Slow train crosses marathon course, hurts finish times

VIA Marathon will be hot

Slow train crosses marathon course, hurts finish times

A slow-moving train in Pennsylvania might have brought some runners' dreams of the Boston Marathon to a halt.

Lehigh Valley Health Network's Via Marathon was in full swing on Sunday when a slow train crossed the race course near Allentown, stopping runners in their tracks.

The Boston Marathon issued similar guidance last week after runners made a wrong turn at a qualifying marathon in Santa Rosa, Calif. Runners there had back-tracked and completed the course.

Racers reported being held up anywhere from a minute to 10 and some runners, unwilling to mar their times, reportedly jumped or crawled under the train.

The Boston Marathon has opened its multi-stage registration Monday where it accepted runners who had times 20 minutes and faster than the qualifying times.

The 10th annual Via Marathon was held in the Lehigh Valley.

Could train controversy tarnish Via Marathon's draw?

Via said it received "absolute assurances" from the Norfolk Southern Railroad that trains would be suspended for three hours during the race Sunday morning. It's not uncommon for runners to run so-called faster races - which are usually flatter or better weather - to qualify for Boston.

"I ended up running 3:24:07, which puts me pretty close to the cut-off", Cutrona said.

In its statement, Via said that marathon times would be re-evaluated "on a runner-by-runner basis".

In a news release, organizers said Gerry Yasso, vice president of development for Via, had a meeting in June with Norfolk Southern officials about the train schedule and there were email exchanges about the logistics of the race.

Some runners may have been stuck at the train crossing a long time while others may have been there a short time, he said. "The incident is especially regrettable and was quite unexpected".

"We have communicated to the race organizers out there that we will accept unadjusted times for the objective of qualifying for the Boston Marathon", Fleming said.

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