Tough balancing act awaits Eldoret marathon
ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | March 16th 2021
Race will be held on Sunday, April 11
Several foreign athletes are expected to take part in the 2021 edition.
With 25 days to the first marathon show in Kenya this season, organisers are working round the clock to stage a safe race amidst Covid-19 restrictions.
Organisers will seek to strike a perfect balance between delivering a world class race and adhering to Covid-19 protocols as the clock ticks towards the third edition of the Eldoret City Marathon on April 11.
The race, which is the richest in Africa owing to its Sh3.5 million prize money for winners, is expected to electrify the agricultural town of Eldoret.
A section of Kenya’s top guns and veteran athletes will be on the sidelines to catch a glimpse of the thrilling race.
Yesterday, three days after President Uhuru Kenyatta escalated Covid-19 protocols, the race’s technical team was exploring ways of limiting crowds at the start and finish line. Being held in Eldoret, a town dubbed as City of Champions and with large numbers of athletics enthusiasts, the race is projected to attract crowds at the finish line near the Zion Mall.
Race director Moses Tanui and chairman Andrew Chelogoi said a large number of elite athletes will take part in the race.
Tanui, a two-time Boston Marathon winner, said the main focus will be on the start and finish lines.
“Athletics fans always throng the finish line but this time, because of the escalated Covid-19 containment measures, we might reduce the numbers to a maximum of 100 people – mainly race officials,” the race director told Standard Sports after a Local Organising Committee (LOC) meeting in Eldoret yesterday.
Tanui said social distancing between athletes will be adhered to at the start line outside University of Eldoret.
“We assure athletes who will take part in the race that health protocols will be enforced. It will be safe and they should continue registering,” the former 10,000m world champion said.
It was not clear by yesterday whether fans will follow the action on television or they’ll be allowed to file along the streets, but the technical team maintained that crowds will be managed in strict conformity with the race’s Covid-19 guidelines which will be released by next week.
Chelogoi said the police will be charged with controlling the large crowds at the finish line and along the 42km course.
“The 5km fun race may attract a sizable number of participants and we will also ensure that the health protocols in this race are strictly adhered to,” Chelogoi said.
“The police will advise on the best ways to enforce the Covid-19 guidelines while ensuring that fans enjoy the marathon.”
Athletics coach Richard Metto, who is a member of the LOC, said athletes are yearning for the prize money and the opportunity to race.
“Athletes are thirsty, not only for the cash prizes but to take part in a competition. The Covid-19 pandemic period has been too long and marathoners have been training,” Metto said.
The technical team has launched registration centres in major athletics training camps including Global Sports Communication in Kaptagat, Rosa Associati camp in Kaptagat as well as training bases in Iten, Nandi, Baringo, Nakuru, Kericho and Nyahururu.
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