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Community race cancelled for good after 38 years

Race director Alan Johnson said it had been a "difficult decision" to cancel the event." <i>(Image: Newsquest/Alan Johnson)</i>
Race director Alan Johnson said it had been a "difficult decision" to cancel the event." (Image: Newsquest/Alan Johnson)

Dwindling numbers and rising costs have forced a Kings Langley running race to be cancelled for good after 38 years.

Puffaten race director Alan Johnson, 70, said it had been a “difficult decision” to cancel the 10km and 1.5km races, which were set to take place on June 16.

“With the race three weeks away, there came a point where a decision had to be made,” he said. “Given the expenditure that would be necessary to continue, we had to call it off.”

Watford Observer: Race director Alan Johnson, Robin, Batman and Sir Mike Penning at a previous Puffaten event.
Watford Observer: Race director Alan Johnson, Robin, Batman and Sir Mike Penning at a previous Puffaten event.

Race director Alan Johnson, Robin, Batman and Sir Mike Penning at a previous Puffaten event. (Image: Alan Johnson)

First set up by local postman John Cherry, who died in 2015, the race was hosted by Kings Langley Primary School in Common Lane and run by the Comets Running Club.

Watford Observer: Alan Johnson is leader of the Kings Langley Scout Group as well as former Puffaten race director.
Watford Observer: Alan Johnson is leader of the Kings Langley Scout Group as well as former Puffaten race director.

Alan Johnson is leader of the Kings Langley Scout Group as well as former Puffaten race director. (Image: Alan Johnson)

Alan became race director 10 years ago and he explained that the Puffaten had experienced an “extraordinary” drop in runners post-pandemic.

Watford Observer: The race has been running for 38 years with 1.5km edition for children.
Watford Observer: The race has been running for 38 years with 1.5km edition for children.

The race has been running for 38 years with 1.5km edition for children. He recalled the race had a “real party and holiday atmosphere” when up to 120 people would take part, with runners often in fancy-dress and Wonder Woman conducting a warm-up routine.

Watford Observer: Batman and Robin at the Puffaten race in 2014.
Watford Observer: Batman and Robin at the Puffaten race in 2014.

Batman and Robin at the Puffaten race in 2014. But participants fell to just 30 last year and only just reached double-figures this year with the race weeks away.

The race volunteers and runners have been informed of the news and their entry fees refunded.