The annual Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon continues to attract many athletes in all categories as was evident in last weekend’s 17th edition of the championship.
Whether for fun, personal fitness or in the case of the elite athletes, a chance to earn a good payday and create a foundation for an international career; Standard Chartered Marathon is locally the best option.
The 42km race continues to be the main event in the Nairobi Marathon, but many aver that the equally tasking 21km race should now generate equal interest and cut its own niche.
While both races are geared towards Standard Chartered’s core charity programmes, initiating different calendars for the two could rake in more interest and support from the general public.
Worldwide, the 21km half marathons are held as separate entities and I believe it is time the organisers of StanChart Marathon followed the trend. While few have the glamour of the majors, there are some brilliant European, US and world half marathons that offer something different.
The Standard Chartered Marathon now has gained traction around the continent and in the region after nearly two decades of existence would be one of these, should they tap into the goodwill they have received from many participants in their 17-year history.
While the 42km race should remain the prized event on the cards, running the 21km on a separate calendar would help attract international athletes and move the main marathon towards its dream of attaining the elite marathon status like the big five of London, Berlin, New York, Chicago and Boston marathons.
It’s not a secret that the 42km race has swallowed the half marathon event and very few would remember who the winners of the 21km event were. So to open another front of enhancing the status of Kenya’s number one road race event, giving the half marathon its own platform would be ideal.
Here even those interested in taking part in the main 42km marathon race in October can use the half marathon as a build-up to the main event.
Elite athletes, both local and international, who endure a gruelling road racing season may also get an opportunity of taking part in the shorter marathon as a precursor to their main running season.
An improvement in its marathon status worldwide can be achieved by the quality of athletes on the starting line up and this way, the Standard Chartered Marathon will retain its charity obligations while driving its brand visibility beyond the Kenyan borders.
Korir is the Athletics Kenya Nairobi branch chairman. [email protected]