• Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

O.C. Marathon winner Esteban Prado disqualified: Dad gave him water

O.C. Marathon winner Esteban Prado disqualified: Dad gave him water

A father sees that his son is thirsty. Very, very thirsty. So he hands a bottle of water to his grateful offspring, who takes a slug.

Is that so wrong?

Well, yes, it is a rules violation during a marathon, and it resulted in Esteban Prado being disqualified Sunday as the winner of the Orange County Marathon. Prado led for most of the 26.2-mile course and finished in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 54 seconds.

It’s called unauthorized assistance in marathon lingo — runners can only get water at official hydration stations — and apparently the fact that Prado’s father pulled alongside him on a bicycle to hand him the water made the violation a double no-no.

“We were forced to disqualify a participant after it was confirmed they received unauthorized assistance from an individual on a bicycle, in violation of USA Track & Field rules and our race regulations,” race director Gary Kutscher said. “We take these rules seriously to ensure fairness and the integrity of our event for all competitors.”

The incident called to mind two other disqualifications, including one 10 years ago, also in the O.C. Marathon.

The brother of runner-up Stephan Shay produced a video of race winner Mohamed Fadil having a friend on a bicycle ride alongside him. Kutscher, who has been race director since 2009, disqualified Fadil because in addition to supplying water, the bike buddy provided illegal pacing.

“We were able to see that yes, in fact, the bicyclist was illegally pacing, if you will,” Kutscher said. As a result, I determined this was something that needed to be overturned and put Stephan Shay as our winner.”

The video was taken by Stephan Shay’s brother Nathan, who also confronted the bicyclist about breaking the rules.

To which the bicyclist replied, “Why don’t you relax, buddy. Just because your brother got beat.”

The Shays got the last word, with Stephan taking home the first-place medal and $4,000 prize.

More was at stake last November when Ethan Hermann finished the Philadelphia Marathon in 2:17:03, nearly a minute under the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying mark of 2:18:00. Yet Hermann, who was running in his first marathon, was disqualified and denied a shot at the Olympic Trials because his coach handed him a water bottle at a hydration station.

Only designated volunteers are allowed to do that. It may seem petty, but the rule is in place to help ensure runners aren’t given a liquid that might contain something that enhances performance.

“I ran my first marathon in front of my favorite city in the world, my family, my friends, my second family, and so many people who treat me like family,” Hermann posted on Instagram. “I had the most special day and I ran my heart and legs out.

“With that being said, as a first-time marathoner there comes a learning curve. I was not as educated as I thought about everything, not all the right things happened the way they needed to and I was ultimately given a disqualification from the race.”

As for the O.C. Marathon on Sunday, the winner now is Jason Yang of San Pedro with a time of 2:25.11.

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