translated and edited by Brett Larner
262 out of 263 participants in a road race were disqualified after they were misdirected, with only one person running the correct course. The mishap occurred at a race in Kasaoka, Okayama on Feb. 5. According to city officials, in the children's 3 km division the field of 263 elementary school students from 3rd grade through 6th grade was misdirected. 262 of them ran the wrong way, with the first child to finish covering what was estimated to be less than 2 km in 6:51. Followed by a staff member on a bicycle, only the last-place child ran the correct course to complete the full 3 km distance. All the other children were disqualified, and city officials decided to honor the lone finisher as the winner.
The race, the 20th Bayfarm Kasaoka Road Race, featured 30 different divisions including a half marathon, 10 km and separate 3 km races for junior high school and elementary school students. Both the junior high and elementary school races followed the same course, the junior high school students starting first and the elementary school students five minutes later. In the past the elementary school students have chased after the junior high students and there has never been a problem with them getting lost on the course, but with only 40 people in the junior high division this year the lead group of elementary school runners lost sight of them. Although there were guidance signs on the course they were described as "hard to understand," and volunteer staff along the route were mainly focused on safety and security and didn't notice the elementary school runners had gone the wrong way.
As a result, although all the junior high school division runners ran the correct 3 km course, 262 of the 263 elementary school runners were estimated to have run only 1.8 km. Staff members surprised at their early arrival at the finish line confirmed that they had gone off-course. The race could not be run again, so in addition to the official winner the first six finishers were still recognized at the award ceremony. "They tried," commented race officials.