WINCHESTER Half Marathon has been cancelled over renewed fears about Covid.

Organisers say they are "heartbroken" over the decision for the 2,000-athlete event on Sunday September 20 but say they have no choice with Government restrictions being tightened.

Usually a highlight in the local calendar, the organisers of the half marathon are devastated at having to cancel their event, which was in its fifth year.

Nikki Rees, managing director of organisers Rees Leisure said: “We are utterly heartbroken that all of our fantastic runners who have been training for months for the Winchester Half Marathon, won’t be able to run the event on the day. We do however understand the need to protect the NHS and health and safety is always the number one priority at all of our events.”

The organisers have been able to offer an alternative to those still keen to get outside and run and receive a t-shirt and medal for their efforts. The Winchester Half Virtual Race, recently launched, allows runners to cover the 13.1km half marathon distance in one go or over as many runs, walks or jogs as they choose, up until December 31.

Ms Rees added: “We are delighted to be able to offer the runners an opportunity to get a sense of achievement during these difficult times, as well as a fantastic Finisher t-shirt and sustainable medal to wear with pride. Exercise is not only important for the body but also for mental health too, so having a goal, like the Winchester Half Virtual Race to work towards can provide some real motivation during these difficult times.”

The Winchester Half Virtual Race medal is a further step towards sustainability for the event organisers. The medals are made of wood, crafted in the UK (reducing travel pollution) and the material comes from recycled wood in Wales.

For those runners unable to compete in the Virtual race, they can now sign up early to the Winchester Half Marathon 2021 event instead, with registrations now open.