Meru County is set to host a mountain race at the foot of the scenic Mt Kenya Forest to help raise funds to support the fight against cancer.
The inaugural race dubbed ‘Challenging the heights’ will be held on February 8 next year. It will seek to mobilise funds for the establishment of the Meru Cancer Institute as well as promote tourism and environmental conservation.
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, who flagged off a mock race yesterday, said the county also wants to exploit the potential of Mt Kenya as a sports destination and nurture talents.
Mr Murungi also sampled the racecourse accompanied by former Athletics Kenya Treasurer Joseph Kinyua, who is currently the Meru Sports Council chairman, former world marathon champion Douglas Wakiihuri and three Kenyans who have participated in world mountain running events.
Kenya Museums of Kenya Director Mzalendo Kibunjia, top athletics promoters and Athletics Kenya officials also attended the event.
Purity Gitonga and Caroline Gitonga, twin sisters from Kienini village in Meru, participated in the 34th world mountain running championship held in Canillo, Andorra, last year. Lucy Murigi, a Kenyan, won the race and helped the women team scoop gold. The runners are under Run2gether team that will participate in this year’s world mountain running championship in Argentina.
“The race is not new, only that it has not been held here. Kenya has taken teams to world events and some have won those races,” said Mr Murungi.
He noted that they intend to make the race international, taking advantage of the fact that it is the first ever mountain race in Kenya and Africa.
Mr Kinyua said the event will include races for both the young and the old, with the elite race being 12,000 metres at 2,800 metres above sea level.
Other races are a junior category of six and eight kilometres, a fun race dubbed “keep the doctor away”, corporate, masters and institutions of higher learning runs. Winners will pocket Sh500,000, first runners-up Sh250,000 while second runners-up will walk away with Sh100,000.