Never in Rose City Run history had the winner been determined by staying the course – literally.
Saturday’s 33rd annual event saw Chris Lake cross the finish line first for the fourth time in five years after capitalizing on an untimely miscue by runner-up Nathan Haskins.
Haskins, who led the bulk of Saturday’s foggy and soggy race, veered off course when he remained on Pinetree Blvd. past the directed turn on Patterson St. at the four-mile marker. Haskins looped up Pinetree past the Jackets’ Nest and pulled back down on Patterson Still Rd., two blocks too far.
The directional cyclist in front of Haskins instructed him to continue on Pinetree despite Haskins’ brief discernment to the contrary. Once flashing headlights appeared in his foreground, it dawned that something was wrong.
“I knew in my mind I was supposed to make a left,” Haskins said after accepting his pink rose and silver cup for finishing second. “I just thought maybe they had a detour. But because I was the leader, I didn’t want to go in the wrong direction and bring the entire pack with me.”
After Haskins returned to the course, he logged his final mile in 4 minutes and 49 seconds – his fastest of the morning – to finish just 65 seconds behind Lake.
“Once I got back on, I kept asking every cop I saw ‘How far ahead is he?” Haskins said of Lake.
In an upright gesture during the awards ceremony, Lake elegantly handed his first place trophy to Haskins, telling the latter: “Had it not been for a technicality, this would’ve been yours. You deserve it.”
Haskins denied Lake’s forward, but thanked the competitor for the notion and said he will be back next year to hopefully take home his own once again.
“It just shows his character to say: “Hey, you got me today,’” Haskins said of Lake. “Just because I would’ve won, and I think he knows that, it’s still too much of a gray area to say that I won the race – because I didn’t. I’d much rather him take it because he finished and ran the right course, and the results will not show that I won no matter what, so it wouldn’t be right.”