• The prize money will be Sh100,000 for winners in men and women’s half marathon; runners up will pocket Sh75,000 and third-placed athletes will take home Sh50,000.
• Former world marathon record holder Patrick Makau underscored the need for Kenyan athletes to run clean and win fair.
The inaugural edition of Kitui-Avena Half Marathon yesterday received a Sh1.5m from two partners yesterday.
Title sponsors Avena of Golden Africa donated Sh1m while Communications Authority of Kenya injected Sh500,000 towards the next month's event. The two organisations have committed to an initial three-year partnership.
The event will include the 21km for elite athletes, 8km and 6km for junior men and women respectively and the 2km fun run. The route will start at Mutumo town and end up in Ikutha on September 20, 2019.
Athletics Kenya Kitui sub-branch chairman Philip Ngovi noted that the event aims to tap into the talents of the local youths.
“People of Kitui are gifted but what lacks in terms of athletics is tapping talent. This is why the two junior races will mainly feature the locals,” said Ngovi adding that the region has produced some athletes who have conquered the world including former world marathon record holder Patrick Makau and two-time Valencia marathon champion John Nzau Mwangangi.
The prize money will be Sh100,000 for winners in men and women’s half marathon; runners up will pocket Sh75,000 and third-placed athletes will take home Sh50,000.
Winner of the 6km and 8kmwomen and men’s junior races respectively will be awarded Sh10,000, while second and third-placed runners will contend with Sh9,000 and Sh8,000 respectively.
However, Ngovi intimated that in the case more sponsors come on board, the prize money will be reviewed upwards.
With Kenya listed in category ‘A’ in the WADA watchlist, former world marathon record holder Patrick Makau underscored the need for Kenyan athletes to run clean and win fair. He said: “Let us avoid doping. We as Africans are naturally gifted and we don’t require boosts.”
Benson Wariithi, product manager at Golden Africa Kenya said this is his firm’s first-ever sponsorship for a sports event in their three years of existence and they are committed supporting sports.
Enock Wambua, the founder of the event and Kitui County senator said: “We have not properly invested to develop sports in our region. I reached out to friends to see how we can tap athletics talent and I'm thankful that we are here today (yesterday) launching the marathon,” he said.
Ngovi said they have set low registration fees in all categories to encourage more runners to take part. Runners in the 21km race will part with Sh500, 8km (Sh300) and Sh200 for both 6km and 2km fun run. Registration begun yesterday.