One could hardly imagine the frustration of the leading group of runners in the Venice Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 22, when they were told to stop and turn around.
The race started per expectations: Six African runners, including Kenya’s Gilbert Kipleting Chumba and David Kiprono Metto, took the lead and maintained it for the first 16 miles of the 26.219-mile race.
But then came a tricky part. The runners were supposed to run through a pedestrian subway, while the guiding motorcade took another road and was to rejoin the runners later. For some reason, however, the runners followed the motorcade. After some 220 yards they were told to turn around and run back.
That was only possible thanks to a photographer who blocked traffic that had already started to come from behind the runners, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported.
By the time the runners got back on the right track, they had lost about two minutes. Four of them forfeited the race out of frustration, while Chumba and Metto attempted a comeback, finishing 4th and 5th respectively.
Italian Eyob Faniel won the gold with the time of 2 hours, 12 minutes, 16 seconds.
Faniel, 24, runs for the local Venice Marathon Club. This was only his second Marathon race, according to his results overview on the Italian Federation of Light Athletics website.
This was the first time an Italian won the race in 22 years, though the Eritrean-born Faniel only gained his citizenship in 2015.
Despite the striking irregularity of the race, Faniel seemed to enjoy his victory nonetheless.
“Thanks to all of you who have cheered for me and for so many messages!” he wrote on his Facebook profile. “For those who want to ruin this moment I just read blah blah blah blah.”