Arien O’Connell, robbed of a win in the SF Women's Marathon last weekend, has today been declared co-winner of the race. For those not following the drama, she did not start with the elite group, which had a 20 minute head start over the rest of the field to avoid congestion. But she took twelve minutes off her best time to run 2:55:11, eleven minutes faster than the official first place getter, Madeline Kramer.
The official explanation was that since the elite runners were not aware of this blazing dark horse, they could not adjust their strategy. Fair enough, I guess, but I seriously doubt anyone could magically shave eleven minutes from a marathon time at will.
We must take it at face value that elite runners who are aware of what time they might run will start with the elite group. In any case, Nike (the sponsor of this and many other women's marathons) intends to do away with the head start. And that's good news too.
And two more good reasons to support this decision: Arien O’Connell is from Brooklyn, and is a graduate of Columbia University.