Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Who Knew That Distance Runners Would Be Bad At Social Distancing?

Marathon champion Wilson Kipyang was arrested for breaking coronavirus curfew.
Marathon champion Wilson Kipyang was arrested for breaking coronavirus curfew.
Photo: Getty

Marathon runners are some of the only athletes who can go about their business right now with minimal interruption. While marathons have been canceled or postponed all over the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it remains possible to train, as even Dr. Anthony Fauci continues to get some miles in.

Of course, runners still can get into trouble, which happened on Monday when a dozen runners were arrested in Iten, Kenya, for “training in a group against a government order on social distancing.” Those runners were released on Wednesday, The Standard reported, “after committing, in writing, that they would adhere to measures being taken to combat the viral disease.”

There are runners, though, and then there are elite runners. Wilson Kipsang, a former world record holder, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, and New York, London, and Berlin marathon winner, has once again shown that he’s just at a different level.


Kipsang was arrested Thursday night in Iten as part of a large group, including a local ward representative, after The Standard reported “they were found drinking alcohol in a popular club,” which they had “locked themselves inside … against orders requiring Kenyans not to get out of their homes after 7 p.m.”

The group remained in custody at the Iten police station on Friday morning, Kenya Citizen TV reported, and if authorities have their way, Kipsang and his drinking buddies could be in serious trouble. Police commander John Mwinzi told Daily Nation, “It’s unfortunate that police, instead of arresting ordinary offenders are forced to go for people of respected stature in the society who engage in mischief, despite knowing well what they are supposed to do. Those are people who should be assisting us (to) enforce this simple rule but ironically are in the first line of offenders.”

While many western reports on Kipsang said he is “also a police officer,” that was only his job before becoming a full-time runner, according to a 2014 Spikes profile. More recently, Kipsang has found himself on the wrong side of the law, both in and out of sports.

Kipsang was provisionally suspended from competition in January for failing to tell drug testers his whereabouts and tampering with samples. That was just a month after Kipsang wrecked his Toyota Prado about 10 miles outside of Iten, in a crash with a truck — he reportedly is suspected of having been drunk at the time.


The suspension means Kipsang won’t miss any training opportunities for serious competition as he waits to learn the consequences of his curfew breaking. Kenya Citizen TV reported the possibility of curfew breakers being put into government quarantine for 14 days before any legal actions proceed — even the former marathon record holder and the politician.

What a concept, holding people accountable for their actions regardless of, or even because of, their stature in the public eye.

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