Athletics: Chaos as India marathon leaders miss turn, take the bus to end point

NEW DELHI (AFP) - A marathon ended in farce in India after the pilot car overshot a turn, forcing the top three runners to take a long detour before abandoning the race - and taking a bus to the finish line.

The leaders, who missed the U-turn at the 16km mark, ran four extra kilometres before officials finally stopped them and told them they had taken the wrong route, a newspaper reported on Monday.

Realising they had no chance of recovering ground, the three abandoned the 42.195km race in the southern city of Bangalore on Sunday and borrowed money from spectators to take a bus to the finishing line.

"There were no officials on the road where we were supposed to take the U-turn," one of the runners, Inderjit Patel, told the Times of India.

"We were just following the pilot car.

"It was too late when we were told what had happened. There was no point continuing the race. I am not bothered about missing the prize money, but disappointed that we had to suffer this humiliation."

Race organisers admitted the mistake and apologised. But there were other mess-ups in the race, which was flagged off by Olympic gold medallist and multiple world champion distance runner Haile Gebrselassie of Ethopia.

Runners had to line up at the start behind a row of heavy-set security guards who were slow to get out of the way when the flag went down, causing many competitors to trip over them.