Kimetto captures Chicago in record time.
Kimetto captures $75,000 course record bonus in Chicago

Stats are like bible quotes, got one for any POV.  So while Spanish statistician Miguel Calvo sifts through the splits from Berlin three weeks ago (translation by Alberto Stretti) comparing Wilson Kipsang‘s 2:03:23 marathon world record with countryman Dennis Kimetto’s course record 2:03:45 at the Chicago Marathon last Sunday, I’m digging into the money game.

There’s no contest how money plays out in terms of impact and purchasing power.  But let’s make it more interesting and compare a top runner say, Dennis Kimetto, with top business CEOs in terms of value for service.

For his superb Chicago effort, Kimetto earned $100,000 in prize money and $75,000 more for his course record.  There’s also appearance money to consider and sources in the industry peg the 2012 Berlin Marathon runner-up and 2013 Tokyo Marathon champion’s market value around $75,000.  Finally, there is the shoe company bonus that sources say may be worth an additional $25,000 — $50,000.  Conservatively, then, Mr. Kimetto banked, give or take, $300,000 for his Chicago win.

Obviously, that’s not near on par with the $10 — $30+ million that a top-level CEO will command on the open market, but with the average annual wage in Kenya resting at $1,700, Dennis’s prize purse and bonuses in Chicago represent 176 times the average Kenyans’ yearly earnings.  That’s quite a day’s work, no doubt, though it required many months of intense preparation for Kimetto to earn that princely sum.

Yet, as high a paycheck as Kimetto’s was in Chicago in comparison to his average Kenyan neighbor’s take-home pay, what Dennis won last Sunday still lags behind the difference between a top CEOs pay across the Standard & Poor 500 Index of companies when compared to the average worker’s pay and benefits.

Ex-JCP CEO, Ron Johnson, smiling all the way
Ex-JCP CEO, Ron Johnson, smiling all the way

In fact, the 2012 average multiple of CEO compensation to that of rank-and-file worker stood at 204, up 20 percent since 2009.  Topping the latest list was former JC Penney CEO Ronald Johnson, whose 2012 compensation of $53.3 million was 1795 times that of his average employees’ salary of $29,688.  That is the equivalent difference in distance between the 26.2 miles of a marathon and 77 feet!

Of the 250 ranked CEO multiples, only Nike President Mark Parker had an affiliation with running.  Mark’s multiple came in at # 8 on the list.

Stephen Kiprotich, Olympic Champ
Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich, 2012 Olympic Champ

The winner of the upcoming ING New York City Marathon can take home as much as $900,000, given it is either Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia or Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, the two men still in the hunt for the $500,000 World Marathon Majors bonus for the 2012-2013 cycle.

As multiple-time major champions, either man would garner a higher appearance fee than Kimetto pre-Chicago.  Plus, the shoe company bonus for a New York win is higher, as well.  The multiple between $900,000 and $1700 is 529 (though Kiprotich is Ugandan, he lives and trains in Kenya. So we’ll use Kenyan figures, though Uganda’s average annual income is only two-thirds that of Kenya’s).

A multiple of 529 would place Olympic and World Champion Stephen Kiprotich 25th on the Top CEO Pay Ratio List, one spot in front of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, whose 2011 compensation of $34.9 million was 524 times that of the $66,605 the average Exxon Mobil employee earned.

Then, again, it might take 20 to 30 years of education and experience to rise to the level of CEO in a major corporation. Dennis Kimetto was a subsistence farmer in 2010.   Pretty solid per annum investment.



  1. Speaking as an ex-film school fella that is just guenis. If we get more of that going, we won’t need any expensive donations or funding to bring Nollywood to our own city of Nairobi.I think guys like Just a Band are so ahead of their time in so many ways and I am just so happy to see projects like this. Here’s to a cheap, citizen centred film industry in Africa.

  2. It’s a good thing you began with the disclaimer re anything can be done with statistics…..

    You take two known figures for the Chicago winner (the 100g winnings and 75g bonus) but then add 2 “somewhat better than sheer rumor” figures and add both the rumored highest values to the sum and ! use the adjective “conservative” to the sum? I think the proper use of “conservative” is when you take the low(est) number/value (which would total 225g)–using 300g as you did–wouldn’t that be the “liberal” figure? English 101 much?

    Mr. Scmhidt’s comment/question is much more interesting to me–is a one-off world marathon win enough to retire on (if conservatively invested i suppose).

    I also think it would have been a more statistically relevant question/article if the RANGE of 225-300g had been compared to a KENYAN CEO.

    1. Average and Median Monthly Salary Comparison in Kenya in Executive and Management via

      Maximum: 650,000 Kenyan Shillings per month with 84.80 Ksh = $1.00. So 650,000 Ksh/month = $91,981 per year for the following:

      Location: Nairobi (Kenya )
      Job Title: Executive Director
      Industry: Petroleum / Energy / Oil and Gas / Chemicals
      Age: 42 Years Gender: Male
      Job Type: Full Time Nationality: Kenya
      Daily Load: 10 hours a day Education: Bachelor’s Degree
      Weekly Load: 6 days a week Job Relavence: Education Exactly Matches Job
      Supervising: 30 people Experience: 20 Year(s)
      Paid Vacation: 21 days a year Employed Period: 13 Years
      Paid Sick Days: Health Insurance: Provided By Employer
      Company Size: Less Than 50 Employees Submitted On: 20 September 2012
      Company Type: Private Sector

      Average executive compensation: 246,204 Ksh/month

      Median: 200,000 Ksh/month

      Minimum: 25,000 Ksh/month

      Executive and Management VS All Jobs
      Average Monthly Salary in Kenya in Executive and Management 246,204 Ksh
      Average Monthly Salary in Kenya (all jobs) 145,591 Ksh

  3. Very interesting way of looking at prize money.

    Does that mean that $300,000 is enough to retire off of in Kenya? Considering agents, taxes, and coaching fees, I wonder how much they actually take home. If I recall correctly I think there was a movement by Athletics Kenya about a year ago to reform Kenyan taxation to prevent unfair double dipping into prize money.

    Regardless, a 2:03 marathon is certainly deserving of every cent it earns.

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