RaceGrader - Authentic Race Reviews - Swim, Bike, Run

Course Confusion Leads to a Surprise Winner in Half Marathon

Posted by: on February, 25 2015

Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Liam Boylan-Pett

After the top-three runners took a wrong turn in the Birmingham Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon, fourth-place runner picked up the win.

Right Way Wrong Way Signs on Pole

Peter Chebii was well on his way to a win at the Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon in Birmingham, Alabama, on Sunday. Then he took a wrong turn. So did the two runners in his pursuit.

It was some bad luck as the three runners were simply following the pace car that was leading them along the course. They were eventually alerted, but it was too late. David Marley, who had thought he was in fourth place, crossed the finish line first in 1:08:02.

“I thought there were three people in front of me,” Marley told WBRC of Birmingham following his win.

They were in front of him–they just didn’t run the right course toward the finish.

After sitting in the lead pack of three through the first 10K in 30:50, Chebii had a stranglehold on the race by 15K, leading by nine seconds over Mike Morgan and Luke Humphrey of the Brooks Hansons team. Marley was 49 seconds back of Chebii in fourth place.

Then, nearing the end of the race, Chebii followed the pace car. Morgan and Humphrey were close enough to see him, so they followed suit. Marley continued on the right path and went on to win in 1:08:02.

Chebii got back on course and finished second in 1:09:00, a photo finish ahead of Nathan Haskins who also ran 1:09:00.

Morgan finished fourth in 1:09:03 and Humphrey ended up fifth in 1:09:17.

The top three finishers earned prize money: $1,000, $750, and $500 as the top three finishers, respectively.

Valerie McLean, the vice chairman of the race, said she was surprised the top three went off course. “The course is very well marked,” she said, adding that the crowd was screaming at the runners but they kept on going.

The Hansons Runners were upset with the race, tweeting their displeasure:


Some races have technical meetings before the race so that a miscommunication like this doesn’t occur. The Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon does not. McLean said the race expects the athletes to do their homework prior to running the course.