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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 20 October, 2018

When is a marathon not a marathon? When it's 380m short

24,000 runners who think they’ve run a marathon in Manchester are in for a bit of a shock.

Hopefully nobody's personal best came at the Greater Manchester Marathon.
Hopefully nobody's personal best came at the Greater Manchester Marathon.
Image: Rick Rycroft/AP/Press Association Images

WELL THIS IS awkward.

24,000 people who competed in the Greater Manchester Marathon in 2013, 2014 or 2015 are set to have their times wiped out after it was discovered the course was 380m short.

Marathon courses are typically measured using a bicycle with a special counter on the wheels.

However, the Association of UK Course Measurers (AUKCM) said yesterday that there had been an error in the calibration of the bicycle wheel in 2013 meaning the course came up short.

While the mistake was corrected before this year’s race on 10 April, it is believed that UK Athletics will now not recognise the times from the three previous races as the course failed to reach 26 miles — let alone 26.2 — meaning many runners will lose personal bests while the national and international rankings of professionals could also be affected.

The first signs that something might be amiss came as early as 2013 when GPS tracker data and satellite mapping services suggested the course could be up to 400m short.

Two more accurate bicycle measurements were taken in October of 2015 which showed the course was, in fact, 380m short.

A statement from the secretary of AUKCM, Phil Holland, read:

“(We) regret the error in measurement and the effect it has on runners’ times.

“Significant errors in measurement are rare — our procedures are designed to find them at the reporting or checking stages.”

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Steve O'Rourke

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