The inaugural Lukenya University One Million Trees Marathon slated for Mtito Andei, Makueni County this Sunday (March 26) will honour top 20 athletes in each category.
This has been confirmed by the University Vice Chancellor Constantine Nyamboga who said overall winners in the men and women's marathon will each walk home Sh500, 000 richer.
“We will have 42km, 21km, 10km and 5km categories. It’s only the 5km that will not have any prize money.
“The races are open to athletes who are above 18 years old, no children will be allowed to participate due to the harsh climate conditions,” Nyamboga told Standard Sports.
The winners will be required to pass doping tests in order to receive their prize money in the marathon.
Nyamboga says 10km has been split to have the categories for the locals, the university staff and the elite athletes.
“We want the locals and the university staff to go home with something to remember about the race, they have been key pillars in supporting sustainable actions on climate change.
“The villagers will each be given ten seedlings to plant after the marathon. We will follow the progress through monitoring and evaluation, the aim here is to ensure Makueni becomes a greener and greener county,” Nyamboga says.
Some of the outstanding physical features the participating athletes will enjoy watching during the race includes the famous Yatta Plateau, River Athi and the Tsavo East National Park.
Nyamboga says the university opted this season to use sport as a tool to address climate change which is threatening millions of lives in the future globally.
“As a university, we are located in a semi-arid area, we have realized we have been missing rain meaning without the meandering Athi River there would not have been any water around,” he stated.
According to Nyamboga, Lukenya University’s plan to plant one million trees in the next five years (200, 000 trees annually) is part of heeding His Excellency President William Ruto’s call for support to plant 15 billion trees in 10 years.
“Sports is helping us to go line in line with our green philosophy, we are glad many sponsors have come on board to help us further the cause,” the VC says.
The lucrative race will also be graced by other former world beaters including Catherine Ndereba, Tegla Loroupe, Cosmas Ndeti and Patrick Makau who is the race ambassador.
For those who are interested in taking their skills in sports a notch higher, Nyamboga says the Lukenya University is now offering Certificate and Diploma courses in Sports Science which they can embrace.