Pine Belt runners react to marathon mix-up

Pine Belt runners react to marathon mix-up

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Four Pine Belt runners trained for 22 weeks for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon last weekend with hopes to qualify for the Boston Marathon as a team.

"We started day one and hit it everyday of every week, the whole way through," Joshua Moore said.

For Moore, last weekend's marathon in Biloxi was his first.  With his training buddies, Grover Brown, Arrmon Abedikichi and Dan Vega, the four hoped to all qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2019.

"We trained hard, the hardest I've ever trained in my life," Brown said.

The training paid off.  All four men stayed together and on pace until Mile 17, when two took off from the pack. Moore finished with a time of 2:56:10, Brown at 2:56:18.

But, a day after crossing the finish line, the runners got word of a major mix-up.

"I saw a post on Facebook, then I emailed the director and he verified for me," Moore said.

The race director sent an email to the hundreds of participants about a mistake.  Because of a measurement mishap along I-110, the course was 25.905 miles.  That's 1,555 feet short of the 26.2 miles needed, which all four men ran with times to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

"There's that initial sense of disappointment, because we kinda felt like we had the rug pulled out from underneath us," Grover said.  "But, for all purposes, we are all Boston qualifiers. We all hit our time by five or six minutes."

Since the Boston Marathon will not honor the times from the race, the director has given participants the option to compete in the Louisiana Marathon free of charge.  That race is in just six weeks.

With the training, Moore said that would not be possible.  So, the group took off running on new plans for a marathon to qualify.  Wednesday evening, the group, and a fifth runner, signed up for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in New Orleans in March.

The group said they are taking the experience with stride and look forward to supporting each other in the training ahead.

"If you get down about every little thing, you shouldn't run marathons," Moore said.