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Unchecked road races ruining sport runners

Wednesday October 8 2014

Athletes take part in the 21Km in the fourth edition of the Laikipia University Marathon on October 05, 2014. People are using these races for their own selfish interests in the guise that they are funding certain projects. Slowly, road races are being turned into business ventures with some quarters making a kill. FILE PHOTO | STEVE NJUGUNAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Athletes take part in the 21Km in the fourth edition of the Laikipia University Marathon on October 05, 2014. People are using these races for their own selfish interests in the guise that they are funding certain projects. Slowly, road races are being turned into business ventures with some quarters making a kill. FILE PHOTO | STEVE NJUGUNAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BARNABAS KORIR
By BARNABAS KORIR
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I think there are so many road races on the local scene which need to be reviewed and harmonised for the sake of protecting our local runners.

While these races are good in terms of scouting and nurturing talent, too many of them can be counter productive. Nowadays people just wake up and decide to stage road races any time, anywhere and everywhere.

Ironically, these races are being approved by our very own parent body, Athletics Kenya (AK) without consideration of their own calendar and the welfare of the major stakeholders — athletes.

Many a times we have had three or four road races in different parts of the country in one weekend, leaving most of us wondering if there is any co-ordination at all.

Even worse is the fact that people are using these races for their own selfish interests in the guise that they are funding certain projects. Slowly, road races are being turned into business ventures with some quarters making a kill.

POOR ORGANISATION
For example, registration fee of Sh500 or Sh1,000 for around 1,000 athletes is not small money. This is besides the fact that these races are getting full sponsorship.

In fact, everything in as far as road races are concerned is now days being run in a haphazard way. Once upon a time AK set the sealing of the amount of money that should be paid for every category in road racing but this is yet to be adhered to.

For example, half marathon top prize is supposed to be Sh500,000 for the winners while a full marathon is supposed to fetch Sh1.5million for the top guys.

Road race organisers are supposed to pay Sh250,000 for road races. This has not happened and I don’t see it happening in the near future.

It is ironical that even some of the AK-organised full marathons like Mombasa are offering less than Sh200,000. If AK are reneging on their own rules, how do we expect other people to follow.

We can’t have seven road races in one month and expect good results at the end of it all. AK have in the past promised to clamp down on illegal road races but in vain.

It seems that as long as the permit fee is paid, AK are not interested in the athletes welfare and even the prizes on offer.

It is one think to give empty threats and it is another to effect the rules. Some races are being run without water and ambulances and this sometimes have led to death.

Athletics is serious business and AK need to go back to the drawing board to ensure the road racing department is up and running.

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