The eventual winner of the Glen Moray road race was made to do a punishing 30 miles after marshalls directed him along the wrong route.
Connell Drummond, from Kilmarnock, had a clear lead over the rest of the pack at one point but had to battle back from 16th place following the navigation error.
Instead of heading away from the town Elgin, the competitors nearly ended up back there before the driver of the escort car realised the mistake.
Mr Drummond, who fought his way back to win the race, said: “I was only about three miles into it and I could see the lead car was slowing down – I knew something wasn’t right.
“I was just jogging on the spot and he shouted out the marshal had sent him the wrong way and I better turn round, which was good advice I suppose.”
Organisers initially feared that the entire field of runners had taken a wrong turn.
But it is understood a local entrant pointed out the mistake in the route and prevented all 55 runners from becoming lost.