You may have seen that on Tuesday the Association of UK Course Measurers announced that the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Greater Manchester Marathon course had been confirmed as 380m short. This story has since been picked up by the BBC, Athletics Weekly, ITV and various other outlets after the race organisers issued a press release yesterday (22nd April 2016).
For context, there are currently 5 other courses with measurement investigations logged. However, the only other Marathon (Hull 2012) was found to be short due to the organisers not taking the agreed and certified route and as a result it had its certification revoked.
I ran the race last year as part of the ASICS & Athletics Weekly ambassador programme and my time of 3:00:01 that year would probably have been more like 3:02:00 if the distance had been correct. I know of at least two friends from that race whose PBs have now been removed from UKA listings and whilst I'm lucky enough to have reinforced my time this year, there's still a part of me that's sad to see it disappear or be marked short.
I am also aware that this year's GMM was far from perfect, so much so that there have already been post-race press releases and offers of discounts to runners for next year. However, I do feel for XtraMile and the race organisers. As far as I can see from all the information available, this was not their fault. They worked with the recognised certified body and kept them updated of all changes to the route. They fulfilled their obligations and yet now they have hoard of angry runners at their door. The statement suggests that the wheel used to measure the course in 2013 was mis-calibrated. I'd be interested to know what checks were in place and if the same wheel was used to measure other courses. Yes, perhaps if lots of people were querying the distance in 2013 they should have pushed for a re-measure but I don't know if that was the case. My GPS suggested the course was short last year, but they are never that reliable so I didn't mention it (and I liked my time...sort of!). Athletics has plenty of corruption to deal with at the moment and it's a shame that this race has been spoiled for so many people but I can't help wondering if those who care so much about the sport should be using their enthusiasm to push for more rigorous checks in other areas.
Having said all that, my start position for Sunday's Virgin Money London Marathon was gained using that now-defunct time. I'm not sure how I'd feel if I hadn't matched it since. Would I be able to hold my head high as I joined all the runners who has correct times? Should I have offered to change pens if that was the situation? Would it have been as bad as taking a bib at Boston when you haven't BQ'd? I'm not sure and I'm glad I don't have to answer that question.