Sunday’s Toronto Marathon and associated races drew numerous complaints from runners who didn’t get a medal or food because the race ran out, who weren’t sure where the turnaround was, and who tussled with cyclists and strollers on the Martin Goodman Trail. There were also problems in the 5K, with runners being misdirected due to a lack of volunteers, cutting as much as 1.5K off the course.
The race organization has apologized for the problems on the 5K course, claiming the race was short of volunteer course marshals.
However, despite numerous complaints that the marathon course was as much as a kilometre long, race director Jay Glassman refuted this, claiming the course is measured accurately and certified by Athletics Canada as a Boston qualifier. As he and others told various news outlets, tall buildings can interfere with GPS signals, causing distance measurements to vary, and many runners will vouch for the fact that GPS are rarely completely accurate, especially in urban areas.
THE BIG DAY HAS ARRIVED. Best of luck to all of our runners! We'll see you at the finish 🏅 pic.twitter.com/Otl1bi9Dwp
— Toronto Marathon (@torontomarathon) May 5, 2019
Problems are not unusual at races, which require months of planning and decision-making, and they happen even at large, well-run events. Something as simple as a resident moving a barricade (such as what happened at the Ottawa Marathon in 2006) can cause runners to go off-course and result in multiple disqualifications. Last year at the Mississauga Marathon, several of the frontrunners were misdirected at the 30K mark (again due to a lack of trained volunteers), which cost them time.
It’s difficult to know which of the issues represent legitimate concerns and which are exaggerated, but the race has certainly lost a few fans this year.