Over a dozen of the fastest runners in the Portland Marathon went home disappointed Sunday after taking a wrong turn at an unmarked fork in the route, adding 10 or more minutes to their final time. OPB first reported the mistake.
Jared Rohatinsky, CEO of Brooksee, the company that organized the race, says the mishap was due to the fastest runner, who was led by a police escort, being too far ahead of the pack for others to follow and a lag in getting appropriate signs in place to direct runners in the correct direction.
Rohatinsky says the sign was put up in minutes after organizers learned of the mistake and that roughly 15 out of the race's 6,000 runners were affected.
He tells WW that Brooksee immediately refunded all affected racers and provided them free entry to any future Brooksee race. He says he's proud of the event the company threw as a first-time organizer, despite the blunder.
"Obviously [the affected racers] are upset and frustrated, as a marathoner myself I would be too," Rohatinsky says. "These folks are responding better than I would have had I been in their shoes. It just goes to show the caliber of runner that is part of the Portland running community."
One of those racers who took a wrong turn? Zach Custer, a 33 senior director at Gizmodo Media. He says he trained for four months for the race and hoped his time would qualify him for the Berlin Marathon.
He says he and others mistakenly ran south on Southwest Barbur Boulevard rather than turning at the Ross Island Bridge to make their way to Macadam Avenue because there were no signs set up.
"We were off course for 4-5 miles," he says, "and that added nearly 2 extra miles to our marathon."
He says he had to finish the race in 2 hours and 45 minutes or under to qualify for the Berlin Marathon, and because of the detour, that didn't happen.
"I would have run a 2:42 yesterday had this not happened," he says. "Instead I ran a 2:54, which included, obviously, those two extra miles, plus confusion and regrouping with everyone else that went off course."
"Bummer all around," he continues, "but hey, I crushed a 28-mile run yesterday."