*CHANGE TO RACE ROUTE HATFIELD FOREST *
The Operations Manager of Hatfield Forest, Mr. Henry Bexley, has told us that we cannot run our Takeley 10k race through Hatfield Forest for 2019.
The decision has been made by Hatfield Forest Management/ The National Trust as follows:
They will not allow ANY LARGE RUNNING EVENTS in Hatfield Forest for the Summer of 2019.
We have therefore had to change our route to incorporate this. Please see our race route page for further details.
This is extremely disappointing news for us especially as we only run about 2.5k around the edge of the Forest and really cannot agree that our ‘footfall’ causes any damage to the important Flora and Fauna of the Forest. However, the good news is that 90% of the route will be exactly the same as other years and we will still be an ‘off-road’ event along the Old Disused Railway Track (The Flitch Way) starting from The Old Takeley Railway Station and finishing at the back of the Takeley Silver Jubilee Hall. There will be a new 1km stretch of road running which we will endeavour to make as safe as possible with extra Marshalls etc.
Here are the statements / rationale behind the decision from Henry Bexley.
It is becoming apparent from our ride condition assessments that the Forest isn’t recovering from the winter footfall problem, even in the summer months. This time of year is critical for that recovery to take place. As a SSSI, we are at formal threat of losing our ‘recovering’ condition status due to this problem and the consequences for the site on all levels – ecologically, financially (in terms of fines) and reputationally would be dire.
Throughout the 2019 summer season and beyond we’re working with Natural England to try and reduce the impact throughout the year as far as possible. Unfortunately, we will no longer be able to license large running events on the Forest at any time of year.
The Forest has become a victim of its own success, and all the time there isn’t much in the way of an alternative in the area, but large new housing developments continue to be built around the environs, we are fast seeing the property becoming swallowed up by urbanisation. It is the vast increase in footfall from approximately a quarter of a million to half a million visits every year now (and rising exponentially along with housing) which is the largest concern. We are expected on one hand to provide green space but on the other ensure that the Forest remains in good condition, but with current numbers there is no respite, which is why we have had to review the recreational activities on the site.
It is the overall effect of too many feet on the Forest rides and wood pasture in general, largely throughout the wet winter months which is the issue, so we must look at all ways possible to reduce this and encourage the vital summer time recovery.