This is a story about an error in a race, and how it was amicably worked out. Justin Lagat did a nice job with this piece, reminding us that, as with most situations, communication can work out many of the mistakes that happen in our lives.
A short interview with the defending champion of Kassel Marathon who got misled by the lead vehicle and got disqualified on Sunday’s race.
Mistakes happen everywhere, every time. But how the mistakes are handled is what makes all the difference. After months of hard training and preparations, then after battling for the better part of a marathon race, the lead car sends elite athletes the wrong way ending their dreams just like that. But, the race organizer talked with them after the misfortune and all reached an amicable solution.
The drama unfolded this weekend, the 1st of October in Germany. With about fourteen kilometers to go, the men’s leading pack at the Kassel Marathon that still remained with only five athletes. The lead pack, including the defending champion, Edwin Kosgei got misled.
“I was feeling great and had the course record fixed on my mind. The pace was good and I was waiting patiently to cross the 35km mark before I could make a move and see who else would have the strength to go with me,” said the defending champion.
However, Kosgei’s dreams were cut short when at around the 33km mark, the race organizer appeared ahead of them and used a megaphone to announce to them that they had been disqualified from the race and that they should feel free to stop. He also told them they were going to talk about it.
At that point, the leading pack was comprised of only Kosgei and two other athletes. Two others had fallen behind but were still following.
Asked whether he had suspected at some point that they were off course, the perplexed Kosgei said he never noticed anything wrong as his mind was focused completely on the race.
“Nothing seemed amiss. We had the lead car, our water bottles on the tables ahead of us and athletic fans were cheering us along the course. Everything looked like it should look in a marathon race. No one even attempted to stop or re-direct us,” Kosgei said. “Not until the race organizer made the announcement at around the 33km point.”
Kosgei however feels that the race organizer handled the case well with them and that they understood and were satisfied after they all talked and reached a consensus.
“We were later told that we missed a turning point at around the 28km point. We did talk with the race organizer and he did agree to take care of our travel expenses to the race and compensate us partially for the prize money we would have won,” said Kosgei.
Germany’s Maciek Miereczko ran 2:27:39 on the right course becoming the men’s winner of the 2017 Kassel marathon and the first ever German to win the race. His name is already listed on the Wikipedia’s list of all time winners, but an asterisk has been put before his name. The explanation for the asterisk on the Wikipedia page is that “the lead group were disqualified after being sent the wrong way at the nineteenth kilometer.”
Talking with the tired Kosgei as he arrived at Eldoret from the long trip back home, he is still trying to comprehend fully all that really happened to cost him a win he had prepared so well and had seen it so close. All he needed as I talked with him was to get home and sleep.