The Eldoret City Marathon was announced a few weeks ago, and Justin Lagat was there. Here is his commentary on what will be a new and important event in Kenya.
On the 26th of February, Jackson Mandago, the governor of the Uasin Gishu County that is famously referred to as the champion, launched the Eldoret City Marathon which will take place on the 22nd of April this year.
This will be the first ever marathon in Kenya to be sponsored by a county government; which fits well with the county’s nick-name of being the champion and the Eldoret City also being fondly referred to as the City of Champions. “Eldoret is known internationally because of the runners who live year and it is right that we bring a big marathon here to the runners and do what we are known internationally here at home,” the deputy Governor said during the launch. The full marathon will start and finish within the streets of Eldoret town.
Present during the launch was Jackson Tuwei, the Athletics Kenya president who lauded the initiative by the Uasin Gishu county government as one that should be followed by other counties in the country, said that the event will be added into the Athletics Kenya calendar of events.
The main aim of the marathon will be to work towards the conservation of the environment in ways that will include planting more indigenous trees, restoration and increase of forest cover and creating awareness of wise use of forest resources. This will be in line with the government policy and the millennium development goals on climate change.
Besides the environmental conservation initiative, the marathon will also seek to promote sports tourism in the county as well as to support the local talents in the region. “Placing in a top position at a local race in and around Eldoret automatically changes the status of an athlete here into an international one,” said Moses Kiptanui, the former 10,000m world champion, who was also present during the event. Local talents who could not access sponsors, agents and major international races, will, through this marathon, get the chance to participate in an international caliber race right here at home.
The marathon will be offering the highest ever paid prize money in Kenya to its winners with a total of over ten million Kenyan shillings going to the prize money. With such competitive prizes to be won, this marathon is expected to attract the best talent in the country and offer the fans the opportunity to experience world standards of marathon running in their home city.
The marathon will be held annually in Eldoret and is expected to get bigger and bigger each year as more sponsors joins in sponsoring it.