Ambition, upsets, redemption and fun as StanChart Marathon electrifies Nairobi

Athletes in action along the Southern Bypass, Nairobi during the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon, yesterday. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

It seemed like a script straight from heaven. Not even the disciples could stop their insatiable hunger for the Sh2 million –but only God.

And what a beautiful day to end Kenya’s 2022 marathon running season that came with immense heartbreaks occasioned by the doping menace sweeping across the athletics landscape.

For a while, the unthinkable looked real. For a while, a great day looked destined for something beyond the wildest dreams.

Yesterday, the picturesque environment inside Uhuru Gardens fostered a pristine ambiance that spiced up the excitement of the marathon it’s often associated with.

The scenery at the historic park is certainly beautiful but for some, it was too beautiful.

Colourful Anne Njuguna in action during the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon held at Uhuru Garden in Nairobi on October 30,2022 [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

The atmosphere was simply electrifying. From all walks of life, they came in their thousands to watch action that sent the commemorative park and those lining up along the course into delirium as the sonorous cheers livened the air.

They gained a life of their own and floated over the spruced up Uhuru Gardens like the pregnant clouds of the last few days.

It shaped the overall narrative and made the headlines –after novices showed little respect for global bigwigs. Former Amsterdam Marathon winner Gideon Kipketer and three-time Boston Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo finished eighth and third in the 42km contests respectively.

The beauty of sport is shaped by its cruelties; the shock and heartbreaks.

Sports CS Ababu Namwamba(Right),award the winner of 42 Kilometers Women marathon race,Sheila Chepkech(Left)during the 2022 Stanchart marathon held at the Uhuru gardens on Sunday 30th October 2022 in Nairobi.[Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Elisha Chelimo and Sheila Chepkoech chalked up wins to each win Sh2 million top prize. Their wins brightened every little colour, it amplified every sweet sound and it saved the 19th Standard Chartered Marathon showdown –which attracted participants from 30 nationalities –for Kenya. It was a day the whole world awaited with bated breath for the unusual; Kenyan fans thronging the nation’s historic garden to catch the marathon action.

Among the electric crowds that painted the stadium red was Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, Chief of Defence Forces Robert Kibochi, senior officials of Standard Chartered Bank, Standard Group and Athletics Kenya. Former First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta was also in attendance. The mouth-watering battles on the course left many fans with a wandering eye gasping for breath when they got down showcasing their huge talents and riveting actions. Their spectacular shows brightened every little colour and amplified every sweet sound inside the park.

Elias Chelimo shows of his medal after he won the 42km men marathon during the 2022 Stanchart marathon at the Uhuru gardens in Nairobi on October 30, 2022. (Kelly Ayodi, Standard)

Green, the official colour for the one-day meet, remained visible in almost all vantage positions.

Excited local fans, most of them clad in green t-shirts, turned in large numbers to cheer on Kenyan stars.

KDF soldiers in resplendent jungle uniforms manned the entrance, while police officers remained vigil around the park.

Huge ambitions, upsets and redemption provided some exciting talking points as a handful of top stars battled upstarts in the chase for the Sh2 million winning prize.

“I am happy for the victory. I had been invited to the Frankfurt Marathon (held today) but could not make it due to visa delay,” said Chelimo.

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