A year ago, Senbere Teferi won the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta over ten kilometers in a record time of 30:49 minutes. That's why the 28-year-old was the clear favorite this year. Until shortly before the finish line, it looked as if the Ethiopian long-distance runner would be the first to cross the finish line again. But a momentous mistake cost them the victory they thought was certain.
On the final stretch to the finish line, Teferi accidentally followed a police motorcycle that had been accompanying the running group up to that point. As the bike turned right onto a side street, Teferi ran after it, seemingly lost in thought, clearing the way for Fotyen Haiylu Tesfay, who had been second up until that point.
The runner, also from Ethiopia, won the race after 30:44 minutes. Teferi spotted the mistake and quickly turned back, but in the end it was only enough for third place behind Kenya's Jesca Chelangat. Particularly annoying: Due to the botched victory, she also missed out on the proud prize of $10,000, and as a third-place winner "only" received $3,000
The AJC Peachtree Road Race organizer took to Twitter, dismayed by the incident, writing: "As our defending champion, Senbere Teferi, approached the finish line, she briefly appeared confused and was following a police motorcycle that swerved off course. She was in sight of the goal banners but we understand that in the heat of competition instructions can be misinterpreted. As an organization we are always disappointed when we don't achieve perfection and in this case it seems that way."
Notably, despite her brief excursion in the wrong direction, Teferi still managed to beat her record from last year by two seconds. She finally crossed the finish line at 30:47 minutes.
Sources: 11Alive, CNN, Twitter