Nike fudges, recognizes fastest marathon runner as "a" winner
C.W. Nevius, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
(10-22) 12:18 PDT San Francisco
Marathon runner Arien O'Connell will be a winner after all.
O'Connell ran the fastest time in last Sunday's Nike Women's Marathon, but when she finished she was told she couldn't be awarded first place because she hadn't run in the "elite" women's group, which was given a 20-minute head start.
O'Connell said she was contacted early this morning by a Nike representative who said they were going to award her a trophy and recognize her as a winner.
Not the winner - "a" winner. Notice the distinction.
"She told me they had been getting lots of calls and e-mails," said O'Connell, a fifth-grade teacher in New York City. "She said they were going to send me the same prize as the one awarded to the winner."
O'Connell's story, which first appeared in Tuesday's Chronicle, set off a firestorm of controversy, most of it directed at corporate sports giant and race sponsor, Nike.
O'Connell said the Nike representative also said that the sports shoe corporation had also decided to eliminate the "elite" category in the annual San Francisco event and would let everyone start at the same time.
The annual event is billed as the largest women's marathon in the world with 20,000 entries. O'Connell ran the race in 2 hours, 55 minutes and 11 seconds. The fastest woman in the elite group ran it in about 3 hours, 6 minutes.