Caro_Kilel.pngFormer Boston marathon winner and 2009 World Championships gold medallist Caroline Kilel will be defending her title when the Masai Mara Marathon go down at Lemek Conservancy on October 18.

Kilel headlines the elite athletes who have confirmed participation as she seeks to retain the title she won last year clocking a time of 1:11.15.

Masai Mara Marathon chairman Gideon Kochellah revealed that Kilel is the front runner in the elite runners who will grace the race.

“Having Kilel on board is great for the race and we are hoping many more will register,” said Konchellah. “Kenyans are known to be last minute people and within the next one week we are expecting our registration centres to flood with both elite athletes and fun runners.”

Konchellah said they have already learnt from the athletics circles that many athletes will grace the 21km event as part of their speed work training ahead of the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon set for October 26.

“The event will feature two competitive running categories—21km and 5km for all categories of athletes including elite, corporates and fun runners,” said Konchellah.

He also revealed that preparations on the ground are moving on well. “We are almost done with our set up even though we won’t have as big village as we did last year owing to the departure of our main sponsors,” said Konchellah.

“The course will also remain the same. We have measured it once and we are to do it two more times to ensure that whatever time is hit is recognised by the relevant bodies including the IAAF.”

He added despite the departure of the main sponsor, the prize money remains the same where the winner will walk home Sh500,000 richer.

Runner-up finishers will bag Sh200,000, while bronze medals will receive Sh100,000. There will also be prizes for finishers within the top ten with the last on the list taking home Sh4,000.

Since inception in 2009, the event has distinguished itself as a key fixture on the sporting calendar and has grown significantly over the years with the inaugural edition in 2009 having attracted a paltry 352 registered participants.

The event has played a key role in not only nurturing and promoting talent, but also introducing sports tourism in the Mara Ecosystem and providing an avenue for spurring development around the Mara.

The event is held annually to raise funds for conservation, education, access to medical infrastructure, anti-poaching projects and provision of clean drinking water to the residents within the Mara ecosystem.

“For the last four years, our focus has been on education and this year, our focus is on conservation particularly stepping up the anti-poaching initiatives,” Said Konchella.

“This is in line with our aim of contributing towards sustainable development in the country by highlighting sports tourism and other attractions. It is also a means of giving back to the community by raising funds for projects in the community like Namunyak Girls and Aytong Primary school in Lemek,” he said.

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