BOLTON hopefully won’t go down as the town that couldn’t organise a running race.

The economic and health benefits – not to mention the kudos in the running world – that could have been gained had we got the Bolton Marathon back could have been immense.

But the chances of that happening now are as remote as anyone knowing the full details for the late cancellation of this Sunday’s Bolton Half Marathon.

Just to recap on the main factors of this sorry story.

Bolton had a popular road marathon between 1981 and 1987 which attracted between 8,000 and 11,000 runners a year. In short, it was a big deal.

For the next 30 years Bolton had no road marathon – three decades in which some reflected nostalgically and spoke wistfully of the prospect of it being brought back.

Local runners Stewart Jones and Colin Rigby, via their company Mad Bull Events, very nearly did so.

They organised the Bolton Half Marathon last year with the intention of turning it into a full road marathon.

A combination of lower than expected entries and unexpectedly higher costs – don’t ask for specifics on the latter as no one seems to know them – meant Mad Bull would have made a loss on the event and pulled the plug.

Unfortunately, it didn’t only mean the end of the half marathon but also any chance there might have been of restoring a full road marathon in Bolton any time soon.

At Bolton parkrun last Saturday the cancellation was the only subject of conversation. One prominent running club member called it a “shambles”, while frustration and disappointment were universal.

It is an understatement to say the organisation of the event leaves a lot to be desired. Whatever the business reasons that led to it, it is poor form to call off a town’s major sporting event just 12 days before it was due to go ahead.

People had trained for weeks – in some cases months – to get in shape for the challenge, and a significant amount of money had been raised for charity which now will not reach its worthy causes.

All that effort is now for nothing.

Before blaming Mad Bull, however, it should be remembered they are the only people who have tried to bring back the Bolton road marathon, and they did their best.

They said they were given the final cost for road closures only a couple of weeks or so before the event.

The figure was higher than the original quote and too much for them to make up the difference without making a significant loss on the event.

Some might say they should have stood the loss having already got hundreds of people to enter; or maybe the people – whoever they are – who charge for road closures and diversions should have stuck to their original quote.

Whatever the ifs and buts the whole sorry tale has been a shambles and it would be understandable if people thought twice before committing themselves to doing a Bolton half or full marathon any time soon.

There are only three full marathons in the North West where runners are taken through the streets – in Manchester, Liverpool and Chester – each one attracting thousands of runners and bringing significant economic benefits to their cities.

Bolton could have joined them if there had been a more joined-up approach to organising one.