Belfast City Marathon course too long, organisers admit

Officials estimated that runners had to run an extra 460 metres due to ‘human error’

The organisers of the Belfast City Marathon have had to admit to runners and wheelchair athletes that the course they completed on Sunday was almost half a kilometre too long.

“We would like to apologise to competitors of today’s race,” said David Seaton, chairman of the marathon organising committee.

“Approximately 460 additional metres were added to the officially measured course of 26.2 miles (42.195km). This was due to human error, with the lead car diverting from the official route.”

On social media, some runners were questioning whether the official figure was correct. David Hendron tweeted:

The majority of Garmins were logging 26.7 miles. Be worth driving the course to confirm this. 460m isn't enough.
Otherwise a cracking day. Thanks for organising

— David Hendron (@deeboyh) May 5, 2019

Seaton was keen to let runners know that the mistake was a one-off.

“I can assure all participants that protocols will be put in place to ensure this never happens again. In the meantime, we are the process of adjusting runners’ times to reflect the correct distance,” he said.

The race, which was won by Kenyans Joel Kositany and Caroline Jepchirchir, was being staged for the 38th time, but Sunday’s course was a new configuration. Organisers had hoped the change would lead to quicker times for runners.

Seaton acknowledged that competitors who had recorded times close to their personal bests or “landmark” times such as three-hour marathons would be aggravated by the situation.

“I can understand if you have been aiming for a sub three-hour marathon time and because of the mistake you have ended up being just outside three hours on the clock, that you are going to be annoyed.”

At least the runners will have a time that they can claim for the race. For three years between 2013 and 2015, the Manchester marathon course was found to be 380 metres too short, which meant that 24,000 runners had their times declared invalid by UK Athletics.


Seth Jacobson

The GuardianTramp

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