Wrong turn jeopardizes Raleigh Marathon runners' Boston qualifying times

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 Sunday improperly routed the quickest runners along a path that shaved about a mile off the race. That means any of the top 100 runners who wanted to use their time to qualify for next spring's Boston Marathon likely can't.

"These guys paid a lot of attention to details, but they missed a big part of setting the race up," said race 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 a good 2 miles off the course.

When the mistake was discovered, the runners were sent in a circle around a parking lot in downtown, but that made up less than a mile.

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

Otherwise, Sunday's marathon went on without a hitch, which drew 2,500 runners for races of various lengths and at least as many spectators.

Heather Kempinger of Raleigh was the top woman finisher at 2:46:52, defended her performance from last year, although she also ran the shorter distance.

Kempinger, who ran a marathon in Richmond, Va., three weeks ago, still decided to run in her hometown.

"I have to support Raleigh," she said. "I couldn't let an out-of-towner win."

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