On Friday, Gene Dykes, whose name has spread rapidly since he supposedly broke Ed Whitlock’s 2:54:48 M70 marathon record at the Jacksonville Marathon in Florida on December 15, posted on Facebook that his record is not valid due to the fact that the Jacksonville Marathon is not USATF-sanctioned.
Dykes ran 2:54:23 in Jacksonville. Here’s what he posted on Facebook:
“Before running the Jacksonville Marathon, I reached out to the race director for assurance that it was a suitable venue for setting a world record, and I received the response that “you should have a good shot at the record.” I assumed that he was correct, but I was remiss in not doing my own homework. It appears that, although the Jacksonville Marathon is certified by the USATF, the race was not sanctioned by the USATF, and both must be valid for recognition of records by USATF/IAAF.
“Thank you all so much for the nice things posted about my race. I am still proud of what I’ve accomplished–it just looks like it’s not going to be “official.” That said, I still have four more years to do it right, and, who knows, that might happen sooner than you think!”
A USATF document entitled “Overview and Differences of the USATF Event Sanctioning Program and Course Certification Program” points out that “People often are confused by the differences in of two of USA Track & Field’s most popular services, Event Sanctioning and Course Certification.” It goes on to explain that course certification attests only to the accuracy of the course measurement, and event sanctioning has nothing to do with the length of the course. It goes on to explain what sanctioning means, and while knowledgeable runners might know that only USATF-sanctioned events are record-eligible, nowhere is this stated explicitly.
When we spoke with Dykes, he expressed disappointment, but takes responsibility for not knowing the race was not record-eligible. “After the race, some people started hinting that the race wasn’t sanctioned, and I noticed online that it wasn’t sanctioned. I could have done that before the race, and I should have. I can’t blame anyone but myself.”
Dykes says he doesn’t really understand why record-eligibility should be tied up with all the other things necessary for an event to be sanctioned (such as insurance), but accepts that “rules are rules.”
He goes on to say that he had his races for the coming year planned out before finding out he can no longer claim to have broken Whitlock’s record: “I have to shoehorn in another marathon somewhere and find the time to train for it… It was much better going into Jacksonville with nobody knowing about it.”
Dykes, an enthusiastic ultrarunner as well as road marathoner, was trying for the record at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October, where he ran sub-3 but failed to break the record: “I knew going into Toronto I wasn’t quite there, that it would be close… and I couldn’t be positive going into Jacksonville. I’d run the 50K and a marathon just two weeks before on back-to-back days. Can you recover from that in 13 days? I didn’t know for sure. Anyway, I’ve got a plan, and I’d rather go in without a lot of speculation beforehand.”
Dykes hints that that could be sooner rather than later, so watch this space for the next instalment in the M70 marathon record saga.