More than 4,000 athletes are expected to grace the 12th edition of the Kass Marathon in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County on Sunday.
The race, which starts in Kapsabet in Nandi County and ends at the Eldoret Sports Club, has attracted both elite and upcoming athletes, who will be using the race as part of their build up for major events next season.
The athletes will be competing in the 42km race, newly introduced 21km race and 5km fun as well as corporate race with the winners in the 42km race going home with Sh1.5 million.
The 21km race is expected to start at Koitalel Samoei University College in Nandi County with the winner going home Sh350,000 richer.
The race, which has been categorised as the hardest in Kenya, will see athletes start the race with a hilly part commonly known as ‘Chebarbar’, before descending at Chepterit and another hill towards Mosoriot.
By the time the athletes cross to Uasin Gishu County, those who did their hill work training session well will be tackling the Eldoret Airport hilly part with ease as they cruise towards victory at Eldoret Sports Club.
The race has produced many world beaters including Chicago Marathon champion Lawrence Cherono, former Boston Marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai, newly crowned Frankfurt Marathon champion Valary Aiyabei, former world half marathon record holder Peris Jepchirchir among others.
Aiyabei told Nation Sport that her participation in Kass Marathon in three editions gave her a chance to be identified by her current management.
“I will be running in the race on Sunday just to motivate the upcoming athletes. I started in this race and I’m happy after winning in 2015, I was contracted by Adidas who have been sponsoring me up to date,” said Aiyabei.
She asked athletes not to give up no matter how hard it is.
“Kenyans are really tough and this the best race to get management for an upcoming athlete. For elite athletes, they use such races to train and it’s always good to gauge your performance,” said Aiyabei.
Her sentiments were echoed by Chicago Marathon champion Lawrence Cherono who competed in 2010 and 2011 editions.
Cherono said that he is happy Eldoret has two marathon races that athletes can use as part of training ahead of major assignments across the globe.
“I participated in 2010 and 2011 and I must say that the course is good for preparations ahead of major events. I would personally advice athletes to always participate in the local races,” said Cherono.
Kass Media Group CEO Julius Lamaon said that preparations for the race are complete and they will be expecting a large turnout compared to the previous editions.
“After the introduction of the new 21km race, we expect large turnout and we are also happy that this year many sponsors came on board. We shall continue working with the athletes as we look forward to better the race in future," said Lamaon.
Last year, Jackson Kemboi emerged the winner in the 42km race after timing 2:20:27 ahead of Silas Mwetich, who clocked 2:21:10, while Dennis Kiptoo sealed the podium in 2:21:10.
In the women's category, Cynthia Cherop bagged victory in 2:39:16 ahead of Beatrice Jepkorir, who came in second after clocking 2:45:07, while Peris Jepchirchir was third in 2:46:15.