Kenyan Dies Soon After Leading Marathon


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Geoffrey Tarno was leading Kenyan race with 2K to go.

Geoffrey Tarno, a father of four, was leading the Kimbilio Hospice Marathon in Kenya with two kilometers remaining on Sunday when he collapsed and died before an ambulance carrying him could reach a hospital. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

As The Star and other African media outlets are reporting, Tarno had been in a front-running pack in the early going before he broke away and took the lead.

Tarno, 30, was from a village in Kenya’s Nandi County and is described as  a “marathoner” in news accounts although no race results for him were reported, and his only previous race mentioned is the 2009 Kass Marathon in Eldoret in the Rift Valley, which he failed to finish. Tarno was a member of Kibiswet Athletics Club in Eldoret. According to his coach, James Seurei, he had been running for four years and “he was fit for the race and had trained well for Kimbilio Marathon [and] hence was physically okay.”

There are a growing number of road races in Kenya. Runners such as Tarno, who appears never to have raced outside of Kenya, hope that a strong performance will attract the attention of world-class Kenyans or foreign coaches and agents, who might then help the aspiring runners race overseas.

The Kimbilio Hospice Marathon is staged by Living Room International, which provides shelter and treatment for seriously ill children and adults, including HIV/AIDS patients. Living Room International’s Managing Director, Joel Sawe, says the cause of Tarno’s death has yet to be established.

The marathon was organized by Keino Sports and licensed by Athletics Kenya. AK Central Rift Chairman Abraham Mutai commented, “We just want to know if there was negligence or it was just an unfortunate incident. We are taking this matter very seriously.” An independent investigation regarding Tarno’s death will be undertaken.

Keino Sports Marketing Director Martin Keino said that there were more than 2,000 bottles of water along the Kimbilio Marathon route, a challenging course with uphills and long downhills. Keino added, “All the athletes signed a form absolving the organizer from any liability in case of an incident.”

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