AK demands answers from Warsaw Marathon organisers

Tuesday September 26 2017

Kenya's Recho Kosgei (centre) is assisted by paramedics after collapsing on her way to victory in the 39th PZU Warsaw Marathon on September 24, 2017. PHOTO | WARSAW MARATHON |


Athletics Kenya will write a protest letter demanding for answers from the Warsaw Marathon organisers after Kenyan Recho Kosgei athlete failed to get urgent medical attention after she collapsed a few metres to the finish line.

AK senior vice president Paul Mutwii expressed shock that there were no medical personnel at the vicinity despite the race being an International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) bronze label event.

The organisers of Warsaw Marathon, held Sunday, have come under heavy criticism after they failed to assist Kosgei, who collapsed with only 800m to the finish line.

“We shall demand for answers from the organisers since the route is supposed to be marked well with medical personnel at designated sections,” said Mutwii. “The athlete is seen trying to raise hands seeking help and it’s shocking that it took time before she could get help yet it’s the last section of the race.”


Mutwii, who is the director in charge of competitions, said that they will also take up the issue with IAAF adding that they will not clear Kenyans to compete in the race if no good explanation is given.


Kosgei, 32, was leading the women’s race by almost three minutes, and is seen in a widely shared video, struggling to stay on her feet as she collapsed several times with no one to assist.

Kosgei, who finished second at Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon last year, is seen wobbling from side to side on the Polish capital’s roads in the final mile, occasionally turning her head around for almost two minutes. She saw nobody in the distance behind her.

The athlete eventually, slowly, collapsed to the pavement about 2 hours, 30 minutes into the 42km race in the video clip that went viral.

As she struggled to get up, two runners finally approached two-and-half minutes later. Kosgei, who is with Volare Sports Management, has personal best 2:30:09 from Barcelona Marathon in March this year, where she finished fifth.

The first was Slovakian Marek Hladik, in 10th place in the men’s race, who stopped and put his hand out in an attempt to lift Kosgei off the road. He appeared to try and communicate with her for a few seconds, but she remained on the ground.


As this was going on, Ethiopian Bekelu Beji strode past both of them and went on to win the women’s race in 2:35:08.

Kosgei did not finish the race and was eventually treated by medical personnel, according to Polish media.

In a quick rejoinder, Warsaw Marathon Foundation said in a statement said that IAAF rules don’t allow organisers to intervene unless the athlete risked disqualification.

“According to the rules of IAAF, helping her would mean automatic disqualification and wasting all the effort of the day,” said Jarosław Zakrzewski, an official from Warsaw Marathon Foundation Press Office.

The statement said that the athlete was conscious, and her life was not in danger.

“Since the athlete did not signal that she wants to give up, the marathon staff standing on the side of the road and in the lead vehicle that stopped in front of her monitored the situation. An ambulance was called immediately,” said the statement.

A statement released by the athletes management Volare Sports, said Kosgei missed her bottles at the 30km, 35km and 40km mark during the race, which might have contributed to her dehydration.

Polish Blazej Brzezinski crossed the line in 2:11:26 to win the men’s race, taking 51 seconds off his personal best. Kenya’s Justus Kiprotich held on for second place in 2:11:51 with another Kenyan Silas Kipngetich taking third in 2:13:30.

Former Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir said even though it’s not proper to assist an athlete finish the race, Kosgei’s case was different. “This beyond acceptable although it’s illegal for a race official to help a runner. I think there comes a time when logic takes over @iaaforg,” said Korir on his Twitter handle @weskorir.

“Why would an @iaaforg Bronze Label event allow such travesty ? What if she were a local athlete? Would she be left fighting for her life?” Tweeted sports journalist Saddique Shaban‏.

“Cases of athletes dying in road races, mostly amateurs, have been on a rise. But this was no amateur athlete,” said Shaban.