No visa means no return for Grandma's Marathon champion

Thu, 18 June 2009 - 12:53 p.m. MT
Credit: Kevin Pates - Duluth News Tribune

Defending Grandma’s Marathon men’s champion Lamech Mokono of Kenya was officially scratched from Saturday’s field Wednesday because his petition for a professional athlete visa was not completed.

Mokono, 28, had previously traveled to the United States on a B-1 tourist visa, which lasts 6-12 months, said Scott Robinson, Mokono’s agent and coach, who directs the AmeriKenyan Running Club in Santa Fe, N.M. A P-1 professional athlete visa is issued in increments of one to five years.

The visa process is conducted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, and has become lengthier in the past year, Robinson said. A final piece of documentation was requested this week for Mokono and he’s expected to be granted the visa in two or three weeks, which will be issued through the American consulate in Nairobi, and he expects to race in America later this year.

“The level of security is higher than it’s been before and the Department of Homeland Security is being extremely thorough,” Robinson said. “This has been very disappointing for Lamech because he was looking forward to defending his championship at Grandma’s. We look at Grandma’s Marathon as one of the best races in the United States.”

Kenya native David Tuwei, 30, who finished second in the 2008 Grandma’s Marathon, is the top returnee and leads a large group of Kenyan entrants, which includes Christopher Toroitich, 28, whose goal is to run under 2:10 in 2009.

Mokono wasn’t the only elite athlete withdrawing from Grandma’s Marathon. Six runners in the men’s field, all from Kenya, contacted race officials saying they couldn’t make it to Duluth, four because of visa problems.

Those unable to obtain visas were Benson Cheruiyot (third last year), Christopher Kipkering, Haron Bor and John Tubei.



Latest News
Luxury Cruise Fitness: It Can Be Done
Luxury Cruise Fitness: It Can Be Done

Aug 02 1:02 p.m.

Article by: Jeff Venables

Comrades Ultra - Loose and Fun = Success
Comrades Ultra - Loose and Fun = Success

Jun 04 12:26 p.m.

Article by: Rick Ganzi, M.D.

Young Milers in Anaheim CA love running
Young Milers in Anaheim CA love running

May 15 3:03 p.m.

Article by: Jeff Venables

Catch Them If You Can
Catch Them If You Can

Apr 08 7:22 p.m.

Article by: Jeff Venables

New Roles of Sports Chiropractic
New Roles of Sports Chiropractic

Feb 21 11:15 a.m.

Article by: Jeff Venables