When Supply Risk and Big Brother Policy Cancel a Half Marathon

I'm back from the UK, having  just missed being able to watch this Sunday's London Marathon (I might run it one day myself, but this year I'm focusing on a personal best for the flat and fast Chicago course). But one topic that came up in multiple conversations was actually the Sheffield Half Marathon, which was thwarted by “procurement problems” in the words of Supply Management, who covered the story here.

Even though people continued to run (and got water and drinks from friendly spectators on the course), the race was technically cancelled in the middle because “the original water order was not delivered” to meet the needs of an official race requirement to have an “appropriate amount of water” available for participants every three miles.

The article goes on to suggest that “the company which had the contract to supply the water to the Sheffield Half Marathon has not yet been named, but users of social media have placed pressure on the race organisers to reveal who the supplier was.”

Perhaps the solution to the problem, as many distance runners already do for themselves during long training runs, is simply to plan for the worst and have a BYOW (bring your own water) policy. Regardless, the experience should prove that just-in-time delivery programs are better suited to the shop floor than a 26.2 mile race.

As for 13.1 miles? Let me opine that the cancellation of the event shows a Big Brother approach to race management. Any serious distance runner should be able to cover that distance at moderate pace, provided the weather cooperates, with a few sips at the starting line or just a bit of liquid along the way (or none at all, for the more experienced). Of course before you start tossing virtual tomatoes at your screen, let me put the emphasis on the weather factor. Any weather above 50 degrees Fahrenheit would require water for most.

On that note, as the weather warms up, I hope to see members of the procurement community in Chicago’s best race, the Soldier Field 10 on Memorial Day weekend. If you’re a runner and you want to try for the distance, don’t miss out. It’s a great event, and one with no supply issues in the past! It’s worth flying to Chicago for and is without question the most organized mid-to-large-sized run in the city (including the Chicago Marathon, a logistical nightmare given its scale).

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