Kenyan Athletes Denied Cash Prize Despite Finishing First in US Marathon
By GEOFFREY LUTTA on 28 September 2021
Two Kenyan athletes suffered a setback in the United States of America after losing out on the cash prize despite coming first in a marathon.
Elijah Mwangangi Saolo and Luke Kibet were a leading pair in the race and were close to breaking the record and win the Ksh331,200 award before a blunder happened in a race that took place on Sunday, September 26.
The pair was close to crossing the finish line but followed a volunteer guide who led them off their marked track.
The blunder led to their disqualifications and even missed on the cash prize despite finishing the race in a record-breaking time.
Mwangangi was on pace to break the course record when he went astray. He was hoping to save enough money to keep his family in the US.
The athlete had even started a fundraising drive in the US appealing to people to help him take care of his family.
He stated that the pandemic had reduced the number of races and prize money severely hampering his running opportunities and income.
The race director confirmed the volunteer cyclist went the wrong way but faulted the Kenyan athletes for ignoring clear markers and signage and following his lead.
The organisers of the competition went ahead to argue that the athletes had been familiarised with the track a day before the race.
Race officials are however reportedly considering how they might compensate both Mwangangi and Kibet.
“I messed up royally,” the upset bicyclist reportedly confessed.
After the two Kenyans were disqualified, US athlete Tyler Pence won the race finishing with a personal best of two hours, 15 minutes, and six seconds to become the first American to win the marathon in 20 years.
“I was about 20 seconds back so I kind of saw it happening, but I’m not going to shout,” he said. “It’s not my job,” Pence stated.
The two Kenyans were left hoping that the organisers of the competition would consider the decision to disqualify them as they had clearly won the race.
Different rules in athletics have hurt and others have come as a blessing in disguise for Kenyan athletes.
On September 12, a Kenyan marathoner was declared the winner of the Vienna Marathon in Europe despite coming in second.
This is after Ethiopia’s Derara Hurisa was disqualified for wearing the wrong shoes even after coming in the first place.