According to the Kasaoka Board of Education, the volunteer, who was stationed at a confusing fork in the road along the 3-kilometer course, was supposed to tell the runners to turn left when they reached this point in the mini-marathon. However, the volunteer failed to do so. This resulted in all but one of the participants running an alternate and much shorter, 1.8-kilometer course. The volunteer was quoted as saying "The first group zipped by all at once, so I let the group that came after pass by too."
The sole participant to complete the mini-marathon was a 9-year old 3rd grade boy who was the last to cross the finish line. The boy ended up running the complete 3-kilometer course because he was the only one to be accompanied by an event official.
Although the first participant to cross the finish line did so in 6 minutes and 58 seconds, it was the 9-year old boy who finished last and took 30 minutes and 35 seconds to run the entire 3-kilometer course that was declared the winner of this event.
The mayor of Kasaoka City has apologized for this mistake. In addition to this apology, event organizers have stated that they will be mailing letters of apology to all the participants. They also said that they will be taking measures to ensure this does not happen again.
If you'd like to watch a CG recreation of the events described in this story then check out the TomoNews Japan video below.
Source: Sankei West, TomoNews Japan