Runners led astray again at the 2016 Santa Rosa Marathon

Santa Rosa Marathon logoSanta Rosa MarathonFor the third time in the past four years, the Aug. 28 Santa Rosa Marathon has been steeped in controversy.

This year, the 3:03 race pacer steered one of the lead packs off the course, and they ended up running an extra mile. Some of the runners were trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, since Santa Rosa is one of the last races before Boston opens up for entries in September. Running nearly 27 miles meant they missed a BQ.

One has to wonder how this happened. Race pacers should be familiar with the course, either having cycled or driven it beforehand.

It also was disconcerting this year when one of the 5K lead “bikes”—actually an Elliptigo rider—was asking a police officer on the course before the race where he was supposed to turn when he brought the runners through. Not a good sign when the lead bike, who should know the course, has to ask for directions.

One also has to wonder whether Santa Rosa had enough help at crucial intersections, since a race official admitted they weren’t able to get enough volunteers. And many of the volunteers were inattentive, instead texting on their smart phones, sitting down and not paying attention, or just not directing traffic at corners where runners were supposed to turn.

In addition to the runners being led astray, the 5K started 20 minutes late as race officials had to wait for 10K participants to move off the course. The 10K was new this year, and Santa Rosa may have taken on too much with four races.