On Sunday, almost 38,000 participants took part in the Virgin London Marathon. Since the event was first held in 1981, a spectacular £550m GBP ($887m USD / €674m EUR) has been raised for good causes, and this year, 29 Guinness World Records were broken on the day by enthusiastic fundraisers and athletes.
But while there’s much to be celebrated in this year’s achievements, organisers have been left red-faced following a high-profile data protection breach, which saw the names, addresses and email addresses of this year’s participants accidentally revealed on the Marathon website.
BBC News revealed that these data were publicly accessible to anyone logging in to the site throughout most of today (23 April), including the details of numerous celebrities and politicians. Website managers were reportedly unaware of the problem until the BBC contacted them.
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls MP, and BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth were among those whose details were shared on the site. The error has since been rectified, and the event’s organisers have issued apologies, as an investigation by the office of the UK’s Information Commissioner is launched.
“We apologise for this error, and are grateful to the BBC for bringing it to our attention,” said Nick Bitel, chief executive of the Virgin London Marathon. “We immediately made sure that the glitch was corrected. We do not believe that this has led to a substantial number of individuals’ details being accessed by members of the public.”
Editor’s footnote: A 30-year-old woman by the name of Claire Squires sadly died during this year’s event. She came remarkably close to the finish line, but tragically collapsed before she was able to complete it. Until the day of the event, she had managed to raise £400 for the Samaritans, a non-religious charity that provides support to those in emotional distress or who may be at risk of suicide.
Since Claire's death, an incredible surge of donations has flooded in, with over £200,000 ($322,000 / €245,000) being donated to the charity in her name. If you’d like to make a donation too, you can do so by visiting http://www.justgiving.com/Claire-Squires2.