A month after recognition by Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMM) series, the Eldoret City marathon's planning has gained momentum amidst Covid-19 uncertainties.
The race billed as the highest paying marathon in Africa, has been set for April 11. It was cancelled last year.
Yesterday, event organisers led by chairman Andrew Chelogoi and race director Moses Tanui, the two-time Boston Marathon champion, said this year’s edition will take place under strict Covid-19 guidelines.
The technical team that also includes Richard Metto, an assistant coach to Patrick Sang, who is world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge’s trainer, said foreign athletes should be invited to battle it out with Kenyan stars for the Sh3.5 million prize money.
Last September, the race was marked by a tree planting exercise in Kapseret forest in line with its Climate Action theme.
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A million trees are planted every year in April during the race in support of environmental conservation in areas where athletes train.
Tanui said the course, which was standardised by the World Athletics ahead of the second edition in 2019, will not be altered this year.
The race starts at University of Eldoret through Mwanzo and West Indies residential areas before heading to Elgon View, then Kapsoya estate and finally to the finish point at Zion Mall.
“We will maintain the course because it is certified by world athletics,” Tanui said.
The technical team said a health sub-committee will advise on the best way to run the marathon safely during the Covid-19 period.
“We are inviting Ethiopian athletes to make the competition tougher. We have talked to some of them and their participation will be confirmed ahead of the race in April,” Tanui said.
The retired athlete said the local organising committee (LOC) will meet the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital staff to explore ways of allowing unrestricted traffic during the day of the race.
"We will engage the security team so that they can allow patients in private vehicles to access the referral hospital during the race," he added.
Chelogoi said the fanfare at the finish line will be minimised as they seek to maintain social distance.
"The race will take place in our traditional course because there will be no interaction between athletes and fans," the LOC Chairman said.
He said the April race will showcase the greatest athletics talent after a 2020 season, which was hit hard by the global pandemic.
"It will be the chance for upstarts to get noticed by athletics managers. It will happen under unique circumstances and we promise to do our best to make Kenya's biggest race successful," Chelogoi said.
He said Uasin Gishu County government, the main sponsors of the race, was working with the LOC as they seek to stage a world class event.
The Standard Group is the race’s official media partner.
Coach Metto said the world will be watching how the marathon is staged.