An Illinois man scored a first-place finish at the Quad Cities Marathon this weekend after the two Kenyan runners ahead of him were led off course by a pace bicyclist.
The two Kenyan runners, Elijah Mwangangi Saolo and Luke Kibet, were far ahead of Pence and over halfway to the finish line when the volunteer bicyclist mistakenly went straight instead of turning right, diverting them off course and leading to their disqualification, according to the QC Times.
Illinois man unexpectedly won the Quad Cities Marathon when the two Kenyan runners who had far outpaced him were disqualified after being diverted off the course by a race volunteer bicyclist. https://t.co/izGNBYNHWU
— ABC News (@ABC) September 28, 2021
Saolo was on a near-record pace before the incident, the outlet reported. He has reportedly been training in New Mexico and trying to earn enough money to stay in the U.S. with his wife and children.
Race director Joe Moreno confirmed that the bicyclist went the wrong way but said the course was well marked and the two runners should have known not to follow him, according to The Associated Press. (RELATED: Runner Morhad Amdouni Knocks Water Away From His Competitors During Marathon)
“The signage is well-displayed,” Moreno told the AP. “The volunteers are there. And the fourth element is those elite runners have a meeting the day before to get familiar with the course.”
The cyclist accepted accountability for the mistake, telling the QC Times that he “messed up royally.”
Moreno told the QC Times he hopes that the race committee can learn from this mistake.
“The responsibility falls on (the bicyclist) to know the course,’’ Moreno told the outlet. “The responsibility falls on the chairman of those bicyclists … That’s not acceptable. Our volunteers have to be better trained or qualified.”
He added it was very likely the race committee would do something to compensate both Saolo and Kibet, the QC Times reported.
“I don’t want this to be a total loss for them…’’ he told the outlet. “As race director, I feel somewhat responsible … It’s very likely we’re going to compensate them. Today.’’