Kenyan runner takes horrific, controversial fall in Toronto, breaks femur

Agent says it was due to “an unfortunate knock with a jogger”

Flomena Chepchirchir awkwardly falls during the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Flomena Chepchirchir awkwardly falls during the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Instead of heading back to Kenya on Monday, elite runner Flomena Chepchirchir is in a Toronto hospital, waiting for surgery. The  33-year-old was involved in an awkward and controversial fall at roughly the 5K mark of Sunday’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

The lead group of elite women were making their way down Bathurst Street when the incident occurred. One cluster of runners, which included Canadian Lanni Marchant along with quick local age-group runners, was running along the right-hand side of the street. On the left side were the East African elites, along with their pacers.

When the pacers realized that the water station was along the right, they quickly began to move across a series of streetcar tracks to get their bottles. Chepchirchir was one of the last elites to transition from the left to right of the street and appears to have made contact with a local male runner, who, according to other runners in the group, was holding a straight line down the centre of the road. Chepchirchir then fell awkwardly and appeared to catch her left foot on a streetcar track.

The fall happens at roughly 1:02:00 of the broadcast, which can be seen here.

Volare Sports, the agency representing Chepchirchir, posted the following on their Facebook page:

Our dear Flomena Chepchirchir broke her left tigh [sic] bone today during the first few km of Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. An unfortunate knock with a jogger made her to be out of the race immediately. Mama Sammy, you have fought your way back this year after a challenging time and we are proud of your never ending spirit to fight and come back. Keep your positive attitude in there, Flo. We wish you a quick recovery.
Dear followers, give Flomena a ‘like’ to give her your wellwishes [sic].

Flomena Chepchirchir. Photo: Volare Sports Facebook page
Flomena Chepchirchir. Photo: Volare Sports Facebook page

Another Toronto runner that was with the group of lead women and was not involved in the contact turned back to aid the Kenyan after hearing what he described as a cracking sound” when she fell.

“It didn’t look or sound like a normal fall so I swung back and went up to her to see if she was OK.” When he approached her, she pointed to her leg which “looked severely injured.” “I saw a volunteer go up to her but knew she needed help as she was clearly in pain. I saw an ambulance to the north so I waved my arms and then started running back up the road to flag it down. A cyclist passed me and said they would get it. So I turned around and got back into the race.” He was asked not to be named in this article.

We contacted the runner who allegedly made contact with Chepchirchir. He also requested he remain anonymous and was reluctant to speak about the issue and said he was still haunted by the incident. “All I will say is that there was clearly some confusion about where the water station was [on the elite runners’ part]. I don’t think any of those women made it to the table.” He indicated that, although he does not feel as though he did anything wrong in the moment, that he felt badly about the incident. “My heart and prayers go out to her and I hope she is OK. I’ve replayed the moment on the live stream. It’s frustrating to watch.” An experienced road racer with a 2:33 marathon personal best, he dropped out of the race after Chepchirchir’s pacer accosted him.

Chepchirchir’s agent, Arien Verkade, indicated via email that she is waiting for surgery and is “doing better than yesterday.” Chepchirchir is expected to stay in a Toronto hospital for a few more days, before flying back to Kenya to recovery. It was not clear what sort of surgery will be required.

Streetcar tracks appear at multiple spots along the course, including the multiple kilometre stretch down Bathurst Street. They are not temporarily covered or filled for the event.