This Marathon WAS Too Long – And It Had a Bad Result

Written by Charlie

This marathon actually was too long in its most recent running, and it did have a bad result in the final standings. But, this is not common!

While many first-time marathoners may insist after the marathon that the course was too long, this actually does not really happen. If you are going to run a marathon, it is going to be 26.2 miles (42.195km). But, this marathon this last week actually WAS too long and that messed up the winner.

This Marathon Was Too Long

It never fails – as a marathon runner, it seems I hear at least once a week about someone running a “5k marathon” or asking “how long was the marathon you just ran?” These questions stem from the basic fact that many non-runners (and, surprisingly, many runners as well) do not actually know the real distance of the marathon. Some races do not help that by calling their event a “marathon” when there is actually not a real marathon distance offered.

A marathon is a set distance – 26.2 miles or 42.195km for our friends who count it in metric terms. There is no such thing as a 5K marathon. 🙂

But, there was a marathon this last week – the Brighton Marathon in England – that was longer than the actual distance. It was long by 568 meters. They put the blame at an errant cone marking that lengthened the course.

This equaled a little more than 1/3 of a mile added to the overall course. Since it was not a certified Boston Marathon qualifying course, that error did not affect any would-be Boston runners but there was another result that was not good from this. The leader of the marathon was Ollie Garrod and he lead for much of the race. However, with just 200 meters left to the finish line, Neil McClements passed him and finished first in 2 hours and 33 minutes.

Now, many of the top elite marathoners are running by feel and not looking at watches but for runners in that 2 1/2 hour range, there are still many that go by their watches. In this case, the actual leader and would-be winner, Ollie Garrod, likely could have been pushing the pace since he should have been able to expect that the finish was just ahead. This could explain the loss at the end – a loss which should never have been since he actually finished the actual marathon distance ahead of his competitor.

The marathon organizers have apologized and said they will be adjusting the results to be more appropriate for what the runners would have the actual race in.

Wait, Why Do New Marathon Runners Think Regular Races Are Too Long???

By the way, the reason marathon newbies think that their marathon course was too long is because the marathon distance is actually measured as the shortest distance between the points along the course. The elite runners run along these points, or tangents, the whole race but amateur runners will often not run the tangents. This explains why your GPS watch may say you ran 26.64 (or something like that) miles instead of just 26.2 miles. Also, GPS watches are not accurate down to the smallest amount either.

Bottom Line

At any rate 7,500 runners can now claim “ultra marathoner” status as an ultra marathon is any running event past the traditional marathon distance. While the normal, “shortest” distance that qualifies as an ultra is the 50K (31 miles), running 26.5 miles would still work also. 🙂

Hey, at least marathon organizers did not ask runners to pay more for the extra meters!

Featured image courtesy of the Brighton Marathon 

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.