A DISPUTE over whether the Omagh Half Marathon should be held on a Saturday or Sunday morning has arisen between race organisers and some traders in the town.
There are calls for the popular event to be moved from its traditional Saturday morning slot to a Sunday, in a bid to address traders’ concerns at a loss of revenue due to traffic disruption.
However, organisers are adamant that such a move would severely impact on the numbers participating in the annual event which attracted 4,000 entries last April.
They also say that the ‘Omagh Half’ contributes to a significant economic boost for the town.
The 13.1 mile race traditionally starts at 11am and moves through the town centre before proceeding along the outskirts of Omagh prior to concluding at the leisure complex.
Organisers have now moved the 2020 race forward by one hour to 10am in a bid to accommodate the traders.
Race director, Michael Ward said many businesses had no difficulty with the Saturday morning starting time.
But some traders feel strongly that the race should be moved to a Sunday morning and discussions to try and reach a compromise are understood to have been taking place between the organising athletic club, Omagh Harriers, Omagh Chamber of Commerce and Omagh Town Centre Forum.
Mr Ward said the majority of runners surveyed at this year’s event were in favour of the race continuing to be organised on a Saturday.
“The Omagh Half Marathon has been bringing thousands of runners to the town for a number of years and has grown substantially in its current Saturday morning slot,” he said.
“We have worked hard to ensure that it does not coincide with or affect businesses around key spring dates such as Easter and Mother’s Day. Our efforts to help create a carnival-type atmosphere in the town have also been widely welcomed.
“Our fear would be that moving the event to a Sunday would adversely impact on the numbers participating.
“And it would be extremely disappointing if the objections of a few created the possibilty of the half marathon not taking place.
“This is an enjoyable day and for many participants marks the culmination of major changes in their life-style.”
An application for road closures has been published this week and entries for the event are also due to open soon. Representatives of local businesses were unable to comment on the matter at the time of going to press.