This is about a local marathon in Asia. The cash prize was about $300 for overall 1st place, and $100 for 1st place in your respective age group. They only had prizes for 1st-3rd prizes. Basically an unregistered defending champion who was simply invited back snatched the top prize, while my Kenyan friend, who expected to get the $300 in the local hobby jogger race, had to settle for $100.
I registered a 3rd-tier Kenyan runner who is a student living in the country. We are just buddies, and I am not an agent or sports manager. He asked me to register him in this race since he could not register for another marathon due to its being filled up. Given that on most years the race has only slower amateur runners running over 3 hours and no elite runners, we figured that he would get first place easily and win the $300.
I'm not going to list any specific names, locations, or events to avoid making anyone mad or "lose face" (a big deal in Asia). But I would like to know if what they did is standard practice and if I should call them out for it.
1. Elite European runner won the local marathon last year. So this year, they invited him back and he did not even have to register. His bib only had his name on it. No one expected he would actually come back.
2. Online registration opens for one hour, and it fills up super fast. I register my Kenyan friend for the marathon since he is not that good at doing super fast online registration and has to attend class during registration time.
3. They then post the full list of online registrants online. The defending champion was not in there.
4. Race day comes. Just a few days before the marathon, they announce on Facebook that two defending champions will be back this year, and posted their photos too.
5. Defending champion comes back and runs faster than my Kenyan friend. Kenyan guy ends up with $100, while the winner gets the $300. The winner is pretty well-off and flies all over the world running ultras and trail races as part of his lifestyle. On the other hand, the Kenyan is living in poverty and struggling to pay tuition and send money to his mother and siblings back in Kenya. The extra $200 would have made a huge different for him and helped him with food and basic survival. The European winner did not really need the money and he said he just ran the race for fun. I talked to the winner and became good friends with him. He deserved what he got, but I did feel quite sorry for my Kenyan friend, who had to spend about $50 in travel costs just to get to the race and back home to his residence, which was a full days' train ride away from the race location. He said he wanted eventually to pay me back the marathon registration fee ($30), but I refused.
The problem here is that for months, my Kenyan friend and I expected that no one would beat him, because the full list of runners was online. I Googled the names on the list and found that every single guy was a hobby jogger. No elite names or African names were on there. We basically placed a bet that he was going to win $300 since the list of registered runners did not have any Africans or elite runners.
But then some unregistered guy shows up and snatches the prize. Should I call the race director out for this?