On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just finish the distance.

On Sunday morning, I ran one of my most painful 20m runs ever with the most fun and delightful running club ever. As I was limping back to my apartment, I was chatting on the phone with a friend who had done a halfathon that morning. He was telling me an anecdote, and it went something like this...

The race was a full marathon and a half marathon on the same day. Pretty standard. There was an obvious and well-marked turn off around the 10 mile mark where the two groups separated before the full course added on 13m (so that the last 3m of both courses was the same). So, mile 11 of the half was also mile 24 of the full.

Let's say you were racing the full. Even if you missed the signs and somehow ended up accidentally taking the turn for the half, there's pretty much no way you wouldn't have realized that mile 24 is not the next number after mile 10 - mile 11 does not feel like mile 24.

...which is why it was so odd at the finish when my friend overheard a man yelling at the food table volunteer. "I didn't know about the turn! I never saw any signs! I was running the full, and all of a sudden they gave me a medal for finishing the half! I need to finish a full. Someone needs to take me to a high school with a track, or somewhere, so that I can finish the full." Later he saw this same guy at the finish, yelling that he needed a race official to make this right for him.

Dude: if you were with it? You would have realized early on that you were no longer on the full marathon course.

Here's another example of a similar-but-different thing. Basically, long story short (and you can read the long story here if you're curious), a slowtwitch forum who was at Kona (Ironman) began talking to a participant who obviously from his times must have cut the marathon course. Upon questioning him, he maintained that he'd finished legitimately even though it was clear that he hadn't.

Well, five pages into the thread (fifth post down), who should appear but the cheater himself. He owns it: yes, he cut the course. In pain, he decided to DNF - but then he got caught up in the momentum and crossed the finish line. He was afraid of disappointing his excited family and friends. He's returning the medal and shirt, and he won't go back to Kona even if he qualifies again in the future. Oh, yeah, and he's 22.

Is it cheating? Or is it a dumb-ass kid who made a mistake? Maybe both. The commenters are hilarious, though, including suggesting banning him for life or for at least 10 years (bearing in mind that the Tour de France banned Floyd Landis for two years for doping).


  1. Too funny! And seriously -- you're right. Who doesn't notice the mile markers? I notice EVERY ONE OF THEM and know exactly how many miles I have left to go. *eye roll*

    Did you hear the one about the guy who took a bus for 6 miles of the Kielder Half? And then took a MEDAL for third place? Loser! At least he was caught in the act. :)

  2. Yes!! I heard about the new Mr. Rosie Ruiz. I mean - seriously? Thinking you won't get caught? Dumbass. Unless on some level he likes the media attention, in which case we're all playing into it!

  3. When I ran Philly the first 13 miles were with the Half Marathoners. Then they split off to run the .1 and finish. Not only were there uniformed men SCREAMING at the marathoner to go left, there were signs up that said "TAKE OUT YOUR HEADPHONES. RACE INSTRUCTIONS AHEAD" Also, knowing that the course split, I made sure the pay some attention to where the hell I was going.

  4. Dude sounds like he was more pissed off because he knew he was an idiot asshole. People never cease to amaze me with their stupidity.


  5. Wow, the first guy just sounds like an ass. The second guy, I dunno. What he did was totally wrong, but banning a 22 year old for 10 years-life? That seems a little harsh. Although, I bet they'd make him wear a GPS tracker if he did Kona again.