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Kemboi abandons Gauteng marathon plans

Shadrack Kemboi of Kenya will not return for next month's Gauteng Marathon, according to his manager, after he was allegedly poorly treated following his impressive victory in last year's race.

Cuan Walker, who oversees the professional Maxed Elite team, said on Saturday the race organisers had lashed out at him and his athlete after the 2013 event.

Walker said the 28-year-old East African runner, who was second at the 2012 Zurich Marathon, had never before received such poor treatment by the organisers of a major race.

“There was nothing at the finish in terms of hospitality for someone who has won the race, something Shadrack is used to when he races in Europe,” Walker said.

“We waited around for a long time with no info regarding when prize giving would be held, so I took Shadrack from the stadium to get food.

“I then got a call from the organiser (Nhlanhla Ngwenya) who screamed in my ear and asked why Shadrack was not at the prize giving, as it stipulated in the entry form the time it would be held, which it actually did not.

“He told me I was unprofessional and a disgrace and threatened that he would find a way to disqualify my athlete for not being at the prize giving.”

Kemboi was not disqualified and received his R250 000 prize money, despite the alleged threats from the organisers.

Immediately after crossing the line in 2:14:02, more than two minutes clear of South African Benedict Moeng, Kemboi had said he would be back for the 2014 race.

Walker confirmed, however, that he had changed his mind after the treatment he had received.

Last year’s event, which attracted more than 6 000 athletes, was delayed by more than half an hour due to transport problems, as runners were left stranded at Johannesburg Stadium when the race was scheduled to begin, waiting for transport to take them to the start in Krugersdorp.

Despite the forced delay, hundreds of entrants did not make it in time for the start, and were still on buses when the gun was fired.

“Shadrack had to warm up three times due to the start being delayed,” Walker said.

“We are purposely not going back to the race this year because of these factors.”

Ngwenya, the chief executive of race organisers Ultimate Sporting Concepts, said last year the Putco buses they had ordered did not arrive in time, and a different service provider would be used this year.

Ngwenya was not available for comment on Saturday.

Local athlete Mapaseka Makhanya, who won the women’s race on debut last season in 2:37:06, confirmed this week she would be back for the 2014 event, which takes place on September 7.

The Gauteng Marathon forms part of the Gauteng Sports Challenge, an initiative launched by the provincial government in 2012, which also includes annual rugby and football tournaments.

The event offers one of the largest prize purses of any road race in the country, attracting some of South Africa’s best athletes, as well as elite foreign runners.


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