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Cheruiyot, Mutwa smile all the way to the bank

Athletics
 Administration Police’s Pauline Mutwa celebrates after winning the 42km women's race during the second edition of the Lukenya University 10 Million Trees Marathon on March 24, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

It was a grand pay day in Nairobi on Thursday for this year's winners of the second edition of Lukenya University 10 Million Trees Marathon.

Even though the competition, themed 'Running For A Greener Future' was held in Makueni County on March 24, 2024, the organisers had to wait for the confirmation of anti-doping results in order to present out the fat paychecks which saw top 15 finishers in all the major categories contested awarded.

Men and women's 42km champions Pauline Mutwa Sammy and Wilson Cheruiyot were the greatest beneficiaries of the day as each went home Sh500,000 richer.

Cheruiyot said he will use the funds won to uplift living standards of his family back home in Uasin Gishu County.

"I will also use part of the money to boost my training," said Cheruiyot, who practices at Jubilee Training Camp in Kapsabet.

Cheruiyot, who has won countless races in China, has plans to defend the Lukenya title next season.

His opinion about the competition is that it's a good race which helps with environmental conservation and marketing of Makueni County.

Cheruiyot is already stepping up training for the Kigali Marathon in Rwanda slated for June 9 where he has planned to go for the jugular.

Likewise, Mutwa has great plans for the money she won.

Her first stop will be at her local church where she will give out her tithe.

"After tithing, I will offset school fees for my daughter. I'm also going to fund my training in Kericho as I badly need to have proper training gear, good diet and respectable accommodation," the Administration Police officer based in Siaya station underlined.

Mutwa pledged not only to defend her Lukenya title next year, but to also lower her course record in the race.

"I'll train hard, I'll go there (in Makueni) guns blazing, we have to smash that record (2:37:38)," underlined Mutwa.

The 33-year old mother of one believes the Lukenya Marathon is a noble initiative with its support on sustainable actions on climate change.

"The race is making the world green through planting of trees, at the same time it is helping to market little known athletes like me," the Tallin Marathon (Estonia) Course Record Holder highlighted.

Mutwa embraced athletics at the age of 15. She is forever grateful to her mentor Paul Mutwii who is also the current Athletics Kenya vice president.

It was Mutwii who identified her talent back home in Bondoni (Kitui County) before taking her to Machakos Training Girls Camp for further grooming.

She later relocated to Kericho Training Camp under current coach Sammy Bii who mentored and introduced her into marathon running.

Early this year, Mutwa took part in the Lagos Marathon which she did not finish.

She is glad to have gone back to the drawing after the disappointment in Nigeria and her plan worked out in the Lukenya contest.

She now plans to better her 11th place finish at this year's Nairobi Expressway Marathon (formerly Uhuru Classic).

She is also eager to reclaim her glory back in Tallin Marathon where she broke its record in 2022.

"Last year I was second, but this year I want to win it," she underscored.

Mutwa's future target in athletics is to represent Kenya in the Worlds and at the Olympics, with intention to break the World Marathon Record.

Standard Group PLC is among the over 40 organisations supporting the annual Lukenya University 10 Million Trees Marathon.

The third edition of the race will be held on March 30, 2025. 

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