Pre-race events to electrify Iten ahead of this year's marathon

Caroline Jepchirchir sprints before winning last year's Iten International Marathon. [Peter Ochieng]

Several pre-race events are expected to electrify one of the world's famous training bases hours before the second edition Iten International Marathon is held.

Organisers yesterday said a children's run, tug of war and massive tree playing exercises will highlight the last few days ahead of November 12 marathon.

At the same time, winner of the inaugural (2022) edition Samuel Naibei said he will defend his title in this year's contest.

According to an elaborate plan by race organisers, a children's fun run and Kenya Police tug of war will be staged on November 11.

Amajor tree planting exercise in line with the race's Running for Climate Resilience theme has been scheduled for Thursday next week.

Speaking in Iten during a media launch and unveiling of sponsors, Elgeyo Marakwet Sports Executive Purity Koima said the 2023 edition will be one of the biggest athletics shows.

Koima said the introduction of 10km and 5km races places the Iten International Marathon on the league of global events to watch.

Elgeyo Marakwet County pumped Sh5 million into the race, becoming the title sponsor.

Standard Media Group PLC is the event's media partner.

"We are honored to host all our partners. It's the Governor's (Wisley Rotich) vision. He was wondering why Iten had no major race yet it produced world beaters in athletics," said Koima.

The CECM added: "Many sponsors believed in us during our inaugural marathon, which was planned in a record six weeks. Standard Group came in a big way when we were not sure of delivering a marathon."

Kenya Commercial Bank was the title sponsor of the inaugural edition. They are, however, still among the leading sponsors of the marathon.

Koima said a rich list of guests, led by Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, are likely to grace the extravaganza.

She said 80 athletes in total will be awarded; top 20 in each category in all the three races.

Race Director Boniface Tiren said the event made it to Athletics Kenya calendar.

Tiren, who is an athletics coach, said the course, which starts in Chororget in Keiyo South and ends at the finish line in Iten, will be manned by the police alongside a team of technical officials.

"We had a few hitches last year and we learnt from them. We are ensuring that the course is well managed," he said.

Women-only marathon record holder Mary Keitany said she was in talks with managers of her hotel in Kabarnet and Eldoret to be among partners of the race.

Keitany, a decorated marathoner who retired two years ago, urged athletes to shun doping.

"As coaches, we have to educate our athletes. If we work together, we can minimise doping. Let's support each other to make the race successful. I am talking to my hotel in Kabarnet and Eldoret to support the marathon," she said.

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