Uasin Gishu County is making a return to Eldoret City Marathon sponsorship just months after controversially withdrawing its support for the race earlier this year.
Governor Jonathan Bii declared on Tuesday that the County Government will reclaim its place as the race’s title sponsor.
Bii said the County withdrew its sponsorship after the Auditor General queried why Uasin Gishu was spending public money on the annual marathon organised and directed by a private entity – Eldoret City Marathon Holdings.
Two-time Boston Marathon champion Moses Tanui is the race’s director.
The fifth edition of the marathon, which was set for October 1, 2023, was postponed indefinitely following delays by a Dubai based sponsor to avail the race’s prize money.
The delays sparked debate, with athletics enthusiasts and athletes questioning why the County was withdrawing sponsorship in an event that electrified Eldoret – The City of Champions every year since 2018.
Speaking during the funeral of Moses Tanui’s son Job Kiptoo in Sugoi, Uasin Gishu County on Tuesday, Bii assured athletes that the process to anchor the sponsorship in county laws was starting ‘immediately.’
In a change of tune, Bii said the Eldoret City Marathon had confirmed Eldoret’s status as the country’s City of Champions.
“We had a few challenges that arose from audit queries. The Auditor General was questioning why we were sponsoring a private entity,” the Governor said.
He said a meeting bringing together Uasin Gishu County Assembly and the executive would start the legislative process of entrenching the allocation of the event’s prize money in law.
“We are scheduling a meeting with Moses (Tanui) to discuss the best way forward.
“The Eldoret City Marathon is a race that defines Uasin Gishu as the City of Champions. Athletes from across the country will assemble in Eldoret to compete for the prize money.
“As a county therefore, we want to be part of this race because it empowers our athletics talents and brings visitors to our City of Champions,” Governor Bii said.
His predecessor Jackson Mandago was the race’s patron, courtesy of his position as Governor.
Bii explained that the return of Eldoret City Marathon would be coinciding with the expected elevation of the North Rift region’s biggest town and commercial hub to a city.
He said the town deserved a race of the status of Eldoret City Marathon when the conferment to City Status finally happens. A Senate Committee had given the elevation a nod in September.
Tanui, the race director, while eulogising wrote: “Your youth lives on through the spirit of Eldoret City, which is dedicated to the youth, to pursue their dreams, to be diligent and steadfast in the journey of life.”
After the postponement on September 28, barely three days to Sunday - the day of the event, Tanui said he was confident that the fifth edition would be staged as soon as the sponsorship issue was sorted out.