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Half-Marathon Winner Disqualified After Accidentally Running the Wrong Race

Sports Illustrated logo Sports Illustrated 9/20/2021 Andrew Gastelum
a group of people walking down the street © Provided by Sports Illustrated

Omar Ahmed signed up to run the 10k race in Sunday's Great Bristol Run only to finish first in the half marathon when he took the wrong route.

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It's not often that a casual half marathon makes headlines, but it's even more rare when a runner starts one race only to finish another. 

Omar Ahmed, a native of Birmingham, England, signed up to run the 10k race in Sunday's Great Bristol Run, but inadvertently took a wrong turn when the routes for the 10k and half marathon, which took place simultaneously, diverged. 

Ahmed ended up taking the half marathon route and remarkably finished first, four minutes ahead of the next competitor with a personal-best time of 63 minutes. In fact, Ahmed said he thought he was running the 10k until the halfway mark of the 22-kilometer (13.1 miles) half marathon.

"At the beginning, I thought I was doing a 10k," Ahmed told the Bristol Post. "Then I asked someone when I reached the sixth mile, ‘is this a 10k’ and they said ‘no, it’s a half marathon. After that I slowed down a bit, so it's amazing that I've set a new personal best."

But it turns out that Ahmed wasn't able to celebrate for long. Race organizers later disqualified him following multiple objections from other competitors and an investigation into the incident. The organizers ruled that since Ahmed was not registered for the half marathon, he technically couldn't be deemed the winner. 

"Rules are rules and in this case they say we have to disqualify Omar," Paul Foster, chief executive of The Great Run Company, said. "We salute his performance, and he has been invited to take part in next week's Great Manchester Run as an elite athlete. Of course, we also look forward to welcoming him back to Bristol for 2022's Great Bristol Run."

If there's any consolation, Ahmed could at least go home that no one was faster than him on his best day, even if he started the day running a different race. 

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