Boston Athletic Association Denies Qualifier Status for Misdirected Runners

The Boston policy is to only consider adjusted times if the course is long.
Wrong way sign at angle against blue sky with clouds.

Both The Woodlands Marathon and The Marathon of The Treasure Coast received bad news from the B.A.A. late last week.

The Woodlands Marathon

As previously reported, Woodlands runners were misdirected, causing them to run 0.8 miles short of a full marathon.

According to the results now posted, over 150 runners have times that would normally have met Boston qualifying standards. The marathon issued a statement that they were notified by the B.A.A. that the times from The 2017 Woodlands Marathon will not be considered for Boston Marathon acceptance.

 

 

When asked by a Facebook poster if there was an explanation for the decision, the marathon replied.

 

Marathon of The Treasure Coast

I learned last week that the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) had notified the Treasure Coast timer that they will not accept any times from a runner that ran less than the full marathon distance. Throughout the week, the timer for Treasure Coat was  working with the B.A.A. to determine what, if any consideration may be made for runners that made up the distance after realizing that they were misrouted.

The marathon received word on Friday that no consideration will be given towards runners that did not run the 26.2 miles on the course.

Below is the official statement that Marathon put out last week prior to the B.A.A. communicating their decision.

In an email conversation with the Mike Melton – the timing and events coordinator, he provided some more details.

The lead bicyclist took the first pack of five runners on the correct course, through the downtown Stuart area and into Flagler Park where the course turned onto a boardwalk.  The course exited the boardwalk about a block from the prior course pathway, turned and proceeded onward.  Once the lead pack had gone through, for some as yet unknown reason, the traffic control police officer took it upon himself to direct runners into a right-hand turn instead of continuing straight on through the traffic circle and on into downtown.  These ‘right-turn’ runners ran one block, and then saw the course markings leading them out of the downtown area.  A couple of minutes later, the lead pack ran off the boardwalk and found themselves joining this stream of runners heading out of downtown.

At some point, enough runners who knew the course continued to run past the policeman and on into downtown, and so the runner stream was diverted back on course from that point on.

Mike was able to determine which runners ran the course short. Most were half marathoners. There were 17 total runners that ran Boston qualifying times. Mike later confirmed that 2 of those ran the correct route – runners with slower BQ standards that were further back. That leaves 15 runners ran faster than their qualifying standard, but will not be considered Boston qualifiers.

Last year, 2 runners used The Marathon of The Treasure Coast to run Boston. In terms of running Boston, this error affects significantly less runners than the error at The Woodlands Marathon.

I reached out to the race director Jeanne Brower. She expressed disappointment over the context given to her quote that appeared on the local news site TCPalm.com.

“MOST PEOPLE WENT THE CORRECT DIRECTION AND WE HAD SIGNS THERE, BUT THEY WERE IN A PACK AND (WHEN) WE HAVE A COUPLE OF PEOPLE GO IN THE WRONG DIRECTION, OTHERS WILL FOLLOW. WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT AS A RUNNER IS TO MAKE SURE YOU KNOW YOUR COURSE. WE DON’T HAVE COURSE MARSHALS AT EVERY SINGLE INTERSECTION, SO PEOPLE SHOULD STUDY THE COURSE BEFORE THEY COME OUT TO RUN IT.”  

Below is her response to my request for an additional statement.

While the quotes attributed to me were words I said, they were taken out of context and don’t properly convey the full extent of my position on what happened.  The full context of what I meant to convey was that while it’s always a good idea for runners to know the course, that it’s our job as race staff and management to provide runners with a course that is clearly and unequivocally marked.  Our route team did a great job marking the course, and it’s incredibly unfortunate that the error occurred when a traffic control police officer meant to help direct runners but instead directed them off-course instead. 

We were heartbroken when we realized what happened, and we did everything we could to minimize the impact on runners and the race.  In the end, about 14% of those who ran our course were impacted by this, and that includes at most 17 runners who may have run a Boston-qualifying time in the marathon.  We are in contact with the BAA and we are doing everything we can in order to provide our runners with valid BQ times.  Again, we accept full responsibility for this incident, and we have taken steps to institute route control processes that will insure that this never happens again in our race. 

After receiving final word from the B.A.A., Mike made this statement,

Needless to say, we’re disappointed that our runners will be penalized (by not being allowed to use their times for BQ) due to nothing they did, but due to our error. We’ve offered those affected runners some compensation options, and we’re working on processes that will prevent such an error from happening in the future.

I don’t think there is any doubt that both races I am now taking responsibility for their errors. The result is extremely unfortunate for any runners that planned to use their times to run Boston in 2018. However, I do believe the decision made by the B.A.A. was the correct decision.

 

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  • Nate
    14 March 2017 at 11:16 am

    I think these decisions by BAA will really force people to focus on a quality of a race vs just being certified but run half-assed. The biggest and “best” marathons are some of the worst run quality (with regards to actual race execution) while there are small no-event races what will have you 100% certain they are quality races where accuracy in distances and timing is not in doubt. It sucks that this happened but I don’t think the BAA is wrong. This was not extenuating circumstances (like a house fire in the course causing detouring), this was plain poor execution. If you let these slip in then you open the door to allowing any half assed race to be BAA qualifying via “they’ll just adjust the time”. While I don’t believe in the holy Sancitity of Boston like it’s some Mecca (it’s just a big city marathon), they do have fairly strict qualifying process and they should maintain that

    And I wrote way too Much regarding this

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