California marathon winner disqualified for receiving water from dad during race

The disqualified winner received unauthorized assistance from someone on a bike during the race, according to race officials.

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A runner from Fountain Valley, California, was disqualified Sunday as winner of the OC Marathon for taking water from his father during a grueling race that he led for most of the 26.2-mile course.

Esteban Prado, who spent months training for the marathon, received water from a spectator — his dad — in violation of a rule that participants can only get water at official hydration stations.



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"During yesterday’s Hoag OC Marathon, we were forced to disqualify a participant after it was confirmed they received unauthorized assistance from an individual on a bicycle, in violation of USA Track & Field rules and our race regulations," race director Gary Kutschar said in a statement. "We take these rules seriously to ensure fairness and the integrity of our event for all competitors.”

Jason Yang of San Pedro was declared the men's marathon winner in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 11 seconds.

Prado said he is relatively new to marathon running, but had high hopes entering Sunday's race after months of rigorous preparation.

"About like a three- to four-month period of just 100-mile week trainings," Prado said. "Just kind of balancing that with work, and also just including that in the weekend.

Prado led for most of the 26.2-mile course.

“Because I was first place, a lot of the volunteers were just like scrambling," Prado said. "By the time I got there, they were... grabbing the water. So a lot of the time the water stations, they really had nothing for me.”

Prado said he wasn't aware that receiving water from a spectator, family in this case, was not allowed.

Yang crossed the line 17 seconds after Prado.

In her first marathon, Gabriella Smith of Lynchburg, Virginia was the women's winner in 3:05:30, 12 seconds ahead of Annika Mellquist of Gardena.

The race served as the national championship for the Road Runners Club of America, the nation's oldest and largest distance running organization. The event drew 3,500 entrants.

There were seven water/hydration stations on the front half of the course and another eight stations on the second half, according to the marathon's web site. Electrolyte drinks were available at some of the stations.

The marathon course began in front of the VEA Marriott Resort Hotel & Spa and ended at the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa.

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