QC Marathon Race Director: ‘It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time for marathons’

Two elite men’s runners were disqualified during Sunday’s marathon after a bicyclist guide went the wrong direction
Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 11:31 PM CDT
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EAST MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) - All things considered, Quad Cities Marathon Race Director Joe Moreno was thrilled with the 2021 event.

“You know we had a great event, wonderful weather, no trains, great results, a lot of PR’s, everybody had a good time,” Moreno said.

However, during the men’s race of the marathon, frontrunners Elijah Mwangangi Saolo and Luke Kibet were in the lead just beyond the halfway point of the race when a volunteer bike rider guiding the elite group made a wrong turn. Saolo and Kibet followed the rider, off of what Moreno defined as a “well-marked” and “properly labeled” route onto the half-marathon route instead of the marathon route. Because they ran off the route, both runners were disqualified.

“Unfortunately one of our bicyclists made a bad turn and our two frontrunners took that turn,” Moreno said. ”It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time for marathons.”

Men’s winner Tyler Pence was roughly 20 seconds behind Saolo and Kibet when the disqualification happened. Pence finished with the 3rd fastest time in course history with a time of 2:15:06.

Pence took to Facebook Tuesday, sharing a picture after the race with Saolo and Kibet with the caption “Who would’ve ever thought I’d get ripped apart for making the right turn in a marathon. Here’s what the media won’t show, three guys who all have the upmost respect for each other. All three understand that these mistakes happen in road racing. All three got paid their award money. And all three wish each other luck in their future races!”

“He (Pence) won not by default, he ran a great race, and he was on record pace, he was on pace to break the record that we had,” Moreno said, “He deserved to win that, under those situations.”

As the winner, Pence won a cash prize of $3,000. After review, both Saolo and Kibet were rewarded with $2,000 each even with the disqualification. Moreno estimates all three runners would have finished in a high enough position to earn a cash prize barring the wrong turn.

“We compensated those two elite runners that made the bad turn, we didn’t have to do that, we could have easily said ‘well, you guys mad the bad turn, everything was well marked, you were in a course meeting the night before, it’s your fault’ we don’t want to do that,” Moreno said. “And we elected to compensate them for the mistake that our bicyclist made.”

Moreno added these mistakes happen often with long races like marathons.

‘You look at this like it was a bad situation but it could happen to happen to any race at any time,” Moreno said. “It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time for marathons.”

As for the bicyclist, Moreno said they were “remorseful” about the situation, and moving forward, the marathon said they will be more careful with selecting the volunteer guide.

“When you have 1,500 volunteers, that’s a lot of responsibility and you feel that you’ve trained them well enough that they know their responsibilities, that they’re going to do their job right but things happen out there,” Moreno said. ”All it takes is a split second wrong decision and this happens.”

“I just hope the community is respectful that these types of things happen,” Moreno said.

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