Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fastest Runner Does Not Win- San Francisco Marathon Organizers Blew It

While (Arien) O'Connell had the greatest run of her life and covered the course faster than any woman, she was told she couldn't be declared the winner because she didn't run with the "elite" group who were given a 20-minute head start.

At the awards ceremony, the O'Connell clan looked on as the top times were announced and the "elite" female runners stepped forward to accept their trophies.

"They called out the third-place time and I thought, 'I was faster than that,' " she said. "Then they called out the second-place time and I was faster than that. And then they called out the first-place time (3:06), and I said, 'Heck, I'm faster than her first-place time, too.' "

"The theory is that, because they had separate starts, they weren't in the same race," Estes said. "The woman who is winning the elite field doesn't have the opportunity to know she was racing someone else." (Jim Estes is associate director of USA Track & Field Long Distance Running). The Chicago Marathon had a similar problem when Wesley Korir ran the 4th fastest time but was not awarded the 4th place prize money ($15,000) because he wasn't in the elite field. Chicago Tribune

Difficult situation for the race director to fix after awards have already been presented, but I would have corrected the official results and had a duplicate trophy made up to present the real winner. In Chicago, how does a Kenyan capable of a top 4 finish NOT get into the elite field?

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