Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wrong cyclist sent runners off course

Runners in a Newcastle race went the wrong way after mistaking a passing cyclist for their course guide. About 530 athletes took part in the Heaton Harriers Memorial 10K but instead of following the lead bike, many followed a member of the public wearing a bright yellow top. Les Venmore from Heaton Harriers said the cyclist rode past "at the wrong time", leaving the runners in "a mess". He said the race was re-started and the problem was solved straightaway.

The race took place on the city's Town Moor at Exhibition Park. In a statement on its website the Heaton Harriers committee said the confusion occurred soon after the race had started, near the park's lake. "The cyclist was dressed in fluorescent clothing and as the leading group of runners ran closer to him they mistook him to be a race official and mistakenly followed him to the right instead of carrying straight on," it said.

Some participants, including the eventual winner Ian Hudspith, are thought to have continued on the correct course, only to find themselves behind runners they had been ahead of. Others ended up heading down narrow paths around the park. Mr Venmore said they had received only one complaint and the rest of the runners were "quite satisfied" with the decision to re-start the race, adding that it was not the first time runners had gone astray on a course.

He said it "wouldn't have looked particularly good" if the race had been won by someone who had never won before, just because half the field were running the wrong way. Club chairman George Routledge said most of the runners seemed to "take it all in good heart" with a "lot of laughing and joking".

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