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The San Francisco Marathon's Dirty Little Secret

Posted Oct 21 2008 4:24pm

Arien About 20,000 competitors raced in Sunday's Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.

The official winner from the elite wave covered the course in 3 hours and 6 minutes.

But 24-year-old Arien O'Connell (pictured here), a fifth-grade teacher from New York City, ran the fastest time of any of the women with a time of 2:55:11.

So why didn't she win?

According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

"While O'Connell had the greatest run of her life and covered the course faster than any woman, she was told she couldn't be declared the winner because she didn't run with the "elite" group who were given a 20-minute head start.

So what could have been a lovely Cinderella story about a young woman rising above her expectations in a race that bills itself as all about empowering women turned into a strict the-rules-are-the-rules edict. That's not the image we're trying to promote here.

At the awards ceremony, the O'Connell clan looked on as the top times were announced and the "elite" female runners stepped forward to accept their trophies.

"They called out the third-place time and I thought, 'I was faster than that,' " she said. "Then they called out the second-place time and I was faster than that. And then they called out the first-place time (3:06), and I said, 'Heck, I'm faster than her first-place time, too.' "

Just to make sure, O'Connell strolled over to a results station and asked a race official to call up her time on the computer. There it was, some 11 minutes faster than the official winner."

You can read the rest of the details HERE.

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