Chaos engulfed a 10k race in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Sunday when hundreds of runners went the wrong way after following an unwitting cyclist who they assumed was one of the race officials.
Heaton Harriers, organisers of the Town Moor Memorial 10k, which had to be restarted as a result of the confusion, said in a statement published on its website after Sunday’s event:
As runners at todays event will be aware the race had to be restarted due to the lead runners taking an incorrect route as they approached the lake, as a result most athletes ran around 800m before they were called back to start the race again.
This was due to a member of the public entering the course on a bicycle just before the starting gun was sounded. The cyclist was dressed in fluorescent clothing and as the leading group of runners ran closer to him they mistook him to be a race official and mistakenly followed him to the right instead of carrying straight on.
We apologise for any inconvenience caused and will take steps in future events to ensure this does not happen again.
Race winner Ian Hudspith, aged 42 and from Morpeth told Chronicle Live afterwards: “I had not ran the race before so I just followed the leaders and lo and behold we were told by a marshall we were going the wrong way.
“When we eventually got back on track I was in about 50th place and well down on the leaders who had gone the right way.
"It was shortly after that it was decided to halt the race and start all over again, which was the sensible thing to do and I as far as I could gather everyone accepted the decision.
“It is quite a difficult course with all the twists and turns in Exhibition Park and I would rather they just ran two circuits of the Moor. If they did I do not think there would be any problems with competitors going the wrong way.”
The unknown cyclist was not available for comment so we shall never know how he or she felt about being followed by hundreds of runners on the Town Moor (which also has a well used permissive cycle path across it) on a Sunday morning.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.