Kisumu city is hardly known for producing marathon stars but things could change on Sunday when locals have been offered huge incentives to run in the annual Safaricom Kisumu Marathon.
The men’s and women’s winners in the 42-kilometre race will each earn Sh200,000 with the first home runner across the line pocketing Sh10,000 extra.
There will also be a five-kilometre race exclusively for Kisumu area runners with the men’s and women’s winners getting Sh7,000 and the cash awards, like in the marathon, going down to the 10th-place finisher.
“The course has been marked and certified and any record that will be registered there will be official,” Athletics Kenya secretary David Okeyo said yesterday shortly after arriving in the lake side city and surveying the course.
Complete four loops
“The weather is fantastic and we hope it holds until Sunday (tomorrow) for us to witness a great race,” he added.
Okeyo said slight changes have been made to the route owing to the construction of the Awasi-Kisumu road and that now the runners will complete four loops within the city.
Athletics Kenya’s Nyanza North branch public relations officer, Jared Gilo, said that they hope to register more people for the races this year.
Last year, the event attracted 400 runners.
Registration will be done on Saturday from 8am to 5pm at the Jomo Kenyatta Sports ground in the heart of Kisumu with athletes paying Sh300 to register.
Okeyo called of officials from AK’s Nyanza North branch to assemble at the ground in the morning for a pre-race recce.
Joseph Biwott won last year's men's race in two hours, 13 minutes and 41 seconds with the women’s title falling to Irene Mogaka (2:38:00).
Mogaka has also confirmed that she will defend her title.
Others top contenders on Sunday include Benjamin Koech (2:14:13 for second place last year) and James Karioki (2:14:23 for third).
Perez Chepkorir (2:40:21 for second position last year) and Mercy Chemutai (2:41:30 for third) are also expected.
The Marathon will begin at the Imperial Hotel and snake through the major roads in Milimani and Nyalenda over four laps before ending at the Kenyatta Sports Ground.