Surely one of the biggest gripes race directors must have regarding the growth of technology in running is everyone who complains that a race route was too short or too long because it measured that way on their GPS watch!
Bearing in mind the standard response that your GPS watch will never measure the exact route distance due to a number of factors including that you probably will not be running the most direct route and the allowance for margin of error in the devices, a quick search online indicates that there are indeed many times where races have been measured too short or too long.
The most recent example is the Vienna Indoor Marathon held in Austria on 16 December this year where promoters has advertised the race as perfect for setting a PB due to ‘zero incline or descent, no wind and a constant temperature of 15 degrees Celsius’. All good factors to help set a marathon PB, but not as helpful as the fact the course was 1.8 kilometres short!
There are a list of other examples all around the world of courses been too short or too long; the 2005 Lakeshore Marathon, the 2010 Cardiff Half Marathon and the 2012 Hull Marathon, Whistler Half Marathon and Huntly Half Marathon.
Debate still occurs about the 1954 Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games) held in Vancouver where English marathoner Jim Peters entered the stadium some three miles ahead of his closest competitor. He collapsed upon entering the stadium and took 15 minutes to go just 200 yards and story has it he fell numerous times before collapsing over the believed finish line and into the arms of his trainer – however it was the wrong finish line, used for track events, while the marathon line was further on. He was disqualified for receiving outside assistance. There is still a belief by some that the actual course was measured too long.
This all raises the question – would you rather have your race measured too far or too short?