Kemboi, Special Olympics squad set to ignite FLHM
Come one, come all and run for a worthy cause. That was the message organisers of Sunday’s third First Lady Half Marathon declared Friday confirming all preparations were complete.
Two –time Olympics and record four-time World 3000m steeplechase champion, Ezekiel Kemboi, will drop the water and barriers race to join participants in running with First Lady, Ms. Margaret Kenyatta among other stellar names in the sport that has given Kenya critical global acclaim.
On the serious matter of running for victory on the day, Moses Kosgey and Andrew Kimutai the gold and silver medallists at the 2015 edition of the 21km men’s race return to settle any afters from last year with Ksh750,000 at stake for the champion.
Kosgey who clocked in at 1: 01:28 for glory hopes to improve his timing at this year’s event.
“As an athlete, you always prepare to win each race, this is my goal and I am fully prepared to do just that come Sunday at Nyayo Stadium,” the man aiming to give the event a first repeat winner in its short history declared
Cynthia Chelagat, the women 10Km race winner from 2014 returns for a duel with Agnes Jesang, the World Military games 3000m Silver medallist also competing in the 10km event for top honours and the Ksh250,000 winner’s prize at the distance.
“I am excited to be running again this year. I am ready and hopeful to win even though I know many more athletes will also be competing for the ultimate prize”, said Chelagat.
To add spice to proceedings, the Airtel sponsored Special Olympics Kenya team that has 20 runners aged between 15 and 20 years drawn from different parts of the country will battle it out with their able bodied counterparts having spent the last fortnight training for the event.
The specials Olympians were on Friday joined by Airtel employees from both the Kenya and Airtel Africa Group offices led by Airtel Kenya CEO Adil El Youssefi for a training and interaction session at the University of Nairobi Sports Grounds ahead of the marathon that aims at raising funds to reduce maternal and child mortality.
Airtel has entered a strong team of 182 employees in this year’s marathon following a commitment by Airtel Africa CEO Christian de Faria to First Lady Margaret Kenyatta in November last year when the Company donated a mobile clinic in support of her Beyond Zero campaign.
“We would like to thank Airtel for the support that will give our young special Olympians an opportunity to participate in this year’s Beyond Zero half marathon for the first time. Special Olympics Kenya athletes with intellectual disabilities have continuously demonstrated courage; going beyond their disabilities to show the world that, given the chance, it is possible for one to achieve their dreams.
“This is the opportunity that Airtel has given them; a chance to join other Kenyans in support of a healthy society by running for a good cause. By participating in the First Lady’s Half Marathon they will give Kenya the opportunity to reach the universal goal of inclusion and remind everyone that disability is not inability,” said the Special Olympics Kenya National Director John Makathimo.
-All set for Sunday-
Speaking during a media briefing at Athletics Kenya (AK) Riadha House headquarters in the morning, Nairobi Branch chairman Barnaba Korir, said that all professional runners registered for the marathon will be tested for doping by the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK).
“This will be the first tests done by ADAK. The samples will be taken to Qatar and we expect that in three weeks we will have the results in three weeks, only then will the prize monies be release”, said Korir.
According to AK, the marathon will start with the 10km Wheelchair race at 6.30am. The 21km men and women race will be flagged off at 7.00am with the 10km men and womenrace following at 8.00am. The 5km and 2kmraces will start at 8.30am and 9.00am respectively.
In addition to the elite runners, some of the largest corporate team entries this year include Central Bank of Kenya with 500 entries and the Public Service Commission which has entered 200 participants led by the Chairperson Margaret Kobia who will run the 21km race.
Just like in the past marathons, this year will also be graced by a huge turnout of dignitaries such as governors, ambassadors, cabinet secretaries and captains of industry.
“We also expect a large turnout of participants from far-flung regions including schools and colleges who have come on board to support the ‘Beyond Zero’ Campaign,” said Myke Rabar, the Chief Executive Officer of Homboyz Aktivate, the event organizers.
And for the first time in the history of the marathon winners in all categories will also receive trophies alongside their prize monies. Similarly, the top seven finishers aged six years and below in the 2km Champions race will be rewarded courtesy of Merck Limited, makers of SevenSeas Cod Liver oil.
This year, the flagship event for the ‘Beyond Zero’ Campaign, aims to raise Ksh105 million from participation entries. As of Wednesday this week sponsorships and donations from both public and private organizations had reached Ksh189 million.
Among the largest donors include, Merck Limited and Commercial Bank of Africa who have given Ksh25 million each. Others include KCB Bank who donated two clinics worth Ksh20 million, Cooperative Bank Ksh15 million and Vivo Energy Ksh10 million.
All monies raised through the Marathon are geared towards the purchase of 11 remaining fully kitted mobile clinics, out of the original 47 clinics earmarked for each county in Kenya.The Beyond Campaign also has plan to build a specialized hospital for mother and child health care.
Mercy Rop also contributed to this report
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