Two Kenyan athletes who were disqualified from the Quad Cities Marathon in the US despite outpacing the eventual winner have finally been compensated.
The two, Elijah Mwangangi and Luke Kibet, were diverted off the course by a race volunteer bicyclist, which led to their disqualification and denial of $3,000 prize.
Mwangangi and Kibet had opened a gap between them and the other participants before the cyclist mistakenly diverted them off the course a little more than halfway to the finish line. Quad-City Times reported that the bicyclist went straight when he should have turned.
“I was winning the race but the guide took us the wrong way, this would have changed my life,” Mwangangi said following their disqualification.
The race director Joe Moreno had earlier blamed the Kenyan athletes, saying they should have followed the signage.
“At that intersection where that incident happened, the course was well-marked. The signage is well-displayed,” he said.
He added: “The volunteers are there. And the fourth element is those elite runners have a meeting the day before to get familiar with the course.”
American Tyler Pence, who crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 6 seconds, was declared the winner of the race and pocketed the first prize of $3,000 (Sh331,200).
He became the first US runner since 2001 to win the race through the Quad Cities along the Mississippi River in Illinois and Iowa.
In a turn of events, the organizers of the annual race decided to award the two Sh221,000 each.
The compensation is a huge relief for Mwangangi, who has been training in New Mexico and was trying to raise enough money to stay in the US with his wife and two children.