There is perhaps no greater nightmare for a marathon runner than finding out that an entire season’s worth of training has been irrevocably altered by a poorly measured course. Dealing with such a debacle is also no doubt quite the nightmare for race officials. And, in the end, no one wins and nothing can be done to reverse what has happened.
Thus, after two months of murmuring, rumours and quiet email exchanges the air can finally be cleared: The BMO Vancouver marathon course was too long.
According to a pair of emails that were sent to the top 148 finishers of the May 6 race, the error was actually discovered during the race and an adjustment was made on the fly as runners rounded the halfway point. Only the first 148 finishers ran long in the end.
The lead runners may have run as much as 382m, with the last runners affected by this inaccuracy having to perhaps run no more than about 5m. These figures were those provided by Jordan Myers, the marathon race director in his initial email to those 148 runners.
This, of course, is not the first major measurement gaffe at a race in Canada in 2012. As Canadian Running reported in June, the Whistler half-marathon was well over a kilometre short.
In a follow-up email Myers clarifies the situation regarding the overly long times:
“In the last two weeks we have consulted and reviewed this situation with BC Athletics and Athletics Canada and have been advised that the course that day will be recognized as long for those 148 runners, but the times will remain as they are without correction.”
And so those on the outside looking in at a squandered attempt at running a qualifying time for, say, the Boston Marathon have no other recourse at this time. This is unfortunate, considering that the error was only sorted out as runners who went on to run around the 3:10 mark passed the halfway point, leaving many male runners aiming for that elusive sub-3:05 Boston qualifier perhaps affected, depending on how competitive the entries are in Boston next year.
Myers did, however, offer an apology on behalf of the organizing committee.