away.

To rub salt into the wound the Big Half event has been ‘created’ by London Marathon Events Ltd – of which Tower Hamlets Council Chief Executive Will Tuckley is a director.

Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council (Image: YouTube)

Seriously. Look for yourself. 

William John TUCKLEY, Director of LONDON MARATHON EVENTS LIMITED (01528489)


LW is not for one moment anything underhand has gone on here, but it just does not feel right.

We have asked the Council for comment on this. If you would like to find out more about Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets you can see him on YouTube.

It seems that the news that Wapping’s streets have been hired out to a commercial company for a corporate marketing event has come as much a surprise to the Council as much as residents.

Which is kind of odd really don’t you think Will? I mean, you could have just jumped on the DLR then go around the shops and pubs in Wapping and told us what your company was planning.

This is not a Transport for London issue – it is the Council who controls what happens on the streets, TfL’s remit only covers Red Routes as they are a resource for the entire capital.

What the hell is the Big Half?

The Vitality Big Half is part of a new event which will be held for the first time on Sunday 4th March 2018 – right outside your front door.

According to the marketing blurb on the Big Half site “Our vision is to create a sports event for all Londoners and inspire entries from participants from all backgrounds so that the event mirrors the diverse demographics of London’s multi-cultural population.”

Oh really? Hand us the sick bucket please.

But there is more. (Note: Empty sick bucket before reading on or watching this film.)

“We are working, together with our partners Sported, with the many community groups in the four London boroughs [Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich and Tower Hamlets] on the course to create a genuine engagement in the event with local communities.”

Genuine engagement in the event with local communities. At best this statement is disingenuous, at worst it is an outright lie.

Reality is that the Big Half people have seen fit to take over Wapping for a day to make more money for their shareholders.

There are many questions to be answered and LW and our local councillors are already on the case with this.

A key question is how the hell has this been allowed to happen without the consultation of Wapping residents?

And which organisation paid another organisation to be allowed to buy Wapping for a day?

LW is assuming that cash has changed hands. And we are also assuming that neither Wapping residents or the borough will see any of that money.

Sir Mo Farah is billed as the star runner of the Big Half to ensure the crowds turn up for maximum brand exposure.

We have asked the race organisers exactly how much Sir Mo and other invited runners will be paid, but a 2013 report in The Guardian estimated that London Marathon promoters were paying him £450,000 for a two race deal.

Big Half of what?

The Big Half event is all part of the branding and marketing activity of Vitality UK which sells life insurance.

Or to quote the Vitality blurb, and here comes the bucket again “Our unique approach to insurance is based on scientifically proven principles of behavioural economics. We help you take a more active role in managing wellness,”

Wellness? Marketing speak for not being ill.

So London Marathon Events Ltd create the Big Half event for Vitality UK and consumers get that warm and fuzzy pink feeling about life insurance. Bless.

Of course Vitality UK, whose UK HQ is just over the river at More London, is part of a bigger corporate machine known as South African based Discovery Holdings.


So what or who is Discovery Holdings? “Discovery is a shared value insurance company whose purpose and ambition are achieved through a pioneering business model that incentivises people to be healthier, and enhances and protects their lives.”

Translated into English we think that means an insurance company that likes people who don’t die too early. Which is pretty much the same as any other insurance company.

It’s just like cheeseburgers

The relationship between Vitality UK and Discovery Holdings could be likened to that of a McDonalds franchise holder and McDonalds Corporation itself. Devoid of their own ideas the franchisee rents the right to use a proven business model to make money. (No pickle on my life insurance thanks!)

LW has no problem with companies making a profit.

We have a huge problem when our community gets screwed in the process.

Which is why we are suggesting that the only way to stop this exploitation by Big Half / Vitality UK / Discover Holdings of Wapping and or neighbours is direct action and, if necessary, civil disobedience.

Direct bridge action

Wapping’s proud docklands heritage is defined by the fact that it is in reality an island created by the docks of London.

Historically four bridges connected Wapping to the rest of London and disconnected us when they were raised.

Just one of our lovely Wapping bridges

The bridges were located at Wapping Wall / Glamis Road, Garnet Street, Wapping Lane and Vaughan Way.

The bridges at Wapping Lane and Vaughan Way have been replaced by just plain ordinary roads over Wapping canal but the other two bridges remain.

Vaughan Way – not much of a bridge but still a great chokepoint

Together the four bridges provide perfect choke points.

If the bridges should, for some strange reason, be blocked by a human chain of Tower Hamlets residents then nothing can get through.

Especially a half-marathon race.

LW has always been, and always will remain, a firm believer in the importance of the rule of law. But sometimes you just have to take a stand.

A stand against the exploitation of Wapping by the corporate greed of some life insurance company who does not give a damn about Tower Hamlets residents is a good place to be.

More updates on this before Sunday 4th March.

Yet another benefit of living in Wapping E1W – we don’t even need to build barricades!

Wapping rocks.

The Council and the other organisations mentioned above have been approached for comment (see below) but we have not had responses at the time of publication because you need to know about all this now.

LW email to Vitality press office



I am trying to find out about the Big Half event.

I run a community news site in Wapping and only found out yesterday, purely by chance, that your event will be coming through Wapping on Sunday 4th March. I have already taken this issue up with Tower Hamlets Council and would now like to get some facts from you.

  1. To what extent was the Tower Hamlets Council aware that the Big Half event was coming through Wapping?
  2. Who in Tower Hamlets Council did you ask for permission for this to happen?
  3. Did Vitality UK, the Big Half event or any associated organisations agree to pay any fees to Tower Hamlets Council for this event?
  4. If any fees were agreed what are the amounts?
  5. Was the Council consulted on this and was approval given?
  6. What level of consultation did Vitality UK, the Big Half event or any associated organisations provide with Wapping residents?
  7. On the Big Half event website (see there is this statement: “The Vitality Big Half has been created by London Marathon Events Ltd” Can you provide me with details as to what “created by London Marathon Events Ltd” means? Presumably fees were paid by you to London Marathon Events.
  8. Will Tuckley is the Chief Executive Officer of Tower Hamlets Council and is also a director of London Marathon Events Ltd. Can you tell me what involvement Will Tuckley had with the arrangements for the Big Half even to come through Wapping?
  9. I understand that Mo Farah will be taking part in the Big Half event and assume he will be paid a fee for this. Can you confirm he is being paid a fee and how much this is?
  10. Can you also provide me with a list of any other runners who are being paid to attend this event by Vitality UK, the Big Half event or any associated organisations?

For your information Wapping residents feel very strongly about the disruption caused by sporting events passing by Wapping which mean that their community is effectively ‘locked in’ from the rest of London. The Big Half event is bringing this issue into sharp focus in particular because it seems that if residents do not move their cars from the event route they will be towed away in addition to the area being completed disrupted.


Mark Baynes

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