The inaugural Iten international marathon was expected to leave athletics fans on their feet, with a whetted appetite. And it delivered just as it was meant to.
After tough 42km racing on a high-altitude course from Chororget to Iten, in Elgeyo Marakwet County yesterday, marathoners Samuel Naibei and Caroline Jepchirchir emerged victorious. Each went home Sh1 million richer.
Despite the punishing course, Naibei clocked 2:08:43 as Jepchirchir cut the tape in 2:28:33.
As promised, marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge graced the occasion, accompanied by the race’s ambassadors three-time World cross country champion Geoffrey Kamworor and 2021 London Marathon champion, Joyciline Jepkosgei.
Legendary athletes from Elgeyo Marakwet, Paul Cherop, the first Kenyan national cross country champion in 1967, Billy Kosgei – the retired 400m hurdles athletes who ran for Kenya and Uganda in the 1960s and four-time World and two-time Olympic steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi, were at hand to receive athletes at the finish line near the governor’s office in Iten. Kemboi took fans back to his prime days as a 3000m steeplechase star when he danced his favourite finish line tune – Emmily Jepchumba after a brief speech.
When they spoke, the country’s big shots did not mince their word; they condemned the doping menace that has soiled the country’s stature in the global stage recently.
Kipchoge asked the country to take the fight against doping seriously.
“We are not serious in the fight against doping. Doping is a shortcut, but training is a long road to success. Trust the process and have the right systems,” said Kipchoge.
“If we are serious about tackling this menace, we have to register all coaches and have the right camps. We have no right camps in Iten, what we have are accommodation centres. How can Adak trace private accommodation centres?”
The world marathon record holder urged Elgeyo Marakwet County administration to own the marathon and allocated funds to sustain.
Kamworor also asked athletes to run a clean sport, describing suspected dopers as sportsmen and women hungry for dishonesty pay.
Cabinet Secretary for Cooperatives and Small and Small Enterprises Simon Chelugui graced the occasion alongside Elgeyo Marakwet Wisely Rotich and his Nandi counterpart Stephen Sang.
Governors called for the completion of stalled stadiums.