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The Bizarre Track Event That Left Every Runner Disqualified

There was no winner.

Two of the five runners from heat 3 of a 400m race were due to advance to the next round of competition, but a mass disqualification scratched every runner’s time, leaving the race with no winner and no advancing runners. After the first starting gun fired, the race, held in Birmingham, England, was halted as a runner was sent off for a false start, reducing the field to only four runners and requiring a restart.

The phrase “stay in your lane” is often used pejoratively to tell people to stay out of certain affairs, but in the literal sense, the remaining four runners really should have stayed in their lanes. All four were disqualified from the race for running out of their lanes too early. As such, the race, even when re-run after the first infraction, ended with no runners matriculating to the next round of competition.

Here’s the race in its entirety, including the early dismissal of Qatar’s Abdalelah Haroun for his false start.

While this race was the most egregious instance of disqualifications at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, the competition hosted many more punishments for various infractions, causing many to speak to the inferiority of indoor track events for this very reason. The smaller-scale tracks tend to serve, more so than their outdoor counterparts, as platforms for agility as much as speed.

Here’s a runner from another race suffering the same fate after stepping on the inside rail of the track amid a pack of competitors.

With athletics so often a zero-sum game, the misfortune the five runners in heat 3 suffered will serve to benefit two more also-runs who will now, by default, proceed to the next round of competition.

Chances are, we won’t here that lucky duo badmouthing the rash of disqualifications at this track meet.

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