Kass Marathon promises to get bigger this weekend in Eldoret, A View from Kenya, by Justin Lagat


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Justin Lagat, our Kenyan correspondent, texted me a few hours ago to gently remind me that the KASS Marathon is two days away. So, I stayed up a bit and posted the story of Eliud Kipchoge and this piece on the marathon! Good luck to all of our friends running the KASS Marathon this weekend.

Kass Marathon promises to get bigger this weekend in Eldoret.
About 10,000 runners are expected to take part at the Kass marathon this weekend, the 15th of November, with new sponsors coming on board to add their support. Among the new sponsors is the Sky-world Express, a local chartered plane that has come in to fly participants to Eldoret from Nairobi to Eldoret on a subsidized fare and also fly the winners in all categories to Nairobi for free. The county government of Uasin Gishu has also taken the initiative to sponsor 300 youths to take part in the marathon.
Kass marathon is unique in some ways. The fact that it starts from one town and ends in another one may not be very unique, but what is really unique is that crowds line up the entire route from Kapsabet town to Eldoret town to cheer the athletes, just like it happens in cross country meetings. It happens when a race is run across villages that produce past, present and future champions.
This marathon is more about discovering new talents than anything else. It continues to provide opportunities for new athletes to get recognized. Many of them get to meet their managers here who would then enter them in international competitions abroad.
Time is not important in this race due to the hard course. The winning time for men is usually around 2:17 to 2:20. Finishing Kass marathon is a huge achievement in itself, no matter in what time you do it. Some runners run just to complete this course believing that if they can just finish it, then they can easily conquer any other marathon out there.
Athletes running the full marathon usually travel in the evening to Kapsabet so that they would wake up in the morning near to the starting point. Most hotels there do not open early enough for runners to get their breakfast before the marathon, but last year there were women who made tea in open fires near the starting point and athletes took them with some snacks before they began to warm up. Although as one warms up, he may end up finding a hotel at some street somewhere far from the starting that is already open.
The women's race starts at around 7:30AM, some speeches are made in the next 20 minutes before the men's race could start. The men's race begins at around 8:00AM.
With tough hills on the route that at times athletes wonder whether they would not be moving faster if they walked instead of running, the first half of the Kass marathon is very tough. The last stages of the course, about fourteen kilometers, are relatively faster. The only problem is that to get to those last kilometers is not easy.
Whoever finishes the Kass marathon surely has a story to tell.
The race ends inside the Eldoret Sports Club. The whole place here is a big party. Locals turn up in very large numbers and there are many forms of entertainment in place. The change of the venue beginning last year was a great service to the Kass International Marathon and as the organizer promised, the marathon is truly becoming better and better each year.

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