Luis Agustin Esriche wins Mitja Marato Kaki

Luis pulls a fast one in Valencia

Time wasting tactics by Spanish athlete goes viral

Always on the lookout for the unusual or controversial, we bring you the bizarre story of the Spanish athlete who won the 7th Mitja Marathon del Kaki in Valencia but refused to cross the finish line for almost 30 seconds! 

Mitja Marathon del Kaki is actually a half marathon named after the Kaki Persimmon fruit trees that grow in the Province of Valencia. There were 661 finishers in this year's race on Sunday (2 October) and 31-year-old Spanish athlete Luis Agustin Esriche finished well ahead of the pack. However, this 41-second video on Twitter shows the remarkable finish as Esriche slows down, then stops short of the tape, checks his watch, and even indicates to an official that he was not ready to cross the line:

There was a cash prize of €150 for a new course record and according to local press reports Esriche didn't want to beat the time by too much so that he had a sporting chance of returning next year and picking up another €150!

He might have a sporting chance of another bonus but was this sporting behaviour? Esriche (PB 1:05:30) knew he could break the course record of 1:09:20 and arrived at the finish in an estimated 1:08:15 before his time-wasting actions resulted in an official time of 1:08:45, and a very useful payday.

The women's champion Patry Lorena Montalvo Itas (1:23:40) also collected €150 for a new course record but she didn't have the luxury of a time cushion like Esriche as she only ducked under the previous best by a single second. Unless, of course, she was on an extremely high-risk strategy...!

The video of the odd finish has gone viral and started a lively debate. Did Esriche do anything wrong? Did he break any rules? Some have suggested his actions were akin to a pole vaulter deliberately adding a single centimetre to the world record so they can look forward to further rewards. 

Meanwhile, others have noted there was no suggestion that Eliud Kipchoge was holding back when he broke the world marathon record by 30 seconds in Berlin – coincidentally the same amount of time that Esriche wasted at the finish in Valencia recently.

What do you think? Would you pull such a stunt if you had the talent?

Image of Luis Agustin Esriche courtesy Mitja Marato Kaki on Facebook

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