Red-faced organizers of the Ottawa Marathon had to scramble to figure out who won the men's race on Sunday after a pack of elite runners accidentally took a shortcut.
Amos Tirop Matui of Kenya was the first to cross the finish line with a time of two hours, 10 minutes and 32 seconds, but the wild cheers that greeted him in what would have been a record time for the event soon turned to confusion.
Matui was part of a group of 14 runners who missed a turn in a narrow, twisting portion of the route, which shaved 400 metres off the course and more than a minute off their times.
A pack of runners spotted the errant group turning on to Sussex Drive from another road 100 metres ahead of them.
Marathon organizers said the confusion occurred when a group of high school students left their post at a barricade to talk to some friends at the next corner. While the volunteers were gone, a motorist moved the barricade.
Race director John Halvorsen said runners have a responsibility to learn the course, but stopped short of blaming them for the foul-up.
"Obviously, if the volunteers had been there and observed these guys come by, they probably would have redirected the runners," he said.
The 42-kilometre marathon was part of the Ottawa Race Weekend, which brings about 30,000 participants to the nation's capital every year.
Abderrahime Bouramdane of Morocco was declared the winner with a time of 2:12:17, with Zaid Laaroussi of Morocco coming in second with a time of 2:12:59.
Brad Poore of England, who originally finished 15th, came in third with a time of 2:24:28.
The 14 runners who veered off course were not outright disqualified. An asterisk marks their times as "non-ratified results" that cannot be used for statistics.
Race organizers financially compensated those who would have been awarded prizes. They refused to comment on how much was awarded to the runners.
Looking to avoid the nasty twist this year's event took, organizers said they plan to ask the city for a straighter course next year. They also plan to draw a solid blue line for runners to follow.