The inaugural Avena Kitui Half Marathon planned for September 20 in Kitui was officially launched on Monday in Nairobi.
The race founder Enock Wambua, who is also the Kitui County Senator, disclosed that the race will start at Ikutha Centre and conclude at Mutomo Airstrip.
Wambua said that the half marathon race will be supported by 8km junior and 6km junior women’s races that will feature locals only with top finishers winning cash prizes. There will also be a fun run of 2km.
Registration starts immediately at County offices in Kitui and learning institutions with those taking part in 21km paying Sh500. Participants in junior men race will part with Sh300 while junior women Sh200.
Wambua, who worked as a journalist at Nation Media Group, was speaking at Laico Regency Hotel upon receiving sponsorship worth Sh1.5 million from Golden Africa Kenya Limited and Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK).
Golden Africa Kenya Limited, under their cooking oil brand Avena, have come on board as the title sponsors for Sh1 million.
CAK director communication Christopher Wambua delivered a cheque of Sh500,000 during the launch that was attended by former World marathon record holder Patrick Makau and Athletics Kenya (AK) Kitui sub-branch chairman Philip Ngovi.
“This is a dream and an idea I have had since I was a journalist with Nation and Standard Media Groups,” said Wambua, who promised to revamp the event with time depending also on sponsorship available.
“I want it to grow to a full marathon and half marathon with a view of tapping the local talent. It's not just people running for money,” Wambua explained. “I want the focus to also shift from the Great Rift to Eastern part of Kenya in athletics.”
Wambua also cashed on the opportunity to advise Kenyan athletes to train hard and win clean.
“I want to thank Athletics Kenya and the government for their efforts to eradicate doping and I urge them to intensify the campaigns,” said Wambua.
Makau hailed the venture saying it will open up new grounds for athletics talent in the region saying he is a manifestation that athletics doesn’t only belong to the Rift Valley region.
Makau set a new World marathon record when he won the 2011 Berlin Marathon in 2 hours, 03 minutes and 38 seconds. The World record has since been broken thrice by Wilson Kipsang (2:03:23-2013), Dennis Kimetto (2:02:57-2014) and Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:39-2018).
Ngovi welcomed the country’s elite athletes to register in numbers for the 21km race where the men and women race winners will pocket Sh100,000 each. First runners-up will get Sh75,000 and third-place finishers will get Sh50,000.
Junior race winners will get Sh10,000 each while second and third-placed finishers will receive Sh9,000 and Sh8,000 respectively.