The 2017 U Sports Track and Field Championship men’s 3,000m developed into a race for the ages on Friday evening in Edmonton.
Confusion surrounding the number of laps remaining caused a race official to ring the bell, which signals one lap to go, too early. At the time, there were three athletes clear of the field including Laval’s Antoine Thibeault, Guelph’s Connor Black and Western’s Jack Sheffar. Black and Sheffar noticeably picked up the pace in what they, and possibly other runners in the race, figured was the final lap. The only problem was that the two battled to the line having only completed 2,800m.
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The 3,000m is a 15-lap event when run indoors on a 200m track and a counter, situated at the finish line, displays laps remaining. The confusion at the race’s end is believed to have originated when the remaining laps went from displaying “8” to “6.” That error reduced the necessary distance by 200m.
As can be seen in the video, Sheffar and Black duked it out in the final stretch and crossed the line exhausted. Thibeault, who ultimately won the race, defending his U Sports 3,000m title, appeared to be the only one of the three to realize that there was still another lap to go. Sheffar, in purple and white, did not finish the race as he stumbled to the ground. Black, to his credit, rebounded from the sprint on the penultimate lap and completed the remaining 200m to finish fourth.
Video (fast forward to 3:25 for the “bell lap”)
Laval’s head coach, Félix-Antoine Lapointe, told Canadian Running that he and other Laval runners and coaches yelled at Thibeault and Igor Bougnot to keep running. Black tweeted that “three-quarters” of the field “thought they finished at 2,800m.” Bougnot, also from Laval, finished second in 8:19.16 to Thibeault’s 8:12.98. Guelph’s Brayden Seneca finished third in 8:20.23.
It’s unclear whether there were appeals or whether there will be any changes in the results, which, understandably, were initially delayed as officials determined the appropriate action for the unusual series of events. The U Sports Championships, previously known as the CIS Championships, serve as the national championships for athletes representing Canadian-based universities.
“They struck [a] committee of conference representatives to decide what to do, then gathered all competitors afterwards and apologized for the mishap but stated the results will stand,” Jason Kerr of the Guelph Gryphons told Canadian Running.
Declan White, who finished ninth in the race, said he hopes there’s a re-run or a three-man “race off” between Black, Sheffar and Thibeault. A number of people have posted on Trackie, which features a forum focused on Canadian athletics, have taken sides on whether runners should have known where they were in the race while others note that confusion is understandable given the heat of the moment. The large clock at the finish line also stopped at 2,800m as it appears race timers may have been convinced the race was ending at 2,800m.
Two weeks ago, Sheffar was also involved in a dramatic finish as he narrowly won the men’s 1,500m at the OUA Championships. The Western athlete defeated Jeff Tweedle by 0.01 seconds on that occasion; the two will contest the 1,500m Saturday in what is the final day of action at the national university championships.
Event 12 Men 3000 Metre Run
U Sports: ! 7:59.29 1996 Jeff Schiebler, UBC
1 #160 Antoine Thibeault Laval 8:04.78 8:12.98 S 10
2 #145 Igor Bougnot Laval 8:10.35 8:19.16 8
3 #123 Brayden Seneca Guelph 8:14.68 8:20.23 6
4 #106 Connor Black Guelph 8:11.64 8:20.37 5
5 #159 Jonathan Tedeschi Laval 8:10.14 8:25.72 4
6 #129 Benjamin Workman Guelph 8:19.48 8:28.42 3
7 #119 Mark Patton Guelph 8:10.92 8:30.15 2
8 #288 Angus Rawling St Francis Xavier 8:19.99 8:33.59 1
9 #353 Declan White Trinity Western 8:06.39 8:34.60
10 #26 Royden Radowits Alberta 8:17.56 8:37.19
11 #193 Francois Jarry McGill 8:15.99 8:39.13
— #414 Jack Sheffar Western 8:10.40 DNF
— #437 Taylor McArthur Windsor 8:17.38 DNF
— #359 Chet Goerzen Victoria 8:19.59 DNS