Who will blink first at Sunday's Eldoret City Marathon?

Athletics
By Stephen Rutto | Sep 27, 2023
Men participate in 42 km race during the fourth edition of Eldoret City Marathon in Eldoret Uasin County last year. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

It is only four days away before Eldoret, the mecca of athletics hosts one of the biggest marathons.

Hundreds of elite marathoners and 5km fun run participants are preparing for an extravaganza like no other.

All athletes are expected to have registered for the fifth Eldoret City marathon by today, and by tomorrow they will have picked their BIB numbers in readiness for the Sunday showdown.

The race’s lofty dream of matching the Boston Marathon lives on.

Even as organisers entered the final stretch of the preparations, the question of who will blink first on Sunday, October 1, 2023, lingered.

Last Sunday, the town was electrified as thousands of fans followed the 49th edition of the Berlin marathon happening more than 9,000km away in Germany.

On Sunday, as has been Eldoret tradition, the multitudes will be thronging the streets of the North Rift town, a hub that like the marathon, harbours an ambitious dream of attaining city status.

Athletes will cross a record 168 intersections on the new Eldoret City Marathon course.

The new course has since been verified by world measurer, three-time Boston Marathon winner Ibrahim Hussein.

With a common start for the elite and fun runners at the White Highlands Inn in town, speed-loving Kenyans will race alongside athletics champions.

Among Eldoret’s road racing enthusiasts have been children aspiring to take the mantle from today’s world beaters in athletics. They will be expected to follow the action keenly along designated areas.

“We have notified churches on the road closure and the faithful are aware. It will be an opportunity to walk while exercising as they head to places of worship,” said an event organiser.

Another spectacular showdown pitting North Rift counties is also expected on Sunday.

Uasin Gishu and Nandi counties are preparing 1,000 and 130 athletes respectively as the clash for the race’s Sh18 million total prize money began in earnest.

The Counties dubbed the City of Champions (Uasin Gishu) and the Source of Champions (Nandi) said they had sponsored their athletes and that expectations of their teams coming home with cash prizes were high.

Top coaches from Elgeyo Marakwet, the Home of Champions were also prepared to field a number of athletes for the Eldoret showdown.

“We have cleared several athletes to participate in the 42km race. They are well prepared. A few athletes are yet to confirm their participation but they will have made up their minds by Wednesday (today). The Eldoret City Marathon is important for them (the athletes),” Kapcherop-based assistant coach Philemon Kipruto said ahead of today’s closure of registration.

Technical teams yesterday said they would ensure that the plans are completed by today, three days before the contest.

“We have to be ready in the next two days. The route is ready and other technical bits should also be complete,” said technical Japheth Kimutai, a former 800m Commonwealth champion.

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