400 miss the start of Seafair Marathon
Four hundred runners, many of whom had trained for months to run today's Seafair Marathon, found themselves stranded miles from the starting...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Four hundred runners, many of whom had trained for months to run Sunday's Seafair Marathon, found themselves stranded miles from the starting line without buses to transport them — an organizational snafu that angered runners and has race officials promising to make amends.
The runners were expected to be at Bellevue's Downtown Park at 5 a.m., when the buses were scheduled to begin moving participants to the starting line at Husky Stadium in Seattle, said Seafair spokesman Dan Wartelle.
But more people showed up for the final 6:45 a.m. shuttle than organizers expected, and 400 of the 4,800 registered for the race were unable to get from the park to the stadium.
Runners were to begin at the stadium, run across the Highway 520 bridge, and complete a 26.2- or a 13.1-mile course for either a full marathon or a half-marathon, ending at the park. It's the first time the race has been routed over the bridge.
Longtime Seattle runner Lisa Richardson, 37, had trained for months for the full marathon, hoping to requalify for the Boston Marathon. She arrived in Bellevue shortly after 6 a.m., thinking she had 45 minutes to catch a shuttle. But she found that when some of the earlier buses weren't full, runners' friends and family members had boarded, and runners arriving later were out of luck.
"They couldn't get me over to Husky Stadium. It's the worst case of poor planning — an absolute joke," Richardson said.
Race officials did bring her and some of the others to the 13-mile point and let them run half the route. But for those who've trained for a marathon, a half is a poor substitute. And those who planned to run the half-marathon had trained for the terrain in the first 13 miles of the course, not the last half.
Margie Webb, 58, of Bothell, and her daughter planned on running the half-marathon to celebrate Webb's second recovery from cancer. She had breast-cancer surgery only two weeks ago and arrived full of determination at 5:55 a.m. She barely made it on the last 6:45 a.m. bus from Bellevue.
"We got on, but some guy was shouting, 'Standing-room only.' I wondered what happened to the rest of those people," she said.
"Our volunteers were supposed to give priority to runners," Wartelle said. He said officials held up the race start by 15 minutes but couldn't delay any longer because of the marathon's temporary lane closures on the bridge.
Runners paid between $65 and $100 in entry fees, depending on when they registered. Whether or not the race will refund those fees has not been decided.
"When we get back in the office this week, we'll make contact with those runners and see that they are satisfied," Wartelle said.
Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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