Tyler Pence won the Quad Cities Marathon this weekend when two Kenyan runners who had far outpaced him were disqualified after being diverted off the course by a race volunteer bicyclist.
Pence crossed the finish line in 2:15.06 to become the first U.S. runner since 2001 to win the race. The head track and cross-country coach at the University of Illinois-Springfield, Pence logged his fastest time ever with the win. His time is the third best in the history of the event and earned him the first prize of $3,000.
It came after Elijah Mwangangi Saolo and Luke Kibet diverted from the course a little more than halfway to the finish line when the bicycle rider leading them mistakenly went straight when he should have turned.
Elijah Mwangangi Saolo and Luke Kibet were left to wonder what might have been had they not diverted from the course on Arsenal Island, a little more than halfway to the finish line.
Saolo and Kibet were far out in front of Pence and the rest of the pack as they came down Rodman Avenue on the island. But the bicycle rider leading them through the course mistakenly went straight on Rodman when he should have turned, and the two Kenyans followed him.
Race director Joe Moreno confirmed that the bicyclist went the wrong way.
As Moreno explained the mistake to Saolo and Kibet near the finish line, the bicyclist stood nearby on the brink of tears.
“I messed up royally,’’ he muttered.
Moreno said he needed to look at video of the mistake but said it was very likely the race would do something for both Saolo and Kibet.
“I don’t want this to be a total loss for them so I think there is going to be some compensation for them,’’ he said. “That shows that we are taking some responsibility ourselves. As race director, I feel somewhat responsible … It’s very likely we’re going to compensate them Today.’’
He said he and his race committee would learn from the mistake.
“The responsibility falls on (the bicyclist) to know the course,’’ Moreno added. “The responsibility falls on the chairman of those bicyclists … That’s not acceptable.
“Our volunteers have to be better trained or qualified. We just can’t have any bicyclists any more. We’re going to have some qualifying standards to have that responsible position … We learn from this experience.’’
Kuwait’s Alali Mo Abdulmohsen finished in second place while Philemon Terer of Kenya, who was seeking his fourth Quad Cities title, placed fifth.
Saolo was on a near-record pace before his mishap occurred. He is the grandson of Joseph Nzau, a Kenya running legend who won the Quad-City Times Bix 7 twice in the 1980s.