It will be action galore when more than 2,000 runners battle at the sixth Masai Mara Marathon run set for October 18. 

Elite athletes, most of them in their build-ups for Frankfurt and ING New York City marathons, are expected in contention for the top prize at the Lemek Conservancy Council in Narok County. 

They will include athletes from the Mara Runners Club, Ruai Athletics Club, Narok Local Runners, Rongai Athletics Club, Mukuru Sports Club, Urban Swara’s Club. John Konchella, the Principal Secretary for East African Affairs and chairman of the Masai Mara Marathon, said the funds raised in the event normally go towards addressing shortfalls in education facilities, access to medical infrastructure, improvement of sanitation utilities, anti-poaching projects and provision of clean drinking water for residents. 

“Proceeds from previous editions of the marathon have gone towards construction of a dining hall and a dormitory for Namunyak Girls Secondary school in Lemek. The project is aimed at enhancing the educational experience for Lemek Girls who drop out of school due to long-distance travel and the community’s pastoralist way of life,” Konchella said during the race launch at a Nairobi hotel yesterday. 

Five-time world cross-country champion John Ngugi, former Olympic marathon silver medalist Douglas Wakiihuri, former world 800m champion Billy Konchella, 1992 Olympic 800m world champion William Tanui and George Kariuki, the former Africa record walker, were present at the function.

Also present were Principal Secretaries Dr Richard Ekai (Sports, Culture and the Arts), John Konchella (East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism), representatives from Kenya Tourism Board, Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat and vice presidents David Okeyo and Fatuma Awale. 

Billy Konchellah, who is s member of the event’s secretariat, said registration closes on October 11. 

“The course in the Mara is relatively flat and most athletes sharpen their speed ahead of New York (in November) and Frankfurt (in October) marathons. We are ready to welcome the world and will stage a high standard event,” said Konchellah. 

Kiplagat asked organisers of the Masai Mara Marathon to ensure the race coincides with migration of the wildebeests in the Masai Mara. 

“You need to make sure you make it coincide with the unique attraction. The world will be keen to come and it will be the best marathon ever. Raise the prize money to attract elite foreign runners as well. 

“This one can be part of Kenya’s talent search since the Masai land has already produced more than 10 per cent of athletic medals. Just harness the talents by using role models like world 800m record holder David Rudisha, and the others, as role models,” said Kiplagat.

He asked the media and other stakeholders to support Kenya’s bid for the 2017 IAAF World Youth Championships.

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