FORT MYERS, Fla. - The seven-year winner of the annual Veteran's Day Midpoint Madness 5k, John Biffar, came in second... but Biffar is the official winner again. Here's why: the first person to cross the finish line never registered to participate.
A WINK news photographer shot video showing as the "winner" crosses the line, beating Biffar, race organizers spot he doesn't have an official race number.
And he wasn't the only unregistered runner who joined the 847 officially registered runners.
"There were out of the first 20 finishers several people who didn't register, not just that first finisher," said Vice-president of the Fort Myers Track Club Kim Davis, "We don't have an exact number."
Those runners did something called "running bandit" - when you don't pay the race fee but run anyway.
"Some people will say 'Well you don't own the street so we can run where we want.' But especially with the Midpoint Bridge, it's not a place you can normally run on. The only reason they can run on it is because the Fort Myers Track Club and the YMCA did everything they needed to do to get the permits to close the road and get the police and sheriff's officers to close the roads," said Davis.
Even though the bandit was disqualified, the Fort Myers Track Club says the real losers are the charities the race fees benefit - which last night included the YMCA, United Way and PFC Corey Kent. Kent is a Cape Coral soldier who lost his legs from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
"That's who you're hurting," said Davis.
The Fort Myers Track Club learned the bandit is a member of the Florida Gulf Coast University men's cross country team. The coach contacted the club Friday afternoon to apologize on behalf of two runners who participated but did not pay. Those two runners are sending written apologies and have offered to pay the race fees.