By Omulo Okoth
Since July when the Sotokoto Half Marathon was held in Nairobi, the winners are yet to receive their prize money. I have this on authority of the winner and runner-up of the women’s category, G race Momanyi and Philles Ongori.
I don’t know whether third-placed Pauline Njeri, and the rest of the top finishers have received their prizes. Neither do I know whether the men got their prizes. But my curiosity was raised when the top two women did not receive their prizes on race day as is normal practice.
Athletics Kenya (AK) raised the red flag a few years back on meet organisers who did not pay prizes as promised. John Ngugi, the winner of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games 5,000m, got himself into so much trouble last year when he organised a charity race, which was to sensitise the public on the danger of malaria.
I don’t know how he eventually weaved himself out of the prize money imbroglio. But the damage done to his reputation was huge.
Several races around the country are now sponsored by corporate companies and non-governmental organisations. Organisers hog so much publicity only to renege on the prize money issue. AK is handling a not too dissimilar case involving a race organised in Nyanza in which an official apparently took off with part of the money, which was meant for organsation.
The person who did not use that money for its intended purpose is now busy recruiting people as part of AK registration ahead of the poll. That is a story for another day.
My concern here is the high-profile Sotokoto Half-Marathon, started by marathon legend Douglas Wakiihuri three years ago amid a celebrity razzmatazz, which even included the country’s top political leadership.
The Japanese wanted to give back to Kenya what they had reaped in road running over the years which culminated in the east African nation’s first ever Olympic Games Marathon gold medal in Beijing in 2008, won by the late Samuel Wanjiru.
And they picked no less a celebrated person. Wakiihuri started the marathon fame for Kenya with 1987 World Championships in Rome and an Olympic silver medal the following year in Seoul. He won many other marathon majors. His name and that of Ibrahim Kipkemboi Hussein will go to the annals of history for Kenya’s marathon fame.
I have not been successful in reaching him this week. I hope to reach him soon to get an explanation on this apparent inadvertent failure to fulfil his part of the bargain.