VETERAN athletics coach Lesley Barnett has raised a number of safety concerns with the British Heart Foundation about the route of Warwick’s first half-marathon.
Already some 2,400 runners have signed up for the run which starts out from the castle grounds on March 17 and is expected to raise thousands of pounds for research into heart disease.
But when Mr Barnett, who coaches runners like GB international Sue Harrison, first saw the 13.1 mile route published online, he immediately contacted the charity with his fears for the safety of the athletes taking part.
Since then he has been assured that many of the issues he has raised are being tackled.
But the 71-year-old still believes the last three miles of the road race will be potentially more dangerous than any other he has attended.
He warns all those taking part to take out their earphones and take particular care at three major road crossings. These are the Birmingham Road onto the Ugly Bridge at Budbroke, the Henley Road onto the Forbes estate and the Stratford Road before they re-enter the castle’s park.
Mr Barnett said: “At the end of the day all the appropriate authorities have been consulted and I wish all the runners a safe and successful run. But with up to 3,000 taking part I do have concerns.
“The organisers need to remember that it will take around 12 minutes for the last entrant to exit the castle gates, running down that narrow cobbled pathway. By that time the lead athletes will be on the outskirts of Leek Wootton and the following crocodile of runners more than two miles long.
“The last runner will not have cleared the Woodloes traffic island on the edge of Warwick until more than 20 minutes after the starting gun. From the time the first runner crosses Ugly Bridge to the last will be in excess of two hours.”
BHF event organiser Hannah Carling points out that each of the crossings will be fully managed by staff from a very experienced road traffic management company.
She added: “The route has been approved by the local Safety Advisory Group and is supported by the district council, police, first aid, fire service and Highways Agency. Traffic management marshalls will be in place at key junctions. An alternative route for hospital visitors will be available via the A4177 and through the Woodloes estate while the road is closed.”