Eldoret City Marathon which is on tomorrow offers a unique running experience and the town's high altitude stands out as one of its distinguishing physical features.
The race, whose course is almost similar to the well-heeled big city marathons – run within the town’s suburbs – attracts more than 2,000 entrants and well over 50,000 spectators. Its elevation, which stands at 2,100m above sea level, is quite punishing.
Race starts at the University of Eldoret through Mwanzo, West Indies to Elgonview to Kapsoiya then to the finish line at Central Primary School in town.
Two-time Boston Marathon winner Moses Tanui, the race director, said the course covers 90 percent of Eldoret suburbs.
“Eldoret has a good road network. We cover nearly all areas apart from Langas and a few sections. It is just like these other big city marathons where courses are within the city. It is a point to point course like Boston, London and Berlin marathons,” said Tanui, the 1991 world 10,000m champion.
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He said they are planning to partner with Boston Marathon organisers to raise the profile of the race.
“We are in negotiations with Boston Marathon organisers to see if we can forge a long-term partnership. We want it to get high standards of organisation.
“We are still developing the race and will offer winners Sh2.5 million ($35,000). “We are among the highest paying marathons in Africa and we want to become one of the best marathons in the world.
“We cannot hit big city races’ status in terms of prize money and organisation but we are sure to make some efforts. We are working closely with the county government in developing the race,” he said.
Last year’s organisation offered a different script as race officials – from the start to water points to the finishing line – comprised active and retired world-beating athletes.
“We want retired and the active top athletes to inspire and encourage the young ones. We want to show them that all is possible in Africa,” Tanui said.
The race is staged alongside spring marathons in Rotterdam, Paris, Boston, London and Hamburg.
“We want to position ourselves in the first season of marathon – March, April and April. The weather is good for marathon at this time. It will allow athletes, who missed invitations to the big city marathons, to compete at home while others will use it to prepare for second season marathons in September, October and November,” he said.
Elkana Yego, the two-time Kisumu City Marathon winner, will be back for another shot at the title.
Last year, Yego clocked 2:12.44 to win the men’s race upstaging Philip Cheruiyot Kangogo and Brian Kipsang.
Uasin Gishu County Government donated Sh15 million towards the marathon while the Standard Group PLC gave Sh5 million towards the coverage of the marathon.