The historic day includes a new route, a mystery car


The 45th annual free press marathon made history on Sunday with significant and welcome course changes, continued rebuilding after the 2020 virtual race and some quirky finish line appearances – three vehicles strayed onto the road, in the middle of swarms of runners.

The motorized trio included a rental car whose occupants abandoned it after the organized race forced them to park.

The new marathon route added slices of Brush Park and the downtown entertainment district, meandered through Eastern Market and carved out Dequindre Cut – a former underground railway line, now a landscaped and artistic exercise route. Each of the new course segments has been a popular addition, said George Dubrish, director of the marathon handicap division for hand cyclists who start their race two minutes before the runners.

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A vehicle is seen on the marathon course near the finish line during the 45th annual Detroit Free Press Marathon in Detroit on Sunday, October 16, 2022.

“Almost all the feedback I heard was positive about the course changes,” Dubrish said, adding, “I don’t think anyone really missed going to Belle Isle,” a long-standing feature of the Free. Press Marathon, dating back to the event’s very first race in 1978. Although teeming with water views, Belle Isle is generally devoid of spectators and often buffets athletes with the race’s strongest winds.

Another historic addition was the Military Mile on East Lafayette, where military vehicles and groups of veterans gathered to cheer on runners while providing a unique diversion for runners, ending at either end with huge arm-draped American flags of raised cranes.

These are sites that everyone seems to want to revisit, said Aaron Velthoven, vice president of the Free Press Marathon and executive producer of the race.

What he hopes never to see again is an ordinary car competing with weary marathon runners for sidewalk space, Velthoven said. It was not an official looking car, not a police car, not an emergency vehicle. Instead, in a marathon first, a regular Chevrolet Malibu with what appeared to be rental plates strayed onto the course near its end, then slid across the finish line around 10:30 a.m. . race officials frantically yelled at the driver to stop.

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After the car crossed the finish line, race officials asked the driver to park at the far right of the marathon finish area, then drove the car a quarter mile out of the way. most congested section. At that time, they ordered the driver to pull over. As authorities called police, the male driver got out of the car, strongly objected to being photographed, then gave a two-sentence explanation to passers-by about driving away from the nearby Fort Pontchartrain hotel without being aware of the race.

Moments later, he hurried away from the crowd gathered around the car. About a minute later, his companion in the front passenger seat did the same, disappearing just before several police officers arrived on foot, who then set off in the last direction of the errant motorists.

Race officials said they never heard whether the driver was cited after he apparently abandoned a rental car in downtown Detroit.

What appears to be an unrelated racing vehicle crosses the finish line of the 45th annual Detroit Free Press Marathon in Detroit on Sunday, October 16, 2022.

“We did our best to keep the riders safe” throughout the incident, Velthoven said. A Detroit police spokesperson later said any reports on the incident would have to wait until Monday.

An hour later, another surprise came to the finish line. Two open-air four-wheel utility trucks crossed the finish line. These were the ones seen on golf courses and farms, sometimes referred to as ATVs for “all-terrain vehicles”. Like the Malibu, they were also flagged and directed to the side of the course, then followed on foot by stunned race officials as the ATVs veered away from the racers and out of the finish line chutes. They are sales people who oversee the portable generators on the race course, Velthoven said.

“It looks like they took a wrong turn and just decided to keep going down the course,” instead of trying to start again with a sea of ​​runners behind them – the safest way, he said. declared.

At a marathon? “You never get bored,” joked Velthoven.

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