Orange County Marathon winner stripped of title

Esteban Prado won the Orange County Marathon with a time of two hours, 24 minutes and 54 seconds. However, his first-place finish didn’t count.

Prado, 24, had his title stripped for violating race rules after spectators and runners noticed that his father allegedly rode along the 26.2-mile course on a bicycle and gave him water, officials said.

A race spokesperson said the Prado “was receiving nutrition during the men’s championship race.”

Race organizers began to investigate and were able to corroborate the allegation through video and photos that showed Prado getting help from two people on bicycles. One person was giving Prado water and nutrition while the other was feeding him information about the runners behind him.

Marathon Winner Stripped
Marathon Winner Stripped

The Fountain Valley man was disqualified Sunday, shortly after being named the winner.

“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.”

A race organizer who wished to remain anonymous said Prado, when confronted with the evidence, claimed he had to do this, saying water stations weren’t yet set up.

Race officials spoke with operations teams and determined water stations were set up in time. Runners are also allowed to carry their own water during the race.

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The new winner is Jason Yang of San Pedro, who finished the marathon in two hours, 25 minutes and 11 seconds: 17 seconds behind Prado.

Yang spoke with KTLA about what he witnessed during the race, “I saw a biker next to him, and then give him fluids. It looks like one of those flasks that has fuel in them.”

When asked if he was excited to be the winner, Yang said, “It’s a different feeling. It doesn’t feel as good as a normal win should feel. I think this is getting blown out of proportion.”

Prado, through his mother, responded to a request for comment by saying he has moved on from the race.

There is no prize money for winning the OC Hoag Marathon, and times don’t qualify runners for the Olympics.

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