CONTROVERSY has erupted around a leading charity cross-country event after the first female finisher was excluded from the prize-giving.
Runner Heather Walker arrived 20 minutes before the scheduled 11am of Wye Valley Runners' Muddy Woody 6 race and, although entries had been closed since mid-December, she was allocated a race number despite not having paid an entrance fee.
She went on to finish first of the female entrants among the 288 runners who completed the course.
"Two officials approached me and said I would not be winning anything as I didn't enter in the official manner," she said.
"They said they let me enter out of goodwill and did not expect me to win."
"The Muddy Woody 6 is one of the most popular events in the running calendar and sold out by the middle of December 2013," said Wye Valley Runners chairman Harry Franklin. "Every year we make it very clear we do not accept entries on the day for this race.
"Heather ran an excellent race in very challenging conditions and we fully recognise how disappointed she must be with the outcome. But the race rules make it clear we do not accept entries on the day and in fairness to all the other competitors we had no option but to treat her as a guest runner and not include her in the results.
"We wish Heather every success with her running in the future."
"If you go looking for an late entry surely you take the entry fee with you," said Ian Clarke, the MCAA Road and XC Administrator of the Midland Counties AA.
"My solution would be in this case for Wye Valley to put Heather's time in the results on receipt of the payment for the entry.
"As they actually let her run that should be honoured.
"That way her effort in the race is recorded in the results.
"At the end of the day it is the race organisers' decision to include her or not."