Racing News:

Pro Master Recounts Breakaway, Misdirection at End of Long Beach Marathon

Scott Swaney leads the breakaway group shortly before the finish of the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon. Behind him is Dennis Humphrey followed by Grant Foster. Photo by Ken Cleaver.

(Editors note: Scott Swaney, 57, of Culver City, Calif., was one of the four pro masters who broke away from the lead pack shortly before the finish of the Long Beach Marathon on Oct. 16. The four were well ahead of the main pack when they arrived at the final turn and were directed to the wrong finish line. As a result, their times and placements were not recorded. ... Below is Swaney's account of the pro masters race:)

By Scott Swaney

The race this year was uneventful up until the last three miles. There were a few surges and breaks that went nowhere, and the field stayed fairly large due to the slow pace with around thirty or so master skater still appearing to be content with going to the finish line with a large field sprint. This is exactly what happened the previous year, and it mass was confusion with so many sprinting down the single lane at the finish.

I was waiting for a possible break about this point or considering going on one myself. At about two and half miles from the end, a break was initiated by, I believe, Grant Foster. It was covered by Dennis Humphrey and Andy Zak. After they had moved out about a hundred yards, I decided that this was my best chance to get away from the large field sprint that would come later and I sprinted out after the leaders. Lenny Wilcox went with me and no one else followed. After I caught up with the three in the breakaway, Lenny dropped back. When I joined in, Dennis had been pulling and when he saw me come into the group he dropped back. At this point, I continued hammering the pace with the three joining in behind me. With the fear of being caught by the big chase group, I continued leading at full speed until the top of the hill around a hundred yards from the finish line. I looked back and could not see the chase group anymore, and Andy had fallen back from the pack by a short distance, so I knew we would be sprinting down the hill for the top podium spots. The main field was several hundreds yards behind us.

I had been following the motorcycle escort and as we arrived at the final turn, we came into a sea of orange cones and bicycles crossing our sprint line right in front of us. It was mass confusion at that point and I stood up to see what was coming up. An official marshal there was yelling as we were coming up to go left. He was pointing and repeated shouting to go left, which is what we did. At this point we were going down the hill on the left side of the median, which was the cycling chute finish line. We thought that was where we were directed to go. Grant and Dennis sprinted around me down the hill. We were dodging and weaving though the much slower bikes and Grant said he caught an edge and went down. Dennis continued ahead and took the win with me directly behind. Andy came down the hill and passed Grant as he was getting up and came in third and Grant limped in injured in fourth. No one at the finish line told us we had finished in the wrong chute. If they had, we still had time to climb back up the hill a few hundred feet and cross the median and come down the right finish chute and get a timing chip time that was there under the finish banner.

Afterward the main field came down and they gave the first ones down that side the win and top placements. Most of the Pro Master field was aware of our breakaway, so they thought our group had won. Later when we realized what happened, we tried to file a protest with the race director, and he said he would review it and get back with us. We never heard from the officials again.

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Go to the Planet's event photo department

Posted on Oct. 31, 2005)


Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

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