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JONATHAN KOMEN

More than 25,000 runners will be lining up on the streets of Nairobi on October 26, to conquer varied challenges, during the 12th Nairobi International Standard Chartered Marathon.

It will not matter whether they will be doing it for fun, health or eyeing the Sh1.5 million prize money. The common denominators is that they will be running to conquer avoidable blindness in children.

The showpiece, which attracted 23,000 athletes from 68 countries last year, has seen the introduction of two finishing points for 21km and 42km races at the Nyayo National Stadium – all in a bid to avoid a mix-up of participants in the two races.

The spectacle, which has emerged as a take-off point for budding marathon talents, will feature five men’s and women’s races – 42km, 21km, 10km, wheelchair (42km) and 5km Family Fun Race.

Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat said the standard of the competition has improved greatly.

“Twelve years ago, when the race was introduced, we faced a lot of challenges convincing the Nairobi Mayor to team up with us. The City Council never saw anything meaningful in it. But right now, it’s different as times have changed and the race will match the stature of Boston and London Marathons in future. The Nairobi Governor is also fully behind us,” said Kiplagat.

Registration starts on Monday at all Standard Chartered Bank branches countrywide, selected supermarkets and health clubs at a fee of Sh2, 000. Runners can also register online through the marathon’s website www.nairobimarathon.com for Sh1,500 and Family Fun race and Sh150, 000 for corporates.

Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch said the marathon plays a key role in the tourism sector.

“Every edition brings sports tourists, who extend their stay on holiday. As a ministry, we will sponsor a minimum of 200 people to the race. But we are calling on Standard Chartered Bank to identify another partner to support the race. We want to see it attain the standards of other big marathons around the world. It will have multiple effects on the economy,” said Oluoch.

Standard Chartered CEO Lamin Manjang’ said more elite athletes are expected this year and micro-chip-enabled pip numbers will be introduced in 10km category for the first time as a result of the steady rise in demand for the race.

“This race has become more popular, attracting more than 45 per cent of the participants. We want to enhance professionalism in the management of the race,” said Manjang’.

In 2013, the Standard Chartered Bank extended its sponsorship for the race for another five years.

“We want to push up the status of the marathon because we believe that this event has what it takes to rival other big marathons including London, Boston and New York,” said Manjang’. Irene Jerotich, who won the Commonwealth marathon title in New Delhi in 2010, is perhaps the only athlete basking in exceptional shows at the Standard Chartered Marathon race. She won in 2006 edition and runner-up finish twice in 2005 and 2008 editions.

Courtesy of standardmedia.co.ke

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