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Battle for supremacy

Friday October 23 2009

Emma Muthoni on her way to winning the women’s race at last year’s Nairobi Marathon. Four former champions will be out to reclaim their title in Sunday’s race. Photo/ FILE

Emma Muthoni on her way to winning the women’s race at last year’s Nairobi Marathon. Four former champions will be out to reclaim their title in Sunday’s race. Photo/ FILE  

By CHRIS MUSUMBA

Four past winners will seek to make history when they enter into Sunday’s Standard Chartered Nairobi International Marathon, attempting their second victories in Kenya’s biggest race.

Hardly do debutantes win big marathons, but statistics have been turned on their head at the Nairobi race where rookies outsmart seasoned campaigners ever since it was started in 2003.

On Sunday, the current course record holder, Samson Kikwet Tuiyange (2:10.30), Rose Chesire (2007 winner), Irene Jerotich (2006 champion) and John Njoroge Thuita (2007 winner), will be out to break the jinx and clinch their second wins in the 42km race.

Tuiyange set the course record last year and denied Thuita the chance to successfully defend his title.

He also became the first elite runner to win the Nairobi marathon together with the women’s champion Emma Muthoni.

Sh1.5 million in prize money at stake for the winner with a bonus of Sh250,000 for a course record. The marathon’s route was redesigned last year to try and get a flat course and to showcase the historic features in Nairobi, and, coupled with the fine weather, fast times should be expected.

In the women’s marathon, 2007 winner, Chesire, will make a return in a bid to reclaim her title.

It will be the third time that Chesire will be running having finished fourth last year in a race won by Muthoni.

Last year, Jerotich was second after the disqualification of Jepkosgei Sawe for having taken a short cut.

Sawe is expected to prove her critics wrong when she returns tomorrow but will have to face off against Jerotich.

Foreign legion

To spice up the marathon as an international race, organisers have brought on board a foreign legion from 42 nationalities. This brings the number of overseas athletes to 194.

“As usual this year, we have received a good number of foreign entries. This includes those residing in and outside the country. USA and Germany have 22 entries each. Other foreign entries include Japan, Italy, Uganda and China,” said Geoffrey Githinji, the chairman of the race’s National Steering Committee.

Registration for the event closed on Friday with Githinji confirming that over 10,000 runners had already been registered and picked up their running bibs and gear.

However, with the long queues experienced, hitting the 15,000 mark is within the grasp for the organisers in the six races on card – full marathon, half marathon, 10km road race, 5km family fun run, the tricycle race and the wheel chair race.

The marathon will start outside the Nyayo National Stadium along Uhuru Highway, run right into the city centre up to the University Way roundabout.

Athletes will then have to deviate to Kenyatta and Harambee avenues before returning to the Uhuru Highway and on to Mombasa Road.

“It is an opportunity to showcase some of the historical buildings in the city, these include the City Hall, Parliament buildings, the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Uhuru Park, Railway Station and many others,” said Githinji.

All proceeds from the Nairobi marathon have always gone towards “Seeing is Believing” project, an initiative of the bank aimed at tackling avoidable blindness.

Last year, Sh12.5 million was raised and went into funding cataract operations and Trachoma intervention projects across the country.

“Last year saw one of our most successful editions of the marathon, thanks to the participant who turned out in large numbers. We raised Sh12.5 million for the initiative across the country. This year, we are calling on all Kenyans to join us and together let us reach more Kenyans facing blindness,” urged Githinji.

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