Action galore is expected in Iten town when top local and foreign runners clash as the second Shoe4Africa women’s race gets under way Sunday.
The 2007 World Cross Country senior champion, Lorna Kiplagat, and Hilda Kibet, both formerly Kenyans, will be chasing the $500 (Sh38,000) top prize as they strive to make the Netherlands team to the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in March.
The two Dutch women will fight it out with former World 10,000m champion Sally Barsosio and World 10,000m silver medallist Silvia Kibet in the cross country race. Hilda, the European cross country champion, is the elder sister of Silvia and the two are Lorna’s cousins.
The race, funded by American writer Toby Tanser, is among the exclusive women’s races taking place in the country this season.
Tanser said the race, which laos aims to promote HIV/Aids awareness, has raised funds towards a giant children’s hospital in Eldoret town.
“We have raised $700,000 [Sh53 million] for the hospital, which would be the largest children’s hospital in Africa,” Tanser told the Nation.
“I have been leading funds drives in America, with contributions from Cristiano Ronaldo, the soccer star, and [world famous] actresses Notalie Portman and Rosario Dawnson.”
Through the efforts of the sponsor, used shoes are shipped to Africa to be used especially by women athletes.
Tanser, a director at the lucrative New York Marathon, said he was also giving the top 12 race winners prizes ranging from $100 to $500.
“Our race is completely charity. We will raffle 250 [pairs of] shoes and T-shirts for free. The entry is free but limited to the first 500 people to sign up on Friday and Saturday at the High Altitude Training Centre,” added Tanser.
The race, which only promotes health awareness, is organised by High Altitude Training Centre in Iten that is owned by Lorna.
Athletics Kenya chairman Isaiah Kiplagat will be the chief guest at the championships. He will be accompanied by veteran runners Moses Kiptanui and Moses Tanui.
The meeting coincides with the fifth edition of Baringo Safaricom Half Marathon race, organised by Paul Tergat, which has impressive cash incentives.
Athletics Kenya North Rift branch public relations officer William Tomno said more runners were expected at this edition.
“The 400 participants last year will rise up to 600 since even runners from South Rift have entered,” said Tomno.
“Men will compete in the 21km race while women will compete in the 15km race. Registration is still on.”