I ran the huge Stockholm Marathon this past Saturday and said how well run it was and what a nice race it was. Well, turns out, almost 2 hours ahead of me, there was some drama with the lead pack where people charged with a very important job failed at it – and it almost cost the winner the race.
Lead Runners Misled at the Stockholm Marathon
For the thousands of us that are not at the front, it is pretty easy to run the proper marathon course – just follow the crowds in front of us. In places where there may be confusion, there are usually road marshalls pointing us in the right direction. Normally, if you are going to go off the course, it has to be deliberate (like one guy I saw on Saturday who just cut under the line, ignored the volunteers shouting at him, and shaved like 4 miles off the course).
Well, for those in the lead, they are depending on the lead car or lead motorcycles to guide them the right way. I will say this – the Stockholm Marathon has a bunch of turns. And, according to race organizers, the lead police motorcycles took the wrong turn around the 30km mark (about 18 miles). That meant that the three leaders, Felix Kirwa, Tesfaye Lencho Anbesa and Merhawi Kesete, were led off the course.
There is an explanation about what organizers say happen here on a Swedish news site (I used Google translate so some things may not be correct – so check it out yourself for their story).
News reports say that the mistake took them a total of an extra kilometer, which equals .6 of a mile. Unfortunately, this mistake by organizers/the police/or whomever cost the winner the course record. Amazingly, the leader (Felix Kirwa) and the 2nd place finisher were able to keep their lead and finish in 2:11:07 (the course record was 2:10:10) and the second place finisher (Merhawi Kesete) cross the line in 2:11:45. Unfortunately, the third man in the lead pack that was led astray, Tesfaye Lencho Anbesa, lost the third place slot to John Langat who was not led wrong. The difference was 2 minutes and 3 seconds between third place and fourth place.
This certainly reflects poorly on the Stockholm Marathon, no matter who made the actual mistake. Hopefully this never happens again. It is bad enough to happen at all but to cost a runner a course record, that is really bad. Fortunately, it didn’t cost him the race.