Melbourne Marathon “5km” – a day later

Well, I obviously wasn’t the only one upset with the Melbourne Marathon organisers as there was quite a lot of complaint activity going around the internet last night. Amazingly, this blog was actually quoted in The Age in relation to this topic, in this article “Fun runners vent fury over ‘short courses'”.

I’d like to respond to some of event director Dallas O’Brien’s responses (in blue below) in that article.

“… the half and full marathons met the strict standards of the Association of International Marathons, but the 5km and 10km courses were not measured to the same exacting standards.”
Even if the race is not measured to those high standards, surely we should be able to expect a race that is somewhere close to the advertised distance.

‘‘We measured it as closely as we could under the constraints of the road closures that we had from the various authorities and police’’
Surely, if you knew the race was short, there were ample opportunities along the course to put in another small loop to make up the distance. Don’t blame the authorities for your mistake.

‘‘We apologise to anyone who may have been inconvenienced, and perhaps we should have highlighted the fact that they weren’t 100 per cent accurate.’’
Yes, you should have highlighted the fact, especially with the 5km race which was only 4km in distance, why not advertise it as such? If you knew beforehand, why not publicise the fact. People would then have the opportunity to race it appropriately. Even if it was just at the race brieifing, I know I would have run a different race if I knew I only had 4/5 of the distance to cover.”

Mr O’Brien rejected suggestions the distances were short by as much as 20 per cent.
I stand by my claim that the course distance for the “5km” was extremely close to 4km. Multiple people I spoke to on the day had measured the run within 0.05 kilometers of 4km. When I was at school that certainly equates to being 20% short. In the email I sent the organisers last night (to which no response has been received to date) I challenged them to publish the official course distance.

‘‘The five and 10 were both measured by a bike computer. We got them as close as we could.’’
Was the bike computer calibrated, or at least checked against a known route? If that is as close as you could, then hang your head in shame.

Personally I will not run the short distances at this event again. I will stick to organisers like Start To Finish and Sri Chinmoy who have shown that they can do this reliably, or at least when course changes dictate a change in distance will tell competitors this before they run (this occurred at a Spring Into Shape race one year).

To add to their woes there was also a lot of activity on CoolRunning today with people questioning the event timing as well. I know that mine looked a bit dodgy too. The difference between my gun time and net time looked to accurately reflect the amount of time it took me to cross the finish line, but my net time was some 26 seconds more than I recorded on my watch. I know that I pressed start/stop within a second or so of crossing both the start/finish mats, and usually I am within a few seconds of official times at most events I run.

Anyway, taking a positive from the race, I did finish in the top 8% of male runners and the top 4% overall. Not bad for an old fella.

A slow run with Deb this morning, around our usual 8km loop, just over 6 min/km pace with Deb recovering from her half marathon yesterday.


9 Responses to “Melbourne Marathon “5km” – a day later”

  1. Andrew Says:

    If they got the timing wrong for the short distances it makes you wonder about the longer ones too.

  2. Damien Says:


    glad you made some noise about this. Surely there could be a trades practices act dispute here given the race was nowhere near ‘as advertised’ and the fact that they sold places in the race.

    just a thought from another pissed off runner.


  3. Lee Says:

    Heehee Andrew, you are famous!!

    It has been a total debarkle hasn’t it? Even though it was all about the social side for me I will never run 5km at MM again!

    It was great to see you again 🙂

  4. Kathy Says:

    Hey, I know someone famous! I’m used to seeing you guys quoted in “Runner’s World” but now “The Age”. LOL.

    Glad to hear your knee is holding up well. You really seem to be getting back into your running. I thought we’d lost you to cycling there for a while.

    Congrats to Deb.

  5. Em Says:

    Congrats, you are famous!!

    Dallas’s excuses are lame and pathetic, seriously! If they can’t put on a 10km, then measure out a 9km course and put on a 9km for pete’s sake, at least people know what they are getting!

    The general consensus seems to be that the 5km was definitely closer to 4km so he is talking a load of bollocks!

    It’s especially insulting when people paid an over inflated fee to enter too, I will take a $25 Sri Chinmoy event with a nice small field any day, and they feed you too!

  6. JH Says:

    Yeah, whatever the PR guy says, it was seriously dodgy. Stick to the Sri Chinmoy events, I say.

    Perhaps next year, it could be the “Sri Chinmoy Melbourne Marathon”? They’d have to make enough pancakes for 22,000 people, but I don’t see much of a problem.

  7. Kathryn Says:

    It’s definitely bad. Imagine if you were an inexperienced runner without any fancy gadgetry. You’d think if you could run a certain pace in the run then you’d be able to do it in training — it’d lead to a lot of disappointment (and maybe injury).

  8. sassydrcil Says:

    you tell them Andrew. No excuses for those nitwits. Good to see you anyway.

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