Milwaukee Marathon distance incorrect for second straight year

If you're planning to run the Milwaukee Marathon in 2018, let's hope the third time's a charm. For the second straight year, organizers of the Milwaukee Marathon have failed to deliver a 26.2 mile course. The race was advertised as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathons, but the distance discrepancy means Milwaukee won't count.

Milwaukee Marathon officials confirmed in a statement Wednesday the marathon was short of USATF certification due to the course being "set incorrectly." This is the second year in a row with distance problems in Milwaukee. Last year, the course was too long (26.3 miles). This year, the marathon was short by nearly a mile - 25.4 miles, according to officials.

According to race officials, the shortage was caused by a "misinterpretation" of the route map that caused the turnaround on the Hank Aaron State Trail to be set in the incorrect spot.

"I passed 21 and I was like, 'what the heck?' We never passed 22, and the next one was 23, so I thought something was off," runner Heather Berken told Fox 6 Milwaukee.

But Berken said she doesn't feel cheated out of the marathon experience.

"Run .5 miles to your car, and consider it a full marathon," she said. "You've got the medal. You've got the shirt. It's a marathon."


Joe Zimmerman, president, Milwaukee Marathon: "After last year's experience with vandalized cones in the 2016 Milwaukee Running Festival, course accuracy became our top priority for 2017 (right behind participant safety). Having said that, we took every precaution, hiring two separate course management companies - both experts in the space and highly respected by their peers and other large events -- to ensure absolute accuracy. Immediately after hearing about potential problems from some race participants, we began an all-hands investigation with the race director, route sector captains, and the professional firms employed to set up the course. In spite of these experienced professionals' consistently successful track record working other races, we've come to the conclusion that the full marathon turnaround and 10K turnaround were set short of the USATF Certification markings. Though we were assured that the course was checked and then rechecked to verify that all cones were in the proper place, our post-race investigation confirms that they were in fact set short. We deeply regret that this human error by experienced professionals happened and are notifying all concerned. Delivering this news is hard, but we believe it is our duty to thoroughly investigate all concerns on behalf of our participants. We are working to identify and implement additional, 'above and beyond' best practice processes that will prevent this issue from happening in the future."

Ryan Griessmeyer, Race Day Events: "Race Day Events worked closely with the Milwaukee Marathon and were made aware that the distance of the marathon was short. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the company hired to race direct and manage the course mistakenly set the turnaround early. We are working with the event to make sure participants are made aware of the mistake and any effects it may have on their performance. We are also using the results of this investigation to make sure we have a best process in place for next year's event to insure this does not happen again."

Chad Antcliff, race director: "Regrettably, the course for the marathon route for this past Sunday's Milwaukee Marathon was set incorrectly. Misinterpretation of the route certification map caused the turnaround on the Hank Aaron State trail to be set in the incorrect spot, causing the route to be approximately 4200' short. I was contracted by the event and it was my responsibility as the technical race director to ensure race staff and vendors clearly understand the route, its markings, and intricacies. I failed to make clear the key points with the layout of the course. I will work closely with the Milwaukee Marathon, staff, and vendors to develop safeguards to prevent this type of mistake from happening again."

The Milwaukee Marathon was under new ownership this year, but the same experts were used to measure the course.