Race errors lead to Maine Marathon course record, three disqualifications

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Abby Hamilton believed she narrowly missed setting a course record by winning the Maine Marathon.

Jarrod Ottman believed he had achieved a personal best by winning the half marathon.

Three days after the 30th edition of the Maine Marathon, Half Marathon & Marathon Relay, Hamilton and Ottman learned they were wrong.

A typo on the website led organizers to believe Hamilton narrowly missed the record, but in fact set a course record and won a $ 500 bonus after the Yarmouth native, aged the 22-year-old took victory on his marathon debut in 2 hours, 39 minutes, 38 seconds.

“Wow, I can’t believe it,” Hamilton said Wednesday morning upon hearing the news. “I had no idea.”

Emily LeVan’s previous record set in 2004 was 2:39:54 but mistakenly listed on the event’s website as 2:39:34, leading organizers to believe Hamilton missed the mark of just a few seconds.

A recent Bates College graduate who had never run faster than 6:30 miles in training, Hamilton said her goal was to break three hours. Instead, she ran at a 6:06 pace but was unaware of it as she disdained to look at her watch during the race.

“When I saw the time, I really couldn’t believe it at the end,” she said. “I was so happy and grateful for the experience and for the race directors and volunteers and everyone who came out to cheer in the rain. It was just an incredibly special day for me. I couldn’t have asked for more.

An editor of New England Runner magazine spotted the typo in LeVan’s record time and alerted race organizers on Tuesday. Hamilton said the extra money, in addition to the $ 1,000 she earned for first place, would be used to pay off student loans.

She is currently enrolled in three online courses prior to PA training and missed a clarification email Wednesday morning because she was immersed in a microbiology test. Hamilton said she spent time in four different groups of runners on Sunday and learned from their advice along the way.

As the leading marathoner, she also generated a lot of applause and excitement among the runners who still headed north along Route 88 after making the turn at Yarmouth and heading towards Portland.

“Everyone was cheering so loud and it meant so much to me,” she said. “Everyone made it such a special day and it will always be a fond memory for me. “

This is not the case for Ottman, a native of Merrimack, New Hampshire, who spent four years at Thomas College in Waterville. The 23-year-old apparently won the half-marathon by more than a minute in 1:06:31, but learned on Wednesday morning that a bicycle racing volunteer mistakenly moved a barrier inside Payson Park and drove the race car and Ottman to take the right fork out of the park instead of the left, before turning right onto Baxter Boulevard.

A later volunteer realized what had happened and restored the barrier, but not before two more half-marathoners followed Ottman to the right, cutting about a tenth of a mile from the certified 13.1 mile course. This led to the race organizers disqualifying the top three: Ottman, Nick Matteucci of St. Louis and Jonathan Briskman of Northampton, Massachusetts.

“It’s ridiculous,” Ottman said by telephone Wednesday. “Seems like the people who were on the bikes clearly needed more information on what is what, as well as the pace car. It’s disappointing because it was my best race this season.

Race director Bob Dunfey said the three disqualified runners will keep their prize ($ 500- $ 400- $ 300) and runners in fourth through eighth place will receive a prize based on their improved ranking.

“We wanted to be consistent with USATF guidelines and rules,” Dunfey said. “We think this is the best result as we feel at fault.”

That makes Nicholas Denari, 28, of Portland, the official winner of the half marathon, with a time of 1:11:34. On Sunday, he crossed the finish line more than two minutes behind Briskman.

Dunfey said he spoke with the volunteer driving the race car but did not make contact with the lead cyclist, who Dunfey said should have stayed behind Ottman or at least next to him.

“The cyclist shouldn’t move any barricades,” Dunfey said. “They should follow the lead runners. I think the front runners were just as confused as the driver of the (car displaying the race timer).

Due to coronavirus restrictions, the race had not been held in person since October 2019. Participants in Sunday’s event had to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for COVID-19 and wear a mask beforehand. to enter the course.

Even with the new policy requirements, Dunfey said entries for this year’s race were within 300 of the 3,840 registered for the 2019 race. A virtual component this year attracted 223 runners, who have up to Monday to cover the chosen distance.

The humid weather and the more infectious delta variant of COVID-19 likely contributed to a 20% increase in no-shows, compared to a normal year of around 15%, Dunfey said.

Ottman has expressed doubts about returning to Portland for the race next year. Hamilton is already planning it, as well as an attempt in Boston next April.

“I’m going to try to do two marathons a year,” she said. “I am excited for my next one.”

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