The Oxford Half Marathon, sponsored by the Vitality Group, certainly didn’t quite go as planned for Run-Fast athlete Vincent Boit.
When he arrived at the start Vincent was feeling in great form and believed that he could run 61 on this flat and exceptionally historic city centre course, having run 62 in Chester which is a more challenging course . The weather was good, albeit a bit chilly at the start, with no wind and a rising and warming sun so his target of 61 looked very achievable. Sadly this was not to be.
After quite a fast start, cheered on by the thousands of spectators lining the start area, Vincent set off hard. By the first mile he had opened up a gap approaching 300 meters and the remainder of the pack could see that he was chasing a specially fast time. Vincent was visibly increasing his lead with every stride but unfortunately, before he approached even the second mile marker where his lead had already extended to 600 meters, things went totally awry.
For reasons currently unknown, whilst travelling along South Parks Road, the lead car with the timing clock pulled over and stopped by the side of the road. This left the three motorcycle outriders to take over the task of leading Vincent and the distantly following pack. Unfortunately the motorcycle group mistakenly turned left at the Park Street junction instead of turning right, with Vincent following closely. Not having run this course before Vincent was totally unaware that they were taking him on an incorrect loop that wound its way against the slower runners and back towards the start gantry.
At some point the motorcyclists realised their mistake and tried as best they could to lead him back onto the course where the backmarkers were passing. If Vincent had continued he would have been disqualified for going off course and so he had no option but to retire from the race; a very frustrated runner that hadn’t even got into his stride.
The organisers have promised to investigate the problem which appears to have been a straightforward human error, but nevertheless one which had denied Vincent a great win by a potentially large margin.