(Reuters) – The world’s elite athletes may think twice before employing Reuban Kipyego as a marathon pacemaker again, after the Kenyan had a late change of heart in a recent race and kicked on for a bizarre victory.
The 23-year-old had been due to drop out of last Friday’s Abu Dhabi Marathon after 30km, but clearly his competitive spirit — and the lure of a $100,000 prize — got the better of him.
“For me, the conditions were ideal and the course was beautiful,” Kipyego smiled after the unconventional win.
“I’m already looking forward to returning to Abu Dhabi to defend my title,” he added, cheekily.
Pacemakers generally drop out before the finish line but are allowed to finish the race if they choose to do so.
Kipyego, who had been wearing a numberless bib with the words “Pace M2” denoting his role, finished with a negative split, running the second half of the race faster than the first, to win in 2:04.40 — the fastest time of his life.
While unusual, Kipyego’s feat is not a first. American pacemaker Paul Pilkington won the Los Angeles Marathon in 1994, while Kenya’s Simon Biwott accomplished the same feat at the Berlin Marathon in 2000.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)