The Manchester Marathon Association has ended its look into what led Manchester City Marathon runners Jason Ayr of Northampton, Mass., and Birhanu Tadesse of Washington, D.C., to take a wrong turn at mile 24 of the Nov. 2 race.
Monica Bardier, owner of PingPR, which represents the marathon, said in a statement that there was a volunteer and a 2-by-3-foot sign attached to a seven-foot pole in the middle of the path at mile 24 when Ayr and Tadesse took a wrong turn during the race.
With two miles to go, the two runners were leading the marathon by a wide margin and lost their way at mile 24 behind Northeast Delta Dental Stadium just after crossing the Hands Across America footbridge.
Bardier said that the lead runner has acknowledged that the volunteer at mile 24 told him to “turn around here,” and he did not recognize the volunteer was one at the time.
Ayr and Tadesse ended up on Sundial Avenue and hitched a ride to the finish area. Neither runner received credit for finishing the race.
According to race director Jayne Cornell, just after passing the footbridge at mile 24 of the marathon, runners are told to turn left and run to a sign telling them it is the turnaround point. Cornell told the Union Leader last Monday that the sign that she had secured on the pole before the race was still standing when eventual marathon winner Dan Vassallo of Peabody, Mass., reached the 24th mile and that volunteers were stationed at both the 23rd and 24th mile.
The seven members of the marathon board of directors voted unanimously last Tuesday to pay Ayr and Tadesse $1,250 each, which is the sum of the first-place prize of $1,500 and the second-place prize of $1,000 split evenly.
“We are not looking into it any further,” Bardier said.