Controversy and confusion marred the official launch of the Maasai Mara marathon on Tuesday with Athletics Kenya threatening to ban any local athlete who takes part in the event set for November 29.
However, organisers of the event came out fighting and displayed a letter from AK which sanctioned the race, saying they would proceed with their plans.
The race’s technical director, John Konchellah, a brother of former World 800m champion Billy Konchellah, said they had not contravened any law and urged AK to support the venture, which would see for the first time, a marathon race competed in the Mara Game Reserve.
But AK chairman Isaiah Kiplagat cautioned any athletes planning to take part in the race that they would be banned from any national championship.
“Any athlete who takes part in an event that is not sanctioned by us will be banned. We have always told organisers of races to seek our clearance before proceeding with their plans. This has to stop,” he said.
Kiplagat had sanctioned the race to be held on November 7, but the organisers - led by Robert Ouko - said that was too close to the Standard Chartered marathon (held on October 25) and opted to push theirs forward for a higher turn out.
“We could not host this event on the said dates, we therefore pushed it to November 29. But we are not doing anything wrong. Maybe they (AK) need to tell us which other date is available,” said Ouko.
But that was not the only obstacle, there is another race that has been sanctioned and registered by AK with the same name.
Launched in August, the Mara International marathon was to be held in a year’s time to coincide with the migration of the wild beast from Kenya to the Serengeti Game reserve in Tanzania. The expedition is always viewed as the eighth wonder of the world.