He died doing what he lived for and he will be laid to rest in the country he loved.
That was the heart rendering message the International Athletics Consultancy (IAC) delivered after the tragic death of their manager and leading athletes’ representative, Zane Branson.
Tributes continued to pour in as the athletics fraternity struggled to come to terms with the sudden demise of one of the most respected agents as details emerged of his last moments before he collapsed and then passed away in Iten.
“We were to meet and run together in our long run but his group went out before. When I got to the meeting point we had agreed, I thought they had decided to continue without us before I received the sad news,” Wilson Chebet, the 2014 Boston Marathon runners-up and one of his clients told Capital Sport.
“Words cannot describe what our group is going through. He was not only a manager but a friend and a mentor,” Chebet who finished third in Boston in April in 2:10:22 added.
A statement from IAC on Saturday night said, “With sense of shock and disbelief we are reaching out to inform you that our Zane Branson has passed away earlier today (Saturday) in Iten, Kenya.
“Zane enjoyed this Saturday morning. He decided to walk to a meeting point for 40km long run he was to observe and on his way he brainstormed, joked, planned and greeted athletes running by.
“He passed away suddenly, doing what he loved and in those short and final moments of his rich life Zane was not alone. Zane is to be laid to rest in his bellowed Kenya and we shall communicate more information related to place, date and time in days to come.”
“Today’s tragic event casts a shadow on overly successful trip during which IAC implemented major developments to Adidas Marathon Athlete Development Program and Adidas RunCzech Racing Program.
“We will continue to work tirelessly for the benefit of clients, events clients are competing in and running media – celebrating Zane’s passion and commitment to the good our sport is made of. Rest In Peace Zane Branson, you will be missed,” the statement signed by the firm’s officials, Edward Yego, EvgeniiaZghir, Nikola Stanic, Julien Di Maria and Davor Savija said.
“His parents who are over 90 have given their blessings for him to be laid to rest in a country he dearly loved. We shall continue making plans with assistance from other agents, athletes and people of goodwill for his burial,” Chebet told Capital Sport.
The post-mortem to establish the cause of death will be conducted Monday in Eldoret where the body was removed after the tragic incident.
-Echoes of Lisoreng-
This is the second tragedy to hit the IAC group in successive years following the sudden demise of their athlete, Pamera Lisoreng in March 2014 collapsed and died after training in Eldoret in incidents that eerily mirrored each other.
Lisoreng who was 25, had just finished her morning run and was heading home when she was suddenly taken ill before she was pronounced dead on arrival at an Eldoret hospital.
“Pamela finished earlier today (Saturday) her run and on her way back home she suddenly collapsed and was pronounced dead by the time she reached the hospital in Eldoret. No further information is available at this stage,” Branson wrote in a statement sent to media the following day after her death.
“Pamela’s husband, Boniface Kirui, young son, family, friends and numerous athletes have lost wonderful spouse, mother, loved one and friend. Her gentle nature and warm smile are what is to live with us in these days of mourning and forever,” he added.
Now, destiny has brought athlete and manager together in the afterlife where they will no doubt relish in the sport they lived and died for.
Mutwiri is a winner of the Sport Award at the 2008 CNN Africa Journalist Awards. He is a student of Communications at the University of Nairobi and holds a diploma in Mass Communication from KIMC.