What you need to know:
- Former world cross country champ leads chase for women’s 21km race
Two-time world cross-country champion Emily Chebet is banking on experience to deliver the women’s title when she lines up in the inaugural edition of the Stanbic Nakuru City Marathon on Sunday.
Chebet, who enjoys wealth of experience in distance running, is also banking on sound preparations as she looks to challenge for the title in women’s 21km category of the eagerly-awaited race.
Chebet specialises in 10,000 metres and cross country races, having twice won the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 2010 and 2013 in Bydgoszcz, Poland. She is the favourite to win the women’s 21km race.
Chebet, who celebrated her 35th birthday in February, is in good form and has been training under veteran coach Sammy Bii in Kericho.
She is one of the top athletes from the South Rift Valley region who will be going flat-out to conquer the tough 21km route. The route features hilly and flat sections.
Chebet, who represented Kenya in the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow and finished fourth in the 10,000m race, says Nakuru City Marathon promises to be a tough race as hundreds of elite runners have shown interest in competing.
"This is one of the biggest local events with good prize money that is coming after Covid-19 pandemic struck globally, keeping many athletes out of competitions. It's going to be a tough race, and every athlete wants to win. I know athletes who have stepped up training and have never rested since Governor Lee Kinyanjui launched this marathon in Nakuru," Muge, who finished third in the 10,000m race in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, said.
"The pandemic has kept many athletes out of action for more than one year and that means loss of livelihood. Stanbic Nakuru City Marathon is like the 11th-hour salvation for athletes who have missed opportunities to compete," Chebet, who finished sixth in 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China, said.
"I wish to thank Governor Kinyanjui for his forthright focus in developing and nurturing athletics talent in the region by investing heavily in such races. Other counties should emulate him and start similar projects not necessarily in athletics but in any other sporting discipline. It will create job opportunities for young people."
After competing in the Stanbic Nakuru City Marathon, Chebet plans to take a short break and to embark on training from early next year as she targets competing in a series of local and international races.
The race, which is one of the biggest locally, will start outside the Stanbic Bank Branch along Kenyatta Avenue in Nakuru town and terminate at the iconic Rift Valley Sports Club in the town centre.
Winners of men and women’s 21km races will go home Sh500,000 richer.
The runners-up in the competition, which is jointly sponsored by Stanbic Bank, Geothermal Development Company (GDC) and Nakuru County Government, will pocket Sh100,000. The top 15 finishers in the 21km and 10km races for both men and women will also receive cash awards.
Race organisers have also lined up a 5km family and fun race to make the event memorable for athletics lovers in Nakuru County and beyond.