The second edition of the Eldoret City Marathon will be run on Sunday and has attracted hundreds of runners.
All the roads in Eldoret town will be closed to traffic for the better part of the morning as elite athletes go head-to-head in the heart of the athletics’ region.
Women will be the first to race from 7am, while the men’s competition will start 30 minutes after.
Defending champion in the men’s category, Elkana Yego, told Nation Sport that he will be seeking back-to-back wins.
The athlete, who trains in Kamendi, Cherangany in Trans Nzoia, said he expected other elite runners to mark him as the defending champion.
“My training for the last three months has been good and I will be looking forward to running in familiar surroundings.
“I’m happy my family will be there to watch me race,” said the soft-spoken athlete.
Yego won in Eldoret last year in a time of 2:12:44 ahead of Phillip Kangogo who finished in 2:12:49 and Brian Kipsang, third in 2:12:50.
Other notable entries in the men’s category are Stephen Kemboi, Julius Kirui, Teddy Kemboi, Erick Nyairo, Ekiru Kelia and Hosea Mwok.
Sharon Cherop clinched victory in the women’s race last year after finishing in 2:29:57 ahead of Lydia Cheromei who came in second in 2:33:25 while Jane Jelagat Seurei was third in 2:33:46.
Cheromei will be taking advantage of the absence of last years’ winner to go for glory.
But she will face an already loaded field of stars who will be looking to shine at home.
“My training for the race has been good and I will be doing my best to win the race after losing narrowly last year to Cherop.
I love running at home because all my fans will be seeing the action live compared to races abroad,” Cheromei observed.
She will compete against Beijing Marathon champion Valary Aiyabei, Mary Maiyo, Beatrice Rutto and Rose Kosgei among others.
The organisers of the race have increased the winner’s prize in both categories to $35,000 (about Sh3.5 million) up from $30,000 (Sh3 million).
The total prize money stands at Sh18 million.
Themed “Climate Action”, the Eldoret City Marathon is mainly sponsored by the Uasin Gishu County government and has shown steady growth. Each edition organisers hope to plant double the number of trees planted in the previous edition.
Two-time Boston Marathon champion Moses Tanui, who is the race director, said the course had been changed from last year’s and the starting point will be at the University of Eldoret while the finishing line will be at Zion Mall.