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This Coast marathon course wasn’t 26.2 miles. What’s that mean for Boston qualifiers?

That marathon some ran Sunday across South Mississippi — it turns out it wasn’t exactly a marathon.

Jonathan Dziuba, race director for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon, sent out an email to runners who thought they ran 26.2 miles in a time to qualify for the Boston Marathon in April 2018.

Because of a measurement mishap along Interstate 110, runners only completed 25.905 miles.

Dzibua took full responsibility for the mistake.

“The course was indeed short and it was my failure in communication that led it to being so,” Dziuba wrote in an email.

Since participants didn’t run a full 26.2 miles, they don’t qualify for the Boston Marathon, said Dan Bourgeois, media relations representative for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon.

“If it’s long, we’re fine, but if it’s short, we’re not fine,” Bourgeois said. “It’s unfortunate. It’s a big deal. I know he (Dziuba) is devastated that this happened. We all are.”

Here’s what happened, according to Dziuba:

  • Runners made complaints Sunday that the course was not 26.2 miles. By Monday, they were submitting Strava and Garmin data to Dziuba to show that the race was short.
  • At first, runners were getting a standard response to distance discrepancies related to satellite data, for Dziuba personally measured the course set for certification, and turnarounds were marked to his exact specifications, he said.
  • The error occurred when Dziuba instructed the person measuring and setting the turnarounds on Interstate 110 to set turnaround point at the second interstate truss mark. Runners should have, in fact, turned around at the third truss mark.

“It was my absent mindedness that led to communicating to that person the incorrect instructions,” Dziuba said in an email to runners. “I am deeply sorry for this series of events. I’m sorry that I didn’t recognize it earlier and that our responses have not been on point due to that. I always trust my staff and my people and they confirmed they did exactly as instructed. It wasn’t until later that I realized my instructions were wrong.”

Bourgeois said that runners who received a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon can compete in the Louisiana Marathon in about six weeks to qualify for the Boston Marathon free of charge. Those Boston Marathon qualifiers can also can opt to participate in next year’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon at no cost.

“We’re doing our best to rectify it,” Bourgeois said. “It’s the ultimate un-fun part. It’s a mishap.”

Runners train for months and even the whole year for a marathon, and Bourgeois said having to do it again in a short amount of time can be challenging.

“It really hurts for the person who qualified,” Bourgeois said. “It’s kind of like getting engaged and finding out he’s married — at the wedding when you’re getting the ring on your finger. It’s that kind of gut-wrenching feeling.”

Dzibua could not say how many runners would have qualified for the Boston Marathon after completing Sunday’s race on the Coast.

The measurements for the half-marathon were certified and correct, Dziuba said in the email.

Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @JustinMitchell_

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