THE decision to scrap the full marathon in Bournemouth was made after BCP Council said it could not guarantee its organiser a consistent route.

Speaking at Tuesday’s full council meeting, cabinet member for communities, councillor Lewis Allison, said GSi was “within its rights” to drop the longer distance.

“The festival was tendered in 2018 on a six-year contract and they were the only organisation to apply,” he said.

“The decision not to have a marathon is part of them wanting a guarantee of being able to run the same route every year.

“This was not something the council could provide with it including residential areas where we do not have full control."

He was responding to questions from Conservative councillor Drew Mellor in the wake of GSi's decision to scrap the longer race starting from next year.

The announcement was made the day after this year’s festival finished and has been described as “heartbreaking” by competitors.

It said it "had been working closely" with the council "to make the best decisions for the future of the event".

The council said it had nothing to do with the decision.

More than 10,000 people took part in races at last month’s event – with about a quarter running the full 26.2 mile course.

That compares to just under 6,000 people – 35 per cent of whom took part in the longest distance – who entered in the first year of the festival in 2013.

Sixty-three per cent of participants came from outside the area, Cllr Alison added, providing a boost to the economy.

But Cllr Mellor accused the council of "lacking ambition" by not requiring the event’s organisers by contract to provide a full marathon race.

Speaking at Tuesday's meeting, he said: "I have taken part in the marathon and it is a fantastic course – it's one of the most iconic in the country.

"Losing it will be bad for Bournemouth and we need to look at getting it back in future years."

But Cllr Allison said no other company had expressed any interest in running the festival when it had put it out to tender last year.

"This arrangement gives them more flexibility to change the route which makes it more attractive," he added.

Next year's festival is scheduled to take place over October 3 and 4.