It’s that time of the year when runners from all walks of life meet for the Standard Chartered Nairobi International Marathon, or, as organisers succinctly put it, “the largest single-day sporting event in Kenya.”
It is indeed the largest as more than 22,000 people — all participating as runners — took part last year.
While more than 25,000 runners are expected to converge in Kenya’s capital on October 28 for the 15th edition of the race, running enthusiasts and record keepers will be keen to find out whether 2018 will live to the race’s tradition of unveiling a new winner or be the year that a previous winner defends his/her title successfully, like in 2003.
Last year’s half-marathon winner Valary Ayaibei, who also won the Beijing Marathon in September (becoming the first black woman to do so), will be on the tracks to defend her title.
Also expected at the starting line will be athletics greats like Julius Keter (who finished second at the Hong Kong Stanchart marathon) and Julius Korir, the Edinburg marathon champion.
Seasoned long-distance runners Eunice Chebet and Naomi Jepkorir Kipsanai have also confirmed participation.
Add to these several thousand runners here for various reasons - but all expressed through running and for the dozens few, wheelchair race.
About Ksh8.1 million ($81,000) is on offer as prize money, with the male and female marathon winners taking home Ksh1.5 million ($15,000) each while the half-marathon winners (male, female, wheelchair male and female) will each get Ksh200,000 ($2,000).
For the team that wins the corporate challenge, there is Ksh100,000 ($1,000) to be won. This is a prize with a difference for it is donated to the charity of the winning team’s choice.
According to Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon chairman Peter Gitau, this year’s route will take runners through Nairobi’s most iconic landmark, the Kenya International Conference Centre.
At hand to guide runners through the six races— 42km male and female, 21km male and female, 10km male and female, 21km wheelchair male and female, 5km Family Fun Run race and the CEO Fun Run — will be 600 volunteers and 300 support staff.
Mr Gitau, in his statement carried on the event’s website, promised easier and faster registration in future due to digitisation of participants data.
As with previous races, proceeds of the marathon will go to the “Seeing is Believing” community initiative, which has helped restore sight to more than 4,500 children in Kenya.
Working with the Christian Blind Mission, Standard Chartered sponsors cataract, glaucoma and trauma related surgeries for needy children under the age of nine.
Under Seeing is Believing, the bank — in partnership with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and leading eye care organisations — aims to tackle avoidable blindness and visual impairment by raising money for investment in eye care projects that have long-term impact in areas of high need.