Marathon winner disqualified for running half-marathon: I got lost

Runners compete in Medellin's Flowers Marathon ('Maraton de las Flores Medellin' in Spanish) in the Colombian city of Medellin, Antioquia department, on September 9, 2012. RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/GettyImages

RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/GettyImages

(CBS News) According to the legend, "marathon" derives its name from the Greek messenger Pheidippides. In 290 BC, he was dispatched on a 26-mile sprint to Athens to relay the news that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. It is said that after delivering the message, he collapsed and died from exhaustion.

This cautionary tale may explain why some modern-day marathoners are prone to taking shortcuts.

In 1980, Rosie Ruiz infamously took the subway on the way to her Boston Marathon "victory." Just last year, a runner in London hopped on a bus.

Most marathon short cutters, however, simply shave off a mile or two on the course. But on Sunday, a man in South Dakota took the shortcut to a whole new level: He ran half the distance.

According to the Argus Leader, 37-year-old Olok Nykew of St. Paul, Minn., registered for the Sioux Falls Marathon and crossed the finish line first. But his time shattered the race record by 25 minutes, and race officials determined that he had run only the half-marathon.

The two races followed separate but sometimes overlapping routes through South Dakota's largest city before ending at the same finish line.

Nykew, who was disqualified, said it was an honest mistake.

"Maybe I'm lost, I don't know," he told the Argus Leader. "I thought what is this? When I got there I thought it was not long enough. I'm thinking I'm not cheating. I was just confused. It was an honest mistake."

According to the Chicago Tribune, chip-timing technology has made it nearly impossible to take a shortcut without getting caught. At the 2009 Chicago Marathon, 252 runners' times were disqualified for not running the full course.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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