'Course Was Long,' Complains Marathoner Whose Own Serpentine Path Along Route Looks Like Something Out of 'Family Circus'



Loudly voicing her displeasure as she crossed the finish line, a competitor at Sunday's Mansfield Park Marathon declared the course "long."

"Come on!" said Elizabeth Bennet, 26, slowing to a walk and checking her smartwatch. "Twenty-six point seven?"

For Bennet, who finished in 4 hours 22 minutes 35 seconds, it was an unpleasant end to a race she'd spent dodging fellow runners; darting across the road to grab water, hug friends, and take selfies; swinging wide around the course's many turns; and, at one point, doubling back to retrieve a hat she'd dropped. 

A standard marathon is 26.219 miles long (42.195 kilometers). Race directors sometimes add a few feet per mile, applying the short course prevention factor "to ensure that the measured length of a course is at least as long as the desired length."

Sunday's course was, in fact, almost exactly 26.219 miles in length, run along its tangents, as certified by USA Track & Field.

"LONG!!!" Bennet wrote in a Facebook post in which she shared GPS data of her run, including a map that traced her path along the course. The map depicts a frenetic scribble in the first half-mile, apparently as Bennet weaved her way through a crowded field, followed over the remaining miles by a series of lazy arcs, meandering curves, and detours that call to mind the circuitous "dotted line" rambles undertaken by the distractible children in the classic comic strip Family Circus.

"I will never run this garbage race again. They can't even get the distance right!"

Bennet's route appears to show her deviating from the course to, among other things, take advantage of a swing set, greet a friendly dog, and check out a tree house.

After publishing her Facebook comments, Bennett returned her attention to those around her in the finish line area.

"I can't believe you ran us half a mile too long!" Bennet told a volunteer outside the medical tent. "I hope someone gets fired over this."