On Sunday morning, the leading group of five runners in the central German city's marathon had to be disqualified after accidentally taking a detour off the course, and shaving 5km off their run in the process, Die Hessische Allgemeine (HNA) reports.
The detour meant that their run was invalid, and therefore at 11:35, five minutes after the infraction, run organiser Winfried Aufenanger took the decision to remove the four Kenyan runners and local Ybekal Daniel Berye from the race.
Blame for leading the runners astray was initially cast on the police guarding the sidelines of the course, but police denied all responsibility and it soon emerged that the timing car was to blame.
Head of operations for the race, Achim Scholz, told the HNA that the lead car and the police motorbike had gone the right way.
“The incident occurred in the 19th kilometre when the driver of the timing vehicle on Ysenburgstraße did not follow the police cars turning onto Josephstrasse, but continued his journey towards Weserstraße,” he explained.
The runners continued straight instead of taking a right on their route, shown here at 2:20
But the disqualification wasn't bad news for everyone, as according to a press release on the Kassel Marathon website, the winners of the last two years were both in the disqualified group, leaving the top spot open for a newcomer.
First place went to Maciek Miereczko with a time of 02:27:39 and second went to Frederik Unewisse with 2:31:03. Oliver Hoffmann followed closely behind with a time of 2:33:37 and earned a place on the podium with third.
“It's a shame for the guys but it's a nice feeling to be second nonetheless,” Unewisse said in an official marathon statement.
However, it wasn't all bad news for the top five runners, as they received money from the marathon organisers to compensate for their disqualification, corresponding to what position they were in when they were stopped.
In total there were 9,132 participants in the race, shy of the target 10,000. But organiser Winfried Aufenanger told the HNA he was satisfied with proceedings that weekend.
“We've had three great days of events,” the 70-year-old said “even if the business with the top group clouded the big picture.”