A runner is suing the race organisers of the Stewington Trail 10K for making him run through a wheat field, which triggered an apparent allergy.
Oliver Scowcroft of East Riding was on target, 6K into the race, when the left turn that should have been a field of dreams became a field of screams. “Immediately I saw the wheat I suffered a slight discomfort in my stomach,” Scowcroft told The Runion, “and a general despondency that I had let my guard down by letting gluten enter my system. I totally destroyed a nearby bush.”
He added, “This added 12 minutes to my time, and I hold the organisers wholly responsible. I entered in good faith that it would be my choice not to consume or inhale any wheat-based products.”
Scowcroft believes that he has an intolerance to gluten, or possible even something more serious. “Do you know what Coeliac disease is?” he demanded of our reporter. “It’s pronounced ko-ee-lie-yak. I’ve not been diagnosed with it yet, but I think I’ve got it. I trained hard to get my body capable of running over six miles in one go, and that’s not easy when you can’t eat pasta. Do you have any idea how much quinoa – pronounced kwey-noah – you have to eat to account for that kind of deficit? I started the race bloated like a bean bag.”
Organisers say that due to increases in the price of the internet they had to cut questions out of the application form, including ‘Do you have any medical conditions we should be aware of?’
Roger Boxhall, the event director, said, “We’ve had that question in the form for the last eight editions of the race and no-one has ever given us any useful info. About three or four times a year someone will put ‘I’m a vegan’, and that’s it. In fact, this year in the ‘what size T-shirt do you want?’ question, two people still managed to put ‘I’m a vegan’.”
Race organisers across the country are worried this will open the floodgates. Splashpedaljog Events are currently dealing with the case of Gavin Crabbe, which seems a rather ironic name given he is suing them for triggering his seafood allergy during the swim section of something called a ‘triathlon’.
“I spent a shedload on this race,” said Crabbe. “At the very least I would have thought they would clear the habour of any crustaceans. I must have inhaled a bit of prawn at the turnaround as I started to swell all over. My T1 was 27 minutes, and 20 minutes of that was trying to cut the wetsuit off. I at least want the cost of the wetsuit reimbursed. It was £900.”
“It’s a grey area,” said Walter Bennett, a retired lawyer and keen jogger. “A balance needs to be struck between keeping competitors safe and allowing organisers to put on events without spurious complaints. I heard someone comment that an event in January should have had the word “winter” in the title so that he knew not to enter because winter makes him sad.”
The Runion tried to contact the head of the English Joggers Association for comment but just got his out of office reply: “I’m sorry I can’t answer your email right now. I’m a vegan”.