Vancouver marathon April Fool's joke comes up short

Good for a laugh exept for being so close to reality

jock and jill

The organizers of the BMO Vancouver Marathon warned participants the 2017 race course would fall a few thousand meters short of the regulation 42.2-kilometre distance. The distance would be "rounded down."

The marathon would be shortened by more than two kilometres to 40km and the half-marathon cut down from a regulation 21.1km to a uniform 20km.

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The “news” was announced earlier this month on April 1.

Who’s the fool, you ask? Well, among the online enjoyment and yukyuks was a seriously critical tweet from North Vancouver trail running champion, Ellie Greenwood, whose successes have been covered in this paper.

Updated at 4:30pm: Read the response from the current race organizer

Greenwood won the women’s marathon in 2012, and that race was in the crosshairs of her criticism. The joke would land if it didn’t actually fall so close to the truth.

“Would be kind of funny,” Greenwood tweeted in reply to the marathon organizers, “except 2012, your course was actually long and folks missed PBs and BQs!”

(A “PB” is a personal best timed result over the distance, and a “BQ” is a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon, a marquee event in the running season.)

It’s true, and the Vancouver Marathon race director took accountability for the error in 2012 when he contacted the few finishers (also fastest racers) who were affected. According to Canadian Running magazine, the top 148 finishers ran a longer course.

That year marked the debut of two new, point-to-point courses for the full and half marathons. 

The mistake was discovered during the race; the course was adjusted but not before the fastest runners had crossed the finish line with times that would remain official. The lead runners may have run an extra 382 metres, according to reporting from the magazine's editor. The last in that group of 148 may have run an additional five metres. The race director apologized. The times stood.

The 2017 BMO Vancouver Marathon is May 7, 2017. There is, of course, the half-marathon as well as an 8km event and a relay as well as a kids’ race, which happens a day earlier on May 6.

Registration is open at

Twitter: @MHStewart

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