UPDATE (Sept. 16): The Boston Athletics Association announced, as reported by Lehigh Valley Live, that it will not be accepting 95 runners’ adjusted times from the Lehigh Valley Marathon. Video of the incident has surfaced recently with footage available below.
Some runners who raced the Lehigh Valley Marathon in Allentown, Pa. were forced to stop because of a passing freight train that cut across the course. The incident is believed to have happened at the 11K mark of the Pennsylvania race as a freight train interrupted the marathon mid-race.
The race, notable for being a fast race for those wanting to quality for the Boston Marathon, was held on Sept. 11.
Race organizers posted the following to Facebook:
“Despite absolute assurances from Norfolk Southern Railroad that trains would be suspended from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the morning of September 11, 2016, a train was dispatched just before 8 a.m., holding up runners in the seventh mile (11K) of the race.”
This year’s race was the 10th anniversary of the event and, according to Gerry Yasso, the vice-president of the organizing company, the railroad crossing has not been an issue in the past. Yasso says that the incident was “quite unexpected” as prior arrangements had been made to avoid any conflict between trains and the runners. The train operator is reportedly Norfolk Southern.
Organizers add that runners affected by this incident should contact firstname.lastname@example.org with pertinent data and details on how the train affected their time. Times will be addressed on a runner-by-runner basis.
Some of the runners affected took to Facebook to voice their concerns on how their races were interrupted. In some cases, runners had to wait upwards of eight minutes putting their bid to qualify for the Boston Marathon in jeopardy.
One of the runners who stopped said “F*ck freight trains. Nobody likes you. Go back to the 1800s.” Another runner said “Great train robbery of approximately 6:19.”
A Strava Flyby of the part of the race in question
Aerial footage on Google Maps confirms that the race course crossed a railroad track at the same spot as where the runners stopped according to the GPS data.
The three runners that you see continue without stopping are believed to have jumped through the open cars of the freight train. However, the group may have been larger since not all runners use Strava or record their races using GPS data. Richie Gebauer gave his race the name “Hopped My First Moving Train” on Strava.
A comment in the below post reads: “Runners were jumping on to the train to try and stay on pace. One almost fell under the wheels.”
The Lehigh Valley Marathon was in the headlines over recent years because of Mike Rossi, the marathon dad believed to have cheated his way to a Boston Marathon qualifying time.