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Grand Iten send-off for Branson

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Joyce Chekurui (left) and the late Zane Branson, her manager who passed on in Eldoret on Saturday morning. PHOTO/Facebook

Joyce Chekurui (left) and the late Zane Branson, her manager who passed on in Eldoret on Saturday morning. PHOTO/Facebook

NAIROBI, July 29- The family of Zane Branson has accepted one of his final requests to be laid to rest in Iten, the Kenyan athletics hub he cherished on August 15.

His close associate at International Athletics Consultancy (IAC), David Savija, also informed Capital Sport the preliminary autopsy indicated heart attack as the cause of his sudden death at the self styled ‘University of Champions’ last Saturday.

“Zane is to be laid to rest at Kerio View on August 15. Exact time and other logistics are to be communicated in days to come. Over 1,500 mourners are expected.

“Family from the US, as well from friends from all over the world, will join us in saying good bye to Zane. August 15 was the date that worked for athletes, as well as it was appropriate for the family,” Savija responded to an email request from Capital Sport.

“Preliminary autopsy indicates heart attack.”

Branson collapsed and died in a chilly Saturday morning in Iten as they waited for another group led by Boston Marathon third finisher, Wilson Chebet, to join them to plan for the day’s programme.

His shocking demise has continued to draw tributes from around the world with a fitting send off planned to ensure he will always remain in a community he served selflessly served for decades.

“Zane was baptized in the Serbian Orthodox Church. Greek Orthodox Church is present in Kenya and according to the calendar of Greek Orthodox Church; August 15 is one of the biggest holidays – The Dormition of the Mother of God,” Savija added.

-Fine touch-

“Zane was a man with a fine touch and attention to detail; and he was fully and completely devoted to athletes, and not only to those he worked with.

“Athlete Management in East Africa was not only a business for Zane, it was a calling and a platform for a rich life, sacrifice and dreams,” his associate was quoted in globerunner.org.

“The Athletics Kenya fraternity is deeply saddened by the news of the passing on of manager Zane Branson on 25/7/2015. Branson was a manager to some of our athletes.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to his family. May God give you the comfort and peace that you seek and may the soul of your loved one rest in peace,” the national federation wrote in their respects to the fallen Athletes’ Representative.

“Zane was walking from the police station towards Iten town. He was with our French-born, Kenya-based associate, Julien Di Maria (known by his pseudonym Kip Evans).

“They were due to meet with the Chebet group, and watch their 40k long run. As he walked with Julien, they were joking, brainstorming and planning. Suddenly, Zane turned towards Julien and collapsed.

“He was admitted to Iten District Hospital but he was not responsive, neither breathing, nor was there any pulse. Doctors did their best with limited resources,” Savija detailed the last moments of the IAC director to globerunner.org.

Born in Ohio in 1957, his family moved to West Virginia, where they still own a farm. As a late teenage runner, he took part in the relay from the White House to Montreal prior to the Olympic Games in 1976.

He attended East Tennessee State University, where he was a team mate of a largely Irish contingent of runners, headed by Ray Flynn.

“Zane was passionate for running from the time I first met him at East Tennessee State University, where he was one of the top runners. He made friends wherever he went and will be sorely missed in the Athletics World,” Flynn who is now a manager and a former winner of the 1500m at the British Championships wrote.

-Additional material from globerunner.org used in this report

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