•Wakiihuri mentioned the route, communications coordination and attendance as some of the positive aspects of the event
•Next year's event could transition to a more natural route and a higher peak in the mountains
•Kenya is also planning on sending a team to the World Mountain & Trail Running Championships in Thailand this year
Mt Kenya Mountain Running Championship technical committee chairman, Douglas Wakiihuri, believes the second edition of the annual event has brought Meru County a step closer to hosting a World Mountain Running event.
Wakiihuri termed the past weekend's championship a success because they had improved on so many aspects compared to the inaugural edition in 2020.
"From the comments we have received, the route was good. It was a different one from the first edition. The communication was good...Lewa Conservancy gave us 16 handsets and a vehicle to support the command centre. KWS gave us about 15 rangers and three rescue teams," Wakiihuri said.
He added: "We are also lucky the weather was good, unlike last time when it was rainy. Overall, it was a learning process and we hope next year we will do better so we can either bid for the World Championship or a World Series afterward."
Part of the changes the 1990 New York City Marathon champion has envisaged for next year's edition is a shift to a more natural trail.
"I think the next step is to go for a more natural trail...basically, to take it from the track into the mountains and hopefully get a higher peak to make it more challenging and interesting. I know this may be a bit more challenging for the athletes," Wakiihuri said.
He added: "Challenges will always be there, we can never have a perfect race. However, that we came here, competed and there are no casualties, that is already a success. Of course, for those running, there will be a few pains here or there but that is comfortably handled by the medical team."
Saturday's championship saw Bomet's Patrick Kipng'eno and Sheila Jebiwott clinch the men's and women's 13km races respectively as David Mwangi and Evalyne Syombua emerged top in the 8km races.
Wakiihuri expressed his desire to see more Kenyans embrace the sport.
"I don't want to wish what I never did. My wish is to see more young athletes competing in mountain running. I would also like to see more regions utilising their mountainous terrains to stage more such events. We already have Mt Longonot and Mt Kenya as well as Nandi Hills," the 1989 London Marathon champion said.
He also spoke of his optimism that Kenya will send a team to the World Mountain & Trail Running Championships in Chiang Mai, Thailand on November 18-20 this year.