Kenya’s marathon stars struggle with loss of their mentor


Kenya’s decorated marathon stars are struggling to come to grips with the death of their manager and mentor Zane Branson as it emerged on Tuesday that the American will be buried in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, on August 15.

Multiple Amsterdam Marathon champion Wilson Chebet, who along with former world marathon record holder Patrick Makau was among Branson’s elite runners, on Tuesday said the manager’s family had consented to his Iten burial.

Branson died last Saturday during a morning run in Iten, just a week after he had arrived in Kenya to meet with his athletes and watch this weekend’s trials for the IAAF World Championships at Kasarani. Chebet said a committee has been constituted and is finalising on Branson’s burial site.

(READ: Kenyan athletes mourn veteran athletes manager Zane Branson)

“We have formed a committee and plans to find a good plot in Iten town where Zane will be laid to rest are fast getting underway,” an emotional Chebet, who completed a three-peat victory at the Amsterdam Marathon in 2011, 2012 and 2013, said at the Nation Eldoret offices. “We could not find a more decent way of sending him off. He had this special relationship with us and we were like a family. “We had to plead with his family to give us the go-ahead to lay him here. We will also set up a monument at the graveyard,” said Chebet who also won the Rotterdam Marathon in 2011 in a season’s best 2:05.27.


Branson was an American citizen and chief executive of the International Athletics Consultancy, a company headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic. Makau, Commonwealth Games 10,000 metres champion Joyce Jepkirui and two-time World Cross Country Championship gold medallist Emily Chebet are the other top athletes in the Branson stable. Branson’s body is at the Eldoret Hospital’s mortuary.

The hospital’s pathologist W.W. Nalyanya’s post-mortem report released on Tuesday said Branson died of “sudden cardiac death.”