The Woodlands Marathon
As spelled out in the letter from race officials, the lead motorcycle took a wrong turn, resulting in runners cutting 0.8 miles off of the course.
One runner that I spoke with had the following to say:
“I couldn’t see the first mile marker anywhere but there, about a quarter mile ahead, was #2. That made no sense. Well, maybe it was one random misplaced sign. Nope. GPS said we were at about 2.25 when we hit marker 3 and 3.25 at 4. Looked like that was going to hold. Three-quarters of a mile off at the beginning of a marathon. Biggest discrepancy I’ve ever seen.”
“Someone in our group was local and mentioned he thought we’d missed a turn in the first mile because he had trained on the course. By the 10k mat, volunteers were talking about how we (not my group but the entire participant field) had missed a turn.”
“That explained not seeing the first mile marker. We never passed it!”
“The race acted like it was business as usual afterwards; it wasn’t until a lot later they started to acknowledge it was short. I doubt it will affect that many people going for a 50 States certified finish, unlike when this happens in Alaska or Hawaii. But the Boston hopefuls… man.”
Marathon of The Treasure Coast
“We had a little mix-up in the beginning, so I made it up on the back half and ran a little extra to make up for the shortcoming at the beginning.” Matt Treat – Overall Marathon Winner
I received reports last night that many runners were mis-directed. This was confirmed in an article on TCPalm.com this morning. According to the article a police officer misdirected runners. An unknown number of participants were affected.
“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.”
-Marathon of The Treasure Coast RD Jeanne Brower
If a police officer points me in a direction, I’m going to follow his instructions unless I am 100% certain he is wrong. I think it is inappropriate for Ms. Brower to put this on the runners. When you are running a race, you are going to follow the flow. She so much as says that, while at the same time blaming the runners.
It was reported in the TCPalm article that many runners ran the extra distance and were given “accurate” times utilizing their GPS
In both these cases, the main issue is with Boston Qualifying Times. There have been some instances where Boston has allowed time adjustments to be recognized for qualifying purposes. I was at The Flying Pig in 2008 when a fire forced a re-route. Boston allowed the adjusted times to count. It is ultimately the decision of the B.A.A. on how to handle these results. If someone beat their BQ by 30 minutes should they be allowed? Or if they show they made up the distance? No matter what Boston does, there will be criticism. I will wait and see. I do think it’s a slippery slope if they don’t make an all or none decision regarding the Boston qualifiers.
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If even one runner goes off course, it means there’s something the race organizers can improve.
reminder me never to run in a race directed by JEANNE BROWER. What an extraordinarily stupid response! Ah, Ms. Brower: what are WE paying you for? Yes! race marshals, proper course markings. “Study the course”!!!!?. People, if you want to BQ, do it at an established, well run event which is either small, midsize or large. Do your research. Just a warning.
It looks like all of the marathon race at Woodlands took the short route, at first runners said it was only the front group that was misdirected (not sure how officials would have re-directed runners midstream…). Also, if this becomes BQ eligible, one of the top females didn’t cross any timing mats on the course and only has finish line photos.
I was in that misdirected pack when a bicycle Rider told us to turn around I was the last one to turn around there were lots of people in front of me that just kept on going. They were told they missed the turn. I think there were lots of runners who cut off a mile or so. I was running an 8:30 pace so everyone faster than that ran a short course.
What amazes me is the quality of the product. At the end of the day the RD have one job, get people from A => B and they can’t even do that. These sort of things should not happen, but in my 10+ years in the sport, 5+ as a professional, it is surprising just how often it happens.
It is true; it’s incumbent upon the runner to know the course. The US T&F rules are very clear on that. But c’mon now, this was not a fat ass race. Folks payed their fees, they expect certain amenities and an accurately measured and clearly marked course or clear and accurate directions are the most basic things one can expect from a race.
I ran Woodlands and it was weird to not see the mile 1 marker. I heard people commenting around me “well last year we took a turn, I guess they changed it”. All through the race I heard people commenting on the mile markers and their Garmin. I didn’t use a Garmin, just my Nike app and I had turned off the vocal cues. So disappointing to finish the race and open the app and see I only had ran 25.7 miles. I will not do this race again. I am a single mom to three kids and I sacrificed much to train and pay to run this marathon. I am not near BQ times, but I do not feel like I ran a genuine marathon Saturday. Very let down….
To RunsNoMore and Jeanne Brower, as a 25+ year RD I couldn’t disagree more about your statements that the onus of knowing a course 100% is the responsibility of the racer. Sure, that’s what we all heard when we ran XC growing up. But with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of runners showing up at a race not from that area, as an RD you gotta make it fool proof. Ms. Brower says “…we don’t have Course Marshals at every intersection…” Why not? The Woodlands Marathon course looks like it has about 19 intersections where runners turn. They have a bunch where runners stay straight, I’m not counting those. I know they have other distances too, but how can you not find 20 Course Marshals for your marathon course? The marathon I produce, which is about 2500 finishers so it’s bigger than Woodlands (~1000 for them) but not one of the real big races, we have 180 Course Monitors along with about 50 Police. We produce other races too, and our standard is that if there is a course turn we have a Course Monitor there with written instructions and a map to help them do their job.
Here’s the thing with trying to shift blame for taking a wrong turn onto the racers… As we’ve seen numerous times over the years, sometimes a course needs to change on the fly. The fire at Flying Pig. The suspicious package at Pittsburgh. Stuff like that happens, and sometimes an RD needs to make a call on the fly to change the course around. The last thing I want is runners in my race second guessing if a Course Official is telling them to go in a certain direction. Last year we were informed of a gas leak as the start of our marathon was imminent. The last thing I want is for us to get the go-ahead with a course alteration in place and have the racers ignore our escort vehicles/bikes and Course Monitors and run into danger.
By the way, Boston accepted times from the 2008 Flying Pig Marathon because the re-route was longer than 26.2 miles. There may be examples, but I can’t think of any, where Boston accepted times from course found to be short.
The Woodlands ran a short course for the Full Marathon in 2016 also; I know people that ran it and you can look at data on Strava and compare to the certified map. A lot of 25.7-25.9 results. They had the turn-around on Ken Lake Drive (around mile 14.7) not far enough down the street. They never disclosed this last year even though notified. They did get that right in 2017, but obviously had far greater problems.
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