Eden Marathon whizz misses the pistol while in the loo
SPENDING a penny almost cost the winner of the Eden Marathon his title – after the starting gun was fired for the race while he was in the toilet.
Competitor Pete Roper, emblazoned with the 001 race number, was forced to start with a sprint after there was confusion at the start of the 26-mile race.
Mr Roper – favourite for the title – should have been lined up with the elite runners for the start of the race in order to have a clear run, however, he found himself at the back of the pack after nipping to the toilet.
The 48-year-old from Dorset said: "There were 1,500 runners in front of me instead of behind."
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Mr Roper, who runs with the Dorset Doddlers Running Club, was left with no other option than to vault over barriers and push through to try and regain his position.
He said: "I ended up doing the first four miles in just over 20 minutes; a few barriers went flying."
He has competed three times in the Eden Marathon, winning it in 2009 and again in 2011.
He said he was bemused by the lack of warning before the starting pistol and the change of format, which saw the half-marathon runners signalled to start simultaneously with the full-marathon competitors.
Some runners had also commented on the lack of marshals for the course this year, he claimed.
Mr Roper said: "It wasn't as well organised as it has been previously to be honest. It was all right in the end."
He has said this will be his last Eden Marathon after winning with a time of 2 hours, 55 minutes and 53 seconds.
"It was good; the course was harder than previous years and it was really wet so the off-road sections were very tough. It took it out of me a bit but my aim was to win for a third time and I'm very pleased I did," he added.
An Eden Project spokesman said: "All the runners were advised of the starting place and the start time of 10am. The pistol was fired right on time at 10am.
"We have had compliments from runners on how well the event was marshalled. Proportionately we had as many marshals this year as we have in past years."
For pictures from the marathon, see pages 26 and 27