The sixth edition of Chemususu Dam Half Marathon, which targets to conserve the environment has attracted more than 500 elite athletes, who will compete on Saturday at Eldama Ravine in Baringo County.
The defending champions Bernard Ng'eno (men) and Derevine Meringor (women) will be facing stiff competition when they line up for the race on Saturday.
Former world record marathon holder, Dennis Kimetto is among the elite athletes who will line up at the annual race, where he will be seeking a comeback after missing in action for many years.
Last year, Ng'eno won the 21km race in 62:50 ahead of Philip Lagat, who clocked 63:52 and Alex Kibet was third in 63:53.
In the women’s category, Derivine Meringor led in 73:21, while Paskalia Jepkorir (74:03) and Lydia Njeri (74:23) were in second and third positions respectively.
The annual half marathon seeks to promote community conservation of the water catchment area, supply water to environs around the area and enroll the elderly to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).
The 21kms and 5kms category for the corporate class is expected to start at Eldama Ravine town and end at Chemususu Primary School.
Joseph Cheruiyot, an official in charge of registration, noted that the registration exercise commenced a month ago and they expect a number of elite athletes.
“We have registered several athletes in Iten, Kaptagat and Eldoret to participate in the race. We call on locals to participate in a bid to conserve the water catchment area,” said Cheruiyot.
Mathew Birir, the 1992 Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion, who is also the race director said that cultivation upstream along the water catchment area has led to adverse effects of climate change including siltation.
“Chemususu dam has more than 17 tributaries which are almost drying up due to human activities such as cultivation upstream and wanton cutting down of trees. The annual event targets to conserve the dam by planting trees and also supply clean water to the areas that are yet to get,” said Birir.
“We also target to enroll the elderly in this region to the NHIF kitty so as to achieve universal health coverage,” he added.
Winners in both women and men categories will pocket Sh250,000 trickling down to the 10th position.
“We want the resources we get from the event to plough back to the dam by planting trees and setting up a tree nursery as well. We hope something good will come out of this,” said Lawi Kipchumba, who is the Member of County Assembly of Lembus Kwen in Baringo County.
The main sponsors in the half marathon include Transnational Bank, Karen Roses, Equity Bank, Boresha Sacco, Baringo county government among others.