Fancy a camel? Then race at Turkana Festival


Marsabit Governor Ukur Yatani during the race launch at the National Museum. PHOTO/Courtesy
Marsabit Governor Ukur Yatani during the race launch at the National Museum. PHOTO/Courtesy

Ordinarily, winners of races locally and abroad are awarded with cash, trophies and certificates.

However, those who excel at the  half-marathon that will be part of the ninth edition of the Marsabit Lake Turkana Cultural Festival; had better start looking for a vehicle large enough to transport a camel!

The humped desert ship animal will be part of the prize package at the race that will be part of this year’s festival besides cash awards in what will mark the first ever elite race in Loyangalani.

The average life expectancy of a camel is 40 to 50 years meaning the winner will have a long time to bond with the unique prize. A full grown adult camel stands at 1.85cm (6ft, 1in) at the shoulder and 2.15m (7ft, 1in) at the hump.

And if the recipient fancies to run away from his/her reward, camels can run up to 65km/hr in short busts and sustain speeds of 40km/hr that are on the brink or above the limit set for Nairobi’s Central Business District, faster than the men 100m and 200m record holder Usain Bolt!

Marsabit Governor; Ukur Kanacho Yatani and Sports Permanent Secretary Richard Ekai were joined by Moyale legislator; Ruba Doba for the event’s launch at the Nairobi National Museum on Tuesday where the programme for the May 19 to 27 festival was rolled out.

It will bring together 14 communities for a cultural show with the Marsabit races part of the Great North Heritage Run that will also see road races run in Iten (June 16 to18), Lodwar (July 14 to 16) and Isiolo (August 25 to 17).

It shall have a 21-kilometre elite race, 21-kilometre community relay, 10-kilometre elite race alongside a 10-kilometre Moran race and a 10-kilometre women’s race in Sarima and Lonyangalani areas.

“There is also a 10-kilometre corporate challenge, 10-kilometre tricycle race and a three-kilometre children’s race,” race co-ordinator Maxwell Nyamu said at the launch.

The races are organised by Seamless Creative and Event Management in conjunction with the County Government of Marsabit and the Ministry of Arts, Sports and Culture.

“Athletics in Kenya is confined to a few areas. Mo Farah, who is from Somalia, continues to terrorise us in the 5000m and 10000m and if we extend the sport to that community here, we will have more Farahs,” Ekai said in his remarks.

Race courses have been surveyed, measured and marked to international standards by Athletics Kenya.

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Story By Mutwiri Mutuota
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