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Wednesday, May 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Misplaced barriers cause Coeur d’Alene Marathon runners to run wrong course

A mishap with course barriers at the Coeur d’Alene Marathon on Sunday caused some runners to race along the wrong route. Organizers canceled award ceremonies for some events as a result.

One runner, Marcie Warren, looked down at her Garmin GPS wristwatch and saw she had run the entire 10K distance of her race, but looking around, she was in the middle of the course. No finish line was in sight.

She kept running, but about a half-mile later, she looked at the other runners and decided that there was a mistake, so as a group they turned around and headed back.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘This isn’t right,’ ” she said.

Race director Ryan Hite said some of the barriers were shifted, and he’s not sure exactly what happened, although he doubts it was purposeful.

“I’ve got to believe it was an accident,” he said.

Hite owns a running event company called Negative Split that was contracted to organize the marathon that was founded by North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation. This year is the first that Negative Split has hosted the Coeur d’Alene Marathon.

He said 200 people ran the 5K and 310 people ran the 10K. He’s not sure how many people were steered off course, but Hite said workers realized the mistake and scrambled to get everyone turned around. Sunday’s event included four runs: a marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K – all starting from McEuen Park and with different routes and overlapping points.

“As race director, when you hear that the race is starting to go sideways, it’s one of your worst nightmares,” Hite said.

Warren said she was running to place in the top three spots for the 10K run in her age group. But because organizers didn’t know the times and distances of the people who ran the wrong way, the awards were withheld.

Although frustrated, Warren, 51, said she has no hard feelings.

“I really do like Negative Split and I’m a huge supporter of them,” she said. “It was still a nice day for a run.”

Hite wrote an apology on Facebook on Sunday. Almost all comments expressed forgiveness and gratitude to Negative Split.

“I thought the mishap was handled very professionally and to the utmost of their abilities,” Lonny Zuniga wrote.

Hite said runners in the 5K and 10K races are being compensated with VIP passes and a discount to next year’s Coeur d’Alene Marathon.

Unlike the Bloomsday race that has seen a falloff of participants in recent years, the Coeur d’Alene Marathon has grown, Hite said, and 400 more runners participated this year than in 2018. The event this year was capped out, he said.

Hite said next year Negative Split will have more staff, better marking for the run and other safeguards to prevent the same mistake.

“We learned some things,” he said.

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