Forget the lotteries and mobile phone wars to reward loyalty with money. Sunday will give over 14,000 people who have registered for this year’s Standard Chartered Nairobi International Marathon a chance to become instant millionaires should they win the 42-kilometre road race.
The race, now a permanent fixture in many Nairobi people’s calendars, will be marking its eighth edition. Last year, the race attracted about 13,000 people and has Standard Chartered Bank funding it until 2012. Geoffrey Githinji, the chairman of the race’s Steering Committee, said the organisers have received overwhelming interest from runners, fans and others keen to conquer their individual challenges. The registration process wound up on Tuesday, five days before the race, enabling the organisers to plan well. Race director, John Velzian said, this year’s competition is expected to be easy to organise now that construction on Mombasa road has been finished.
“Registration has been very efficient and we managed to close on Tuesday as scheduled and we are happy to report that the numbers have gone up to 14,000 participants,” said Githinji.
The Nairobi marathon has six races - the 42.2km full marathon, the 21km half marathon, the 10km road race, the Family Fun Run, the wheel chair and the Tricycle race.
Athletics Kenya confirmed yesterday that the marathon will take the same route as last year’s.
This route will see participants start at traditional point at Nakumatt Mega outside Nyayo National Stadium, take Uhuru Highway and turn at the University Way round-about into Kenyatta Avenue, Harambee Avenue and Haile Sellassie Avenue. The athletes will then head back to Mombasa Road and finish inside the stadium.
This route was unveiled last year and saw a course record of 2:10:12 set by last year’s winner Moses Kigen. Irene Jerotich has the women course record time of 2:28:47. A bonus of Sh250,000 if on offer for any woman or man who will beat the course time.
Since it inception in 2003, the marathon has grown to be the largest sporting event in Kenya attracting the highest number of elite athletes out of all the athletics events in the country.
Over the last five years, budding athletes have launched their careers in the Nairobi Marathon, offering an excellent opportunity for these runners to not only run one race of their own but to experience an international meet on their home soil.
The Nairobi marathon has indeed been a talent development opportunity with the like John Kelai and Caroline Kilel, the Commonwealth Games marathon champions, having discovered their prowess in the Nairobi marathon. As usual, the marathon is expected to unearth fresh talent. Last year, debutante Moses Kigen set a course record of 2:10:12 to win the men’s marathon dethroning the 2008 winner Moses Tuiyange who came in second.
In the women’s race, Irene Jerotich became the first second-time winner in the history of Nairobi Marathon with a course record of 2:28:47.
Jerotich erased the previous route best by four minutes and 56 seconds set by Emma Muthoni in 2008.
All proceeds from the Nairobi marathon go towards Seeing is Believing, a Standard Chartered Bank Charity aimed at eradicating avoidable blindness. Last year, Shs14.5 million was raised and went into funding cataract operations in Sabatia, Kikuyu, Tenwek, Kwale and Lighthouse for Christ Eye Centres.
“Last year we raised Sh14.5 million that went into our ‘Seeing is Believing’ initiatives across the country. This year, we are calling on all Kenyans to join and help us reach more Kenyans facing blindness,” said Richard Etemesi, Standard Chartered Bank’s Chief Executive.