Raleigh Marathon Goes Off-Course Again

(Monday December 3, 9:30 AM ET)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Top runners at the Raleigh Marathon who didn't feel they went the distance were absolutely right. A Raleigh police officer improperly routed the quickest runners along a path that shaved about 2 miles off the race Sunday. That means any of the top 100 runners who wanted to use their time to qualify for next spring's Boston Marathon probably can't.

``These guys paid a lot of attention to details, but they missed a big part of setting the race up,'' said winner Scott Wolfe of Brevard, who like other leaders raced only about 25 miles. About three miles into the race, a police officer directed the lead runners to follow some erroneously positioned cones and turn right prematurely, cutting 2 miles off the course. When the mistake was discovered, the runners were sent in a circle around a downtown parking lot, but that made up less than a mile.

Although some competitors ran 25 miles and others the full 26.2 for a marathon, the results were posted in the order the runners finished. Wolfe was declared the winner after going across the finish line in 2 hours, 29 minutes, 23 seconds.

Race Director Butch Robertson said he wanted to talk Monday to Boston Marathon officials about working out something for the runners who were trying to qualify.

It was the second problem in as many years with the marathon, which had to be delayed by a week last year due to an approaching snowstorm that never came. When the race was finally run, a police car took a wrong turn and 25 runners followed him, but they only veered off course for a couple of blocks.

``It's one of those things that every runner and race director dreads,'' Robertson said. Heather Kempinger of Raleigh was for the second year in a row the top finisher among women. She clocked in at 2:46:52, although she also ran the shorter distance.

The 2001 Raleigh Marathon drew about 2,500 runners. Local Buffalo, NY area runners competing in this event included Buffalo's Stephen David Wald, 41, who ran 4:23:12 and the venerable mega-marathoner Norm Frank, 70, of Rochester who clocked 5:48.

Raleigh marathon Web Site

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