The marathon was advertised as a qualifier for the Boston and New York City marathons, but because it fell short by nearly a mile its participants will not get USATF Certification.
An internal investigation was launched after runners reported errors with their GPS, recording distances that fell short of the regulation 26.2 miles. This is the second year in a row that the marathon has plotted an incorrect length.
The latest revelation comes with a backlash of disappointment, and general frustration over the issue of traffic routes that were not properly marked with detour directions. Any race that goes through a major city is expected to cause disruption, but the Milwaukee Marathon crippled downtown mobility as drivers were left with no clear alternative routes.
Marathon officials, confirming the race was too short, released a statement on October 18:
“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.”
– Joe Zimmerman, President, Milwaukee Marathon
“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.”
– Ryan Griessmeyer, Race Day Events
“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.”
– Chad Antcliff, Race Director