Organisers of the Kass Marathon have introduced a cash award of US$ 10,000 (Sh1 million) for top foreign finishers to attract international athletes to the fifth edition of the event set for November 20 in Eldoret.
Kass Media Group chairman, Joshua Chepkwony, said the first foreign finishers in the men and women’s categories will each pocket US$ 5,000 (Sh500,000).
Overall winners, in both men and women’s categories, will each get Sh1.5 million. Winners of the 12km race will pocket Sh50,000 while the winning team in the corporate 5km race will get Sh100,000.
“We want to encourage participation of athletes from the wider East African Community and that is why we have introduced the separate award for top foreign performers,” Chepkwony said.
Over 4,000 professional marathoners are expected to take part, with 20 athletes from Rwanda having confirmed.
“We also want to get Ethiopian and Ugandan athletes to participate,” Chepkwony said.
Organisers have said either Olympics 5,000m and 10,000m women’s champion Tirunesh Dibaba from Ethiopia or women’s World Marathon record holder, Paula Radcliffe would grace the event as chief guest.
However, their appearance is subject to confirmation by their agents.
Radcliffe has expressed desire to train in Iten in readiness for next year’s Olympics. 2004 New York City Marathon champion, Hendrick Ramaala, was the chief guest last year.
The Kass boss was speaking during the unveiling of Sh5 milion in sponsorship of the event from Trans National Bank.
Kass International, Brookside Dairy and Jamii Telecommunication have each donated Sh5 million towards the race. Jamii Telecomunication will spend Sh2 million to provide the link for live coverage of the event.
Safaricom and Amaco Insurance also presented sponsorship cheques of Sh1 million each.
Other sponsors are Uchumi Supermarkets, Kenya Institute of Management, Jetlink and Moi University.
Speaking at the same function, Nation Media Group CEO, Linus Gitahi, said athletes are the best brand Kenya has and should be supported.
“Our athletes are the biggest ambassadors and that is why Kass’s initiative should be supported so as to take the event to the next level,” Gitahi said.