Sue, I understand the point and I also feel sorry for her if she didn't know the rules. However, as the story develops, it is becoming more clear that she did in fact break the rule, she knows she did, and at least at one point she tried to paint a sob story by saying she got disqualified for accepting water from a child when she knew that wasn't the case.
As for the Lakefront enforcement of rules, they do enforce rules pretty strictly and I personally think that's a great thing. It ensures that everyone is competing on a level playing field. This year, I'm sure they placed extra focus on enforcing the rules for the front runners because it was also the USATF Wisconsin championship. Everyone should have known that, though, and those affected should have prepared appropriately by reviewing all the rules.
was this her statement right after the race? or time to think about it?
personally, after a race your brain doesn't work right. I ran off course at a half ironman (honestly the volunteer pointed me in the wrong direction). when I realized this, I backtracked all the way to where I went off course, then I finished the race. I complained to the race director and the race director asked me if I wanted a time adjustment. I said “let me think”. I later said “no” and I'm actually quite surprised and embarassed that I didn't say “no” right away as it goes against my beliefs…..a runner is responsible for knowing the course. I blame adrenaline and the suddeness of having something taken away as strange statements or bad decisions. It appears that she 'fessed up to everything and just wants her name in the results.
If she did truly not know the rule, as seems to be the case, then I do feel sorry for her. However, I also think she brought it upon herself by not reviewing the rules or the runner's FAQ, where this rule was explained. I also question her reaction after the ruling, seemingly trying to get some sympathy by not telling the truth about what brought about her disqualification.