NEXT year's Taunton Marathon Half Marathon has been cancelled due to a big drop in runners taking part.

Taunton Carnival Committee, who organise the race traditionally held in April, have decided staging it next spring would be a financial risk.

The 26-mile run, first competed for in April 1983, saw just under 1,300 entries in 2019.

A total of 820 people had signed up to take part in 2020 before the event was cancelled due to Covid.

This year there was another drop in numbers, with just 770 runners.

The 10k, held in September, has suffered a similar decrease in participants, but organisers say the risk in the shorter distance race "is lower and more manageable".

In a joint statement, Marilyn House, chairman of Taunton and District Carnival Committee Ltd and race director John Lewis said: "The vast bulk of our income is from the fees runners pay to take part, so the drop in numbers has a significant effect on the bank balance.

"We are of course extremely grateful to our long-term sponsors and supporters, without whom it would not have been possible to put on the events.

"Several of the race infrastructure costs are not related to the number of entries.

"Items such as medals have to be ordered well in advance, so we have to make an educated guesstimate on quantities.

"Like everyone involved in event organising we see the costs around transport, fuel, equipment hire and support services rising alarmingly.

"This is largely due to the global inflationary situation and the war in Ukraine.

"We also recognise that we cannot simply just pass the increases on to potential participants. The same inflationary and reduced income pressures affect us all."

They added: "The marathon and half marathon are successful as road race competitions and recognised as being well-organised, something we have all worked hard to maintain over many years.

"However, with the ongoing economic situation, the rise in inflation and the cost of living crisis, the reality is that it would be financially very challenging for us to put on the event in 2023.

"The decision is as much a disappointment to us as it will be to many runners, both local and from across the country."