Since I ran my first cross country race back in 1967, I've entered and run well over 1,000 races. Of those, I have gotten lost at least 2 dozen times, maybe more.
Well it happened again at the annual University of Wisconsin Stevens Point Alumni Cross Country race. Sometime after the 3-mile mark (which I hit in 17:55) with the main pack out of sight, I followed the guy in front of me, who for some reason veered off down the wrong loop (I think perhaps he followed a runner who was already cooling down).
Knowing that I would be well back of the leaders, I didn't bother studying the course map thoroughly enough. You would think I would know better.
Back in 1971, I attempted my first marathon in Whitewater, Wisconsin, which turned into complete chaos. I was in 18th or so after 10 miles but by 20 I was suddenly running in 4th. A pack of 15 or so went the wrong way. Hitting mile 25 in 2 hrs 51 minutes, I was on pace to easily break 3 hours until I followed an arrow sign the wrong direction. After several minutes, I figured everything out and finally got in at 3 hr 05 min. That was a painful mistake for me, but not nearly as painful as the 15 guys who got lost and ended up running an extra 4 or 5 miles.