A video has been released by a volunteer (shown below) at the London Marathon who was overseeing a water point. The video depicts what appears to be local residents from Deptford helping themselves to the water. Some people even stashing as much as they could fit into trolly bags.
The incident has seen every mainstream headline determine that people were “stealing” the water and showing “shocking images”. Several far right blogs and social media pages have picked up the story and have used it to their own ends.
For some it has become a debating point around racial issues and deprived communities. We wanted to take a different look at the incident and disect the various aspects and questions surrounding it.
In the video the volunteer states that the “last bus” had just gone past indicating the end of the marathon, and whilst a few runners can still be seen going past it would appear that these are the very last few runners. The oldest YouTube video we can find was uploaded ‘7 hours ago’ as at 23:45 putting the incident at around 4:45pm. Although of course it could have happened prior to this time as some claim. The last race will have begun at 10:00am so even allowing for a two hour delay in uploading the video at least the vast majority of racers would have finished.
It’s important to note that London Marathon have confirmed nothing about this incident other than to say they are ‘investigating’. This may have been a legitimate grab of left-over water..at least as the local people interpreted it. Maybe there was a comment by a volunteer that sparked the grab, maybe someone asked to take one and others caught wind of it and suddenly it becomes a free for all. We won’t really know until an investigation is complete.
The question is, what is there to investigate? What happens to the left-over water at the end of a Marathon?
At the end of the marathon as pointed out in this article 4 tonnes of waste will be collected plus 40,000 plastic bottles will be recycled. This will refer to the empty or partially used plastic bottles that the runners will have consumed during the race, many runners will take just a few sips and discard the bottle laying perfectly good water to waste.
It’s not overly clear what will happen to the left-over full bottles of water as there is nothing stated on the London Marathon nor the Buxton Water websites and in lieu of an answer.. is it possible that these too get recycled or even trashed as happened here at the Miami Marathon?
Perhaps they do get sent to charities, to people in need. What we see in the video is a lot of bottles but likely just a drop in the ocean of all those around the race circuit. Most would still, if this is what happens, go to charity. This is not a mass theft, this was a bunch of local people taking what they could carry and whilst if this was nothing more than a simple theft and thus being unacceptable, you have to ask, if people feel the need to steal the bottles of water…perhaps their need is greater than yours and that’s the reason you can’t relate to their looting?
Buxton water will have gained free marketing and advertising of their product by providing the free water to the runners that usually costs around £1 or more per bottle in the shops, the runners, those that often have the means to train for the marathon in terms of time and money.
Even putting that aside, many of the runners will be raising money for charities that cover poverty and disenfranchised communities. Would it not be ironic that the very people “stealing” the bottles of water might be some of those people in poverty?
However despite all these points some will still insist that there are no excuses and that ‘these people’ are ‘scum’ as the following examples will show. It just leaves me to ponder what their response was and will be in the future when white people loot wood from the beaches from lost cargo at sea?
Or maybe as some people are describing them as animals, what would they make of white people fighting over the offers on Black Friday right here in the UK?
Maybe a black woman ‘running’ with 5 gallons of water upon her head during a Marathon may make some people be less inclined to make it an issue about race and focus on much more pressing issues.
And just maybe it’s something that happens every year with the permission of race organisers?