Belfast City Marathon: Course length mistake worst than first thought

The start of the 2019 Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon at the Stormont Estate, Belfast.''Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye
The start of the 2019 Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon at the Stormont Estate, Belfast.''Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye
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A race official’s mistake which lengthened the course of this year’s Belfast City Marathon was worse than originally stated, race organisers have said.

Confirming what a number of competitors already suspected, the 26.2 mile route had been inadvertently extended by 544 metres – not the 460 metres as declared soon afterwards.

In a statement yesterday, the management committee apologised for the confusion caused by this “unfortunate circumstance”.

A total of 18,000 runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes took part in the race that was initially said to be 0.3 of a mile (or 460 metres) too long after “human error” caused the lead car to divert from the expected route.

Serious runners have been informed that their adjusted times – to allow for the additional distance – will not be included in the Run Britain ranking points.

“Unfortunately Run Britain ‘Power of 10’ are unable to accept these adjusted times and will only accept the finisher times,” the statement said.

“We understand that Run Britain will be updating their records to reflect this. However, we are pleased that Virgin London Marathon have agreed to accept the adjusted times for ‘Good for Age’ qualification.”

The organisers added: “As such, the marathon times have been adjusted in accordance with each marathon runner’s average finisher time and these are available on our website www.belfastcitymarathon.com.

“Should there be any other races you are concerned about for qualification, please email us at info@belfastcitymarathon.org.”

The men’s race was won by Joel Kositany in a time of 2:18:40, while Caroline Jepchirchir ran the fastest ever women’s time in Belfast, crossing the line in 2:36:38.

Belfast PR consultant and media commentator Brendan Mulgrew has run the marathons in London, Berlin and Dublin as well as Belfast,

He spoke to the News Letter immediately following the race on May 5 and said he feared an excellent all-round event would be overshadowed by the mistake, but said some serious runners relying on an accurate finish time would be annoyed.

“Your Garmin [watch] measures the distance and my watch showed I ran 26.75 miles, which is half a mile extra,” he said.

“I have run marathons that [the Garmin] shows as 26.3, or 26.4, but not 26.75 – that’s a big discrepancy. So to the serious runner it’s a big deal but they’ve done what they can to rectify it.”

He added: “I think we are on the road to a really successful marathon event in Belfast that will really grow and grow, both in terms of participants and supporters.”