Justin Lagat writes about the two above shown athletes, and how, wins at Kass Marathon affected both Albert Korir and Aiyabei Jemeli, who won the 2015 event. What will happen this coming weekend in Eldoret, and where will they go?
The two marathon runners who may have gotten many to ask about their past records in running after their amazing recent performances in New York City and Frankfurt Marathons are Albert Korir and Valary Aiyabei Jemeli. Korir finished second behind Geoffrey Kamworor in New York this month while Jemeli ran a solo run to win the Frankfurt marathon last month in a new course record of 2:19:10 and the fifth-fastest time for women this year. She is currently ranked in position three in the Athletics World marathon rankings.
Coincidentally, both runners won the men and women titles at the 2015 Kass Marathon event. The two were little-known until their feat at this annual marathon that traverses the two counties of Nandi and Uasin Gishu.
The Kass Marathon, the only Marathon that begins at the “source of champions” and ends in the “City of Champions” happens this weekend in Eldoret, Kenya.
There is a very high chance that another new pair of future world-beaters are going to be discovered this Sunday, on the 17th of November when thousands of runners from the world’s biggest granary of runners toe the start lines of the 42.2km event and the 21.1km events on the road that connects Eldoret and Kapsabet towns.
Despite the good prize money on offer for the top ten finishers, hardly any of the past champions come back and successfully defend their titles. This is one fact that goes a long way in explaining the nature of the tough course and competition in this marathon.
The crowds that turn up to cheer the runners on this marathon are also a spectacle to watch. The communities around the place where this marathon is conducted love athletics so much that the entire road from Kapsabet to Eldoret is lined with surging crowds as they turn to cheer some of the runners that they know personally, who may be their relatives or fellow villagers.
When the Olympic Trials were done in Eldoret in 2016, the gates to the stadium had to be locked up early in the morning as it was already beyond its capacity even before the sun could rise up on the days of the competitions. An almost similar scenario was witnessed when the same crowds turned up to watch the huge screen at Eldoret town when Eliud Kipchoge ran the marathon in under two hours. The high way that connects Uganda to the rest of the world was momentarily closed as there was no space even for a pin to drop to the ground in the town!
This weekend, the atmosphere at the finish line of the Kass Marathon, at Eldoret’s Sports Club, will be quite electric and emotional for many.