Hoo boy, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon and Half Marathon, and parent company Competitor Group, Inc., are having a hard time getting things right. Not only were they ambiguous about the fact that CGI would not be donating money to their charity partner The V Foundation, as promotional material suggested, but they failed to put a course marshal at a critical turn in the Raleigh marathon course and provided the lead woman with two bike escorts who did not know the course.
Thus Heidi Bretscher, the women’s leader of the April 10th marathon at 18 miles, took a wrong turn, went three miles off course, dutifully escorted by the two bikers who did not know how to get back to the correct course, blathered around for 30 minutes (!), got a ride from police officers, first back to 18 miles and then up to 22-1/2, and miraculously, still won the women’s division in 3:06.59. In other words, bungled with a capital B.
This sort of snafu might be forgivable if the organizers were volunteer amateurs, as many small races are. Nonprofit organizations, who are actually in the business of raising money for a cause, sometimes put on a marathon as a means of doing that. Sometimes their races are a little bumpy. But the Rock ‘n’ Roll series, owned by for-profit Competitor Group, exists for the sole purpose of staging a fully professional, prepackaged, USATF-certified, come-into-your-town-and-boom marathon. As such, course marshals and knowledgeable lead runner escorts should be a given.
As Letsrun.com commenters noted, according to USATF rules, Bretscher should have been disqualified because she did not run three miles of the course, between 18-1/2 and 22-1/2, where the second police officer dropped her back on the course. But realizing the wrong turn and resultant squad car hopping was their mistake, organizers not only awarded Bretscher the $500 first prize, they offered to pay her entry, travel and lodging to the future marathon of her choosing, Rock ‘n’ Roll product or not.
Competitor Group’s director of public relations, Dan Cruz, tweeted that the incident was “pretty embarrassing for us.”
photo credit: Flickr