When you’re running as fast as you can, it can be tough to keep track of time or laps. A lot of us (most of us, probably) have had moments in speed workouts when we can’t remember if we’re on our fourth or fifth repeat. That’s OK in training, but it’s a different story when you lose count of your laps in a race. If that happens, you could find yourself sprinting to what you believe is victory when in reality you have a whole lap to go. Surprisingly, this tends to happen a quite a bit in professional races, so here are the best (or worst) instances when runners stopped running too soon.
Fantu Worku — London Diamond League
In the women’s 3,000m race at the London Diamond League in 2018, Ethiopia’s Fantu Worku pushed past Kenyan runner Lilian Kasait Rengeruk with 300m to go. She looked powerful and in control as she approached the final turn, but then she stopped running with 200m left. When Rengeruk and the rest of the field blew by her on their way to the finish, she realized her mistake, but it was too late to get back into contention and she didn’t finish the race.
Hagos Gebrhiwet — Lausanne Diamond League
A year after Worku’s mixup in London, her fellow Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet suffered a similar mistake at the 2019 Diamond League event in Lausanne, Switzerland. Gebrhiwet thought he had the win in the 5,000m as he sprinted down the finishing straight. He didn’t seem to hear the bell signalling that he still had a lap to go as he crossed the finish line, and it took him about 10 seconds to realize he was celebrating 400m too early. He jumped back into the race, but he had already run his finishing kick, and he faded to 10th place.
— Sir Ace (@SirAce13) June 4, 2017
Camille Herron — Comrades Marathon
American ultrarunner Camille Herron had a four-minute lead over second place at the 2017 Comrades Marathon in South Africa when she thought she had won the race. She crossed what she believed to be the finish line and stopped running. Luckily, she was directed back onto the course by another runner and toward the actual finish line, which she eventually crossed for the real win. It’s a good thing she had such a healthy lead in the first place.
Lopez Lomong — Payton Jordan Invitational
At the 2012 Payton Joran Invitational, American Lopez Lomong dropped the hammer with 600m to go in the race. He flew away from the rest of the field, and when it became clear that he was sprinting, one of the race commentators asked, “Does he know that he’s got another lap?” Well, he didn’t know, but he had such a massive lead that even after wasting a couple of seconds with a premature celebration, he was able to get back into the race for a painful extra 400m. He managed to stay in front and won the race in 13:11.
Jonathan Jones — Monaco Diamond League
While everyone else on this list stopped when they should’ve kept going, Jonathan Jones of the U.S. ran when he should have stopped. There was a false start in the 400m race at the Monaco Diamond League in 2019, but Jones didn’t realize and he ran the entire race. To be fair, two other athletes ran with him for more than 100m. The worst part is that Jones ran a PB of 44.64, but since the racers had been called back, his time didn’t count. Not a stopping-too-early moment, but still a mistake concerning an extra lap of the track.