Marathon winner disqualified for taking water from father in California race

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Marathon winner disqualified for taking water from father in California race

Festus Chuma 11:44 - 11.05.2024

Runner Esteban Prado was disqualified from the Orange County Marathon for receiving water from his father

A father's simple act of handing a water bottle to his son during a marathon has led to disqualification and controversy in California's Orange County Marathon.

Esteban Prado, 24, who had initially triumphed with a leading time of 2:24:54, found himself stripped of his victory due to a technical rule violation.

The incident unfolded when Prado accepted water from his father, who was riding alongside him on a bicycle. 

This act, though seemingly benign, contravened the U.S.A. Track & Field regulations, which stipulate that marathon runners can only receive refreshments from officially authorized personnel at designated stations. 

The New York Times reported that Prado's disqualification was due to receiving "unauthorized assistance."

"The U.S.A. Track & Field rule book is clear that refreshment can only be taken from official refreshment stations on the course," said Garu Kutschar, the director of the Orange County Marathon. 

"A competitor who collects refreshment from a place other than a refreshment station is liable to disqualification by the referee."

Prado was informed of his disqualification after celebrations had already begun. 

The call came from Kutschar, who relayed that a competitor had reported seeing Prado take a water bottle from someone not affiliated with the race’s official stations. 

"We were forced to disqualify a participant after it was confirmed they received unauthorized assistance," Kutschar added.

In an interview with ABC News’ Los Angeles station KABC, Prado expressed his disappointment and confusion over the rule. 

"The only person that could see me within range was second place," Prado remarked, suggesting that his closest competitor might have been the one to report the incident. 

"You get no money or anything. You know, if [the second-place] wanted that congratulations for that first place, if he really felt like he needed it, it's just for him at the end of the day."

Despite his disqualification, Prado remains defiant and satisfied with his performance. 

"I really got nothing out of it. I know I won," he stated, highlighting his frustration but acceptance of the outcome.

This event has sparked a broader discussion about the rules governing marathons and whether they might sometimes undermine the spirit of the sport.

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