Top four positions in the Tarpley 20 to stand despite quartet veering off course
PUBLISHED: 20:21 03 March 2019 | UPDATED: 20:21 03 March 2019
The positions of the leading four runners in the Tarpley 20-mile road race, held from Beyton, near Bury St Edmunds, last Sunday week, will stand despite the quartet being directed off course by the lead car.
Alex Manton, of Springfield Striders, went on to finish first in 1hr 48mins 46secs, which would have been a course record – as stated in last week’s race report.
However Manton, plus the next three runners – Robert Reason (1:50:37), Tony Gavin (1:51:33) and Ian Allen (1:53:01) – all ended up covering just 18.7 miles of the official course, rather than the full 20 miles, due to the short-cut.
The first runner to complete the full 20 miles was the fifth-placed Peter Harvey, of Wymondham AC, who clocked 2:03:43.
The results have been allowed to stand – the leading four runners were well clear of the field – although obviously Manton’s time will not be recognised as a course record.
That landmark of 1:49:22, set by David Hudson on his way to victory last years, remains.
Race referee, Paul Felton, explained: “I was in the passenger seat in the lead car and I said ‘straight on,’ as did the marshall, and that was what the sign also indicated.
“However the driver decided to turn right here, up Gedding Hill, which is between 12 and 13 miles, and by that time the first four runners had caught us up.
“There was no chance of us being able to turn around, so we had to carry on.
“The first four were so far ahead of the pack that the fifth-placed runner, and everyone else, was able to run straight on and stay on course, but the four runners did what they should have done and followed the lead car, even though we had gone wrong.
“In my position as referee, I spoke to all the four leading runners after the race and apologised for the error. They were all happy to accept the apology, putting the incident down to human error.
“I then spoke to the fifth-placed runner (Peter Harvey) and asked him if the four ahead of him had covered the full course, then would he have had a chance of catching them? He told me that he ‘did not have a cat in hell’s chance.’
“He said that he was also pulling away from the runners behind him, so it was all agreed that the results should stand, although the times of the first four runners were not supposed to be published.
“It was all agreed very amicably,” added Felton.
Meanwhile, Stephen Williams, chairman of race organisers Saint Edmund Pacers, explained: “The first four runners ran 1.3 miles short of the 20.
“The lead car took the leaders the wrong way, turning up Gedding Hill after the 12-mile mark, before rejoining the course.
“The course was well marshalled and well sign-posted, but the driver of the lead car got a little confused.
“It was the fifth-placed runner who was the first to run the full circuit.
“But it was agreed by everybody at the finish, after discussions, that the results would stand because the top four were well clear. Everyone was happy for the results to be accepted.
“It was all sorted out amicably on the day,” added Williams.