Olympic marathon silver medallist Abel Kirui and World marathon record holder Patrick Makau have registered for this year’s ninth edition of UAP Ndakaini Half Marathon set for September 15.
Even though the appearance of double World marathon champion Kirui and Makau, who is also the Berlin Marathon champion, will be ceremonial, battle lines have already been drawn with one of the finest fields in recent editions expected.
Ernest Kebenei, who finished seventh at last year’s edition only to win the Nairobi Marathon close to a month later, is back to set the record straight.
However, Kebenei, 27, has a tough battle on his hands as he renews rivalry with defending champion Dennis Kipruto. While Kebenei went for the Nairobi Marathon title, Kipruto seized the Half-Marathon category.
Whether Kebenei will succeed in wrestling the title from Kipruto is left to be seen. The defending champion is oozing form after setting a world record at the 25km road distance at the BIG 25 competition on May 6 in Berlin, Germany.
Kipruto, 28, stormed to a World record, clocking 1 hour 11 minutes and 18 seconds, a feat he achieved less than three months after winning the Ras Al Khaimah Half-marathon race on February 17 in the United Arab Emirates with personal best of 1:00:34.
On March 4, Kebenei set his personal best time in the marathon of 2:10.04 when he finished 10th at the Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan. The race was won by debutant Samuel Ndun’gu in 2:07:04. Kebeni has a half-marathon personal best of 1:01.50 set on October 14, 2007 in Dordrecht, Netherlands.
And Kirui has challenged Kenyans to embrace the spirit of the Ndakaini initiative and help conserve water catchment areas and wetlands. “We are losing our forest cover at an alarming rate and we must do something. Our rivers are drying up and soon, we shall lack drinking water,” said Kirui.
Huge field expected
Speaking during the launch of this year’s edition at the UAP Insurance offices Nairobi, the company’s head of marketing and distribution Joseph Kamiri said they expect over 5,000 athletes in the main 21 kilometre race. Other categories are the 10km, 5km, 3km and Schools relay races.
One of the race organisers, James Mukuna, said preparations for this year’s event are complete.
Registration is on at all the UAP branches across the country, athletics camps, selected branches of Uchumi Supermarket, Kass FM offices and online through www.uapkenya.com.
The deadline for registration is September 9. Individual registration is Sh500, while that for the corporate race is Sh50,000 and Sh2,000 per school.
Winners in the men and women’s 21km will pocket Sh150,000 each in cash prizes that will trickle down to the top 10 finishers. Men and women’s winners in the 10km will pocket Sh15,000 each, with the 10th-placed getting Sh1,000.
There are also cash awards in 5km category, while winners of children’s 3km races will get gift vouchers.
Mukuna said plans to construct a High Altitude Training Camp in Ndakaini are at an advanced stage after the government provided Sh10m out of the Sh65m needed.