Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Am I a massive cheat?

I cut a 5 mile loop off a half marathon and I won. So does this make me a cheat and should I be disqualified?
Sheepishly picking up first place - trainers on in case I need to leggit

The story's a bit more complex than that and hopefully some of you will see my side and agree that I should have no shame in claiming the win, especially given how much of a rarity a win is. I was running in the inaugural New Forest Half Marathon in March and after a switch back half a mile in, it was clear that there were only two of us competing for first place and 5 miles in Gordon and I were running together and having a natter.

On the same day there was a 10k, a 20 miler and an ultra all converging at different points  of the course and when we approached one marshal, who seemed surprised to see us, we shouted 'this way?' as we turned right at the junction, running past her to no real response. A mile later and we started passing ultra marathon runners coming towards us and after nine miles we realised something wasn't right - the first lap was only 8 miles and we were nowhere near the finish. We asked a passing car where Linwood was and headed back to the event base, figuring we'd have probably run 11 miles by the time we made it back. As far ahead as we had been of the third placed runner, we were never going to catch up 3 miles, so we had a decision to make.

We were both fairly relaxed about the mistake, but I wanted the win and explained to Gordon that I was going to go for the win if I could and I'd welcome his challenge. He declined, I think partly because I'd talked him into thinking I'd burn him off in the last half a mile, but also because he just wasn't that bothered, so I ran on, hit the beginning/end of the lap, turned round and ran back the wrong way around the course. The marshals were looked confused, but I smiled at them reassuringly, as if I knew what I was doing and a mile later, turned round again and ran in for the win having run 13.1 miles according to my Garmin. Gordon continued with the second loop and noted the time as he ran through 13.1 miles, running in far down the field, having run a full 16.

Turning into the finish

The second placed runner was really confused, he had no idea that we'd gone wrong and couldn't figure out how he'd passed Gordon without noticing. I was staying quiet, acting a little bit sheepish about the whole affair, until Gordon came in and explained the whole situation and claimed 2nd place. David, was bumped to third, possibly a bit harsh, but his time was four minutes slower than Gordon's.

So did I cheat or was I just pragmatic about an unfortunate situation? Let me know what you think.

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