The 2020 Eldoret City Marathon has been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The race, which was scheduled for April 19, had attracted a number of big names after their international races were cancelled due to the restrictions that various governments have put to combat the spread of the Covid-19.
According to the Local Organising Committee, the ban on public gatherings and the social distancing policies forced them to postpone the race to a yet-to-be-announced date.
"We thought things will return to normalcy soon and that’s why it took us long to announce the changes,” said Moses Tanui, who is also the race director.
He asked athletes to continue training individually following the government directives as they prepare for various races when the coronavirus pandemic is contained.
“We need you as athletes and your health is key thing and that’s why we are asking you to train individually as one way of stopping the virus from spreading,” said the two-time Boston Marathon champion.
Earlier on, Tanui had invited all athletes who had cancelled their races to participate in the race which is one of the best paying so far in Kenya.
Athletes from Greece, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia were also expected to participate in the race as part of sports tourism in the country.
Athletics Kenya (AK) Central Rift chairman Abraham Mutai urged the athletes to continue training and ready for the next season.
He also asked the national government to consider assisting the athletes who depend on races that were cancelled due to the virus.
“Athletes who depend on the sport have wasted the whole season and President Uhuru Kenyatta should also intervene and help them because they won’t compete. He should help them as he has helped the musicians,” said Mutai.
The Uasin Gishu County Chief Executive Committee of Education, Culture, Social Services and Sports Joseph Kurgat said that it was a difficult decision to postpone the race but it is for the good of the participants and the public at large.
“This year the race was a notch higher than the previous editions and it took us a while to postpone. We have agreed to hold at a later date because being healthy at this time is important for us since the whole world has been affected,” said Kurgat.
Themed "Climate Action", the Eldoret City Marathon is expected to double up the number of trees planted in subsequent editions.
Plans are also underway to elevate the race into one of the World Major Marathons - a first in Africa.
Currently, there are six major marathons in the world - Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City marathons.
Last year Mathew Kisorio won the Eldoret race in 2:12:38 ahead of David Kiplimo who came in second after timing 2:12:51 while Kenneth Kemboi sealed the podium places in 2:15:53.
In the women's category, Valary Aiyabei clinched the title after timing 2:27:17 ahead of Kapsait-based Vivian Kiplagat who clocked 2:28:06 while Elizabeth Lumokol was third in 2:33:00.
Winner’s in both categories were to receive Sh3.5 million ($35,000) with prizes trickling down to the top 20 athletes.