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Sydney 13.1: Is course-cutting acceptable?

Photo courtesy Dr. Norm Lewis @
Here's a shot of the wrecking crew I ran with at yesterday's Sydney, Australia Half Marathon.  On left is Virginia Hamrick (who runs like a gazelle) and on right is Hannah Helms (who gutted out her first-ever 13.1 finish).

That's master man in the middle. The dazed look on my face represents some of the tomfoolery I noted on the course, related to massive course cutting by a substantial portion of the field.

Here's my Garmin watch shot of the course. Note opera house, on the north end of the cove to the left of our route.
Joan Benoit would not be amused (for those who can't recall Benoit, she's the inaugural women's Olympic marathon winner in 1984 who never cut a corner, even in training)

On some sections, the road would sweep to the left or right and hundreds of runners would jam through sidewalk or market areas to take a short line into the next turn. On another occasion we had an out and back section; many runners turned back prior to the final marking cone.  I was nearly steamrolled going to the final cone and making an official turn back.

I have read reports that it's also an issue in European ultrarunning. As a matter of fact, many in other cultures believe the shortest distance between two points is fine and acceptable.

I ran a 1:59, nothing to write home about. What ever the time, I do want an "official" finish. I'm racing for personal pride; pulling up a few hundred yards short of 13.1 does matter.

What's your opinion on this phenomenon?


  1. Course-cutters are merely getting exercise. True competitors run the entire course.


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