Officials of last Saturday's St. Jude Memphis Marathon were forced to disqualify the top-4 men when it was discovered that they accidentally cut the course, running 647 feet (197m) short. The athletes, Jynocel Basweti, Teklu Tefera Deneke, Richard Kessio and Edward Kimosop, were misdirected because of traffic cones which were left on the roadway from a companion event, the Memphis Grizzlies House 5-K.
"The St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend race committee expresses regret for this unfortunate matter and looks to continue providing an annual quality racing event that supports the lifesaving St. Jude mission of finding cures and saving children," said race director Wain Rubenstein through a media release.
Rubenstain reasoned that although it was the responsibility of all competitors to know the course, that it was the race committee which was primarily responsible for the athletes' error. As such, organizers decided to award prize money to the top-3 men as if they had run the full course: $5000 for Basweti, $3000 for Tefera and $2000 for Kessio. Basweti, who was timed in 2:16:21, was originally thought to have set a new course record, but that mark can no longer stand, and Kassahun Kabiso's 2005 winning mark of 2:16:48 will remain the record. Nonetheless, the race committee decided to award Basweti the $1000 course record bonus, anyway, as a good will gesture.
"The race committee's ruling is consistent with the USA Track and Field Rules of Competition," Rubenstein explained. "Additionally, we are evaluating our race operations and will take extra precautions in the months ahead in planning for next year's event."
The new race winner is Kipruto Rotich, a 29 year-old Kenyan living in Columbia, Mo., who clocked 2:24:46 and had crossed the finish line fourth. Another Kenyan, Hilary Kogo, was second (2:30:35) and Brian Baillie of Carbondale, Ill. was third. These three men will also receive top-3 prize money of $5000-3000-2000.
The error in the placement of the cones had no effect on the results of the women's race where Kenyan Salome Kosgei got an easy victory in 2:43:42.