Cork City marathon blunder to be reviewed after 200 competitors took wrong route

Organisers of the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon have apologised and ordered a review of their half-marathon arrangements, because 200 competitors took the wrong route. This added half a mile to the race.

Cork City Council said the review will examine the starting arrangements, the route, and all of the stewarding, barrier, and lead-vehicle arrangements.

Some 10,000 people competed in the council-organised marathon, which was staged in partnership with Athletics Ireland and Cork Business Houses Athletics Association (BHAA), on bank holiday Monday.

But there was an error in the half-marathon, when an international wheelchair athlete went off course a few yards from the start line, on Victoria Road.

On-foot stewards pursued him in vain, so two motorbike stewards set off to redirect him. The half-marathon competitors mistakenly followed the motorbike stewards onto Albert Road, the wrong course.

Controllers at race headquarters quickly rerouted the runners along a narrow street, through Hibernian Buildings, passed Shalom Park, and right onto the N27, and north towards Albert Quay, before they did a U-turn to rejoin the correct half-marathon course, down Monahan Road.

Dozens of the competitors affected by the error vented their fury online. One described the reroute as a sightseeing tour of the city, another said it was “a shambles”, and another branded it “carnage”.

Others described the starting point as awkward and said it was unsafe that the half-marathoners were diverted into the flow of the full marathon, and against traffic.

“On behalf of the Cork City Marathon team, I would like to sincerely apologise to the half-marathon runners, who were affected by an incident at the beginning of the half-marathon,” race director, Jim O’Donovan, of Cork City Council, said yesterday.

“They were quickly rerouted onto an alternate course, but, naturally, this caused confusion for those familiar with the route, and also added additional time to the runners’ finishing times. We are carrying out a full review of the half-marathon start and course, including stewarding, barriers, and lead vehicles. We will do our utmost to ensure that this will not happen again at Cork City Marathon.”

He said that lessons would be learned. “We organise the event with race experts from Athletics Ireland and the BHAA and we will certainly be taking advice from them to improve signage and barriers to ensure this can’t happen again,” he said.

But he ruled out refunds of the €53 entry fee. The event is not-for-profit and the fee covers the purchase of race T-shirts, medals, water, barriers, and security.


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