Organisers of Saturday’s Kenya Airways Mara Marathon have waived registration fees for elite runners and upped the prize money five-fold to Sh250,000.
Race director John Konchellah also confirmed that differences between the proprietors of Olchorro Oirowua Conservancy in the picturesque Masai Mara, where the race will be staged, have been ironed out and promised a smooth and peaceful race.
The race, one of its kind, is in its second edition. It has attracted a Sh6 million windfall from the national carrier, which is inclusive of their Sh20 million three-year sponsorship.
Other entrants will be charged Sh2,500, which includes one night’s accommodation.
“The race is run in a sanctuary and we promise to help in developing the area where it is staged. We have since given Olchorro Oirowua Conservancy Sh1 million for the education of the children in the conservancy and adjacent areas with about 15,000 people,” Konchellah said.
The Mara Marathon stands out as one of the more lucrative road races as regards the prize money, which organisers confirmed they will raise.
“This is just the beginning. We had the first race without any meaningful sponsorship,” said Konchellah, a former World 800m champion. “Now we have Kenya Airways on board and we are certain this race will evolve into one of the trademark competitions in the history of the country and be rated at the same level as Lewa Marathon.”
Several athletes – including World 800m record holder David Rudisha and reigning world champion Gregory Kochellah – come from the region.
Organisers however said they are more concerned with inspiring younger athletes to take up athletics and also improve the water and sanitation as well as heath facilities in the area.
Alongside the half marathon, which will be the main race, there will also be a 5km road race for veterans and children with Sh36,000 up for grabs for the winners in both categories.
Plans are also afoot to market the race a complete package for tourism.