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Italian Runner Wins Venice Marathon After All The Favorites Take A Wrong Turn

Venice! Not pictured: the apparent skein of streets that led the guiding motorcycle astray in the city's marathon Sunday.

It's fair to say things were not supposed to go this way at the Venice Marathon.

It would've been little surprise if Kenya's Gilbert Kipleting Chumba had won the race Sunday — or maybe it could have been his countryman David Kiprono Metto. And, in fact, both of those favorites were among the leaders roughly 16 miles into the marathon.

Then, they took a wrong turn.

Led astray by a guide motorcycle, the small pack of runners leading the marathon followed the errant rider several hundred meters off course and apparently onto a main thoroughfare. A video captured the crucial, crushing moment the runners learned of the error and turned back.

Delayed by about 2 minutes, according to The Associated Press, the favorites ultimately lost out to Eyob Ghebrehiwet Faniel, a local who was reportedly running in only his second marathon. Faniel, who has been referred to by both surnames, runs for the Venice Marathon Club. The Eritrean-born Italian made his official marathon debut in Florence last year, as noted by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Now, he is the first Italian man to win the Venice Marathon in 22 years.

"Today's race shows that the work is paying off," Faniel said after the marathon, according to the IAAF. "It was not an easy race as I had to run alone on the Ponte della Libertà. I dedicate the win to myself as I have always believed in my work despite all the difficulties."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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