First leg: 9.7 miles (Jeanne)
Second leg: 7.3 miles (Z.)
Third leg: 9.2 miles (S.)
You will note, should you click through to say, the volunteers page, this:
* The Course closes at 4:30 pm (6 hours after the start time). *
Or say that you look at the FAQ, you will learn this:
Q. Is there an early start?and scrolling further down the page, you will see this:
A. Yes. If you expect to take over 6 hours, please consider joining the 9:30 group. Our volunteers cannot be asked to be out beyond that. An announcement to head for the start will be made at the registration table about 9:15. If you join this group, you will be out of contention for an overall or age-group award. (An exception may be made for men over 70 and women over 60.) There is no early start for the relay.
What you won't see anywhere, is any notice that the "COURSE WILL BE CLOSED TO ALL RUNNERS AT 2 P.M."
Q. Is there an "early start" for the marathon relay?
A. No. All relay runners must have their first runner start at 10:30 a.m. There has never been a relay team to take more than 6 hours.
Because? It doesn't say that.
This is a lovely marathon course, through open fields and woodlands out in Greenbelt, Md. It's a 3-loop course. The weather was perfect, in the 40s, blue skies, sun, if a bit windy.
There were some serious uphills, but then some lovely downhills too. Lucky for me, my two teammates were not interested in setting any records, and we anticipated a finish close to 6 hours.
I struggled through and finished 9.7 miles in 1:51
an 11:30/min mile. Not my best, but not my worst.
Z. did her 7.3 miles and finished up mile 17 around 2 p.m.
Then S. took off for her 9.2 miles. Z. and I headed for the car to drive to the finish, but before we got there S. came running back, yelling that "the course was closed!"
We had noticed that the race marshalls had taken down the time clock before Z. had even run in. Now they had told S. that the "course was closed." WTF?
S., after standing around for 4 hours waiting her turn, was a wee bit perturbed. And we were all confused. What the hell just happened? When S. was turned back so was some guy who had flown in from Wisconsin just to run this small marathon, which is a Boston qualifier. Can you imagine??
We finally located the race director, after some fruitless encounters with several race marshals, none of whom had heard anything about the course being closed. The RD also said that the course did NOT close at 2, that that info was just wrong, and was transmitted by ham radio operators to the race marshals, and that even had the course closed at 2, no runner would be stopped from running. Runners would just no longer be supported—but would never be told they could not run.
So, we were not happy campers.
The RD was understandably upset, and asked what he could do. I asked for only three things: an apology (since no one had said those magic soothing words), a refund, and not to be listed as DNF since it was their mistake.
I feel sorry for the RD. This is the 48th year of this race, so I feel bad that this happened on his watch. I feel bad for S. who stood around all morning pumping herself up to race, but I really feel sorry for that poor guy from Wisconsin.
Filed under "S*** happens."