By AYUMBA AYODI
An estimated 17,000 runners take to the Nairobi streets this morning in a battle for honours in various categories of the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon.
Though a considerable drop in turnout from last year’s 22,000, Local Organising Committee chairman Peter Gitau said organisers had hit their target to raise Sh25 million, up from last year’s Sh23 million.
While some 500 men and women compete in the 42km full marathon from 7am as 1,700 will line up for the 21km (half marathon) half an hour later. The 10km race at 8am will see the largest entry, 12,600. The wheelchair race and family run will start at 6:50am and 9am, respectively.
For the first time in the annual international event, the full marathon race will snake through Museum Hill and on to Forest Road before making a turn at the Pangani flyover. The runners will then go back to Forest Road and Museum Hill before hitting some of the city centre streets. This year, the Koinange Street stretch has been replaced by Muindi Mbingu Street.
The finish points for 42km and 21 km races will once again be at Nyayo National Stadium, they have been separated to avoid the confusion that almost saw an intruder declared the women’s 42km winner last year. In the 10km race, running microchips will be introduced to curb the cheating that rocked the event last year.
Stanley Kiprop Maiyo, who won last year’s Zagreb Marathon in two hours, 10 minutes and two seconds, is among the favourites to clinch the top prize of Sh1.5 million.
Maiyo will however face stiff challenge from a pool of seasoned long distance runners — including Joseph Biwott, ninth at the 2011 Amsterdam Marathon in a personal best 2:09:40 and Geoffrey Kiplagat, who did 2:11:56 in the 2008 Düsseldorf Marathon.
Former international Irene Kwambai, the 2004 Africa Championships 10,000 metres silver medallist who also won the bronze at the 2007 All Africa Games over the same distance, will highlight the women’s race. Also in the race are upcoming Sally Jebichi and Rose Rotich.
Last year, veteran marathoner Kenneth Mungara won the men’s full marathon in 2:11:40. Kenya Air Force soldier Winfridah Kwamboka (2:33:18) the women’s category but her moment of glory was almost ruined when an intruder, Selina Ariongonyang, almost cheated her way to victory.
Nairobi County Traffic Commander Peter Ndung’u said most of the roads along the marathon route will be closed between 4am and 1pm Sunday, including Uhuru Highway, Upper Hill, Forest Road, Mombasa Road up to Enterprise Road and part of Lang’ata Road. Within the CBD, Kenyatta Avenue and sections of Haile Selassie Avenue and University Way will be closed until 11.30am.
“We would like to assure Nairobi residents that there will be alternative routes for all affected roads leading to major installations in the city, including hospitals, churches and airports,” said Ndung’u.
Traffic to and out of the city will be mainly diverted through Industrial Area, Jogoo Road, Landhies Road, Globe Cinema roundabout, James Gichuru Road and Mbagathi Way.
Courtesy of nation.co.ke