The Potters ’Arf marathon has been cancelled as civic leaders urge residents to follow social distancing health advice, in response to the coronavirus.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has taken the step to call off the road race in consultation with Hanley Economic Building Society, race sponsors and charities as part of a managed and proportionate response to the outbreak. Around 850 people had already signed up to take part in the city’s biggest annual running race on 14 June, and they will be contacted and reimbursed their registration fee.

The announcement comes as the council has suspended membership fees for its gyms across the city after they closed on Friday 20 March following national guidance.

In making the announcements council leader Abi Brown has emphasised the importance of people following Public Health England advice on physical distancing.

She said: “The decision to cancel the Potters ’Arf has been taken to protect the health and wellbeing of walkers and runners, officials, volunteers and spectators, and to alleviate the risk of an additional burden on the emergency services at what is a hugely testing time. We don’t take this decision lightly – we are working through what is the biggest health challenge of a generation. It is vitally important that people follow latest public health advice.

“The weather may be nice, people may be at home and schools may not be open, but this is not a bank holiday. Do not treat it as such. Everyone needs to practice physical distancing. People should ensure they keep a distance of two metres between themselves and other people at all times. We should all be doing all we can to reduce our social interactions to limit the transmission of the coronavirus.”

The ‘Arf includes walking and relay team sections for those who do not want to run the full 13.1 miles. There’s also a free 1,000-metre junior race for youngsters aged six to 15 years old. All participants who complete the course receive a t-shirt, goody bag and special Potters ’Arf medal.

Over the past 16 years more than 30,000 people have taken part in the Potters ’Arf and numbers were expected to reach more than 1,800 this year.

Since it first started, the event has also raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities – including the two main causes the Douglas Macmillan Hospice and the Donna Louise Trust.

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