Unpaid runners threaten to sue Lari Marathon bosses
Aggrieved participants of the Lari Marathon have threatened to record statements at the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and take legal action after organizers failed to remit their prize money.
Speaking to Citizen Digital in Nairobi, the runners presented a letter from their lawyer demanding payment amounting to Ksh2m John Karegwa Muchiri, the main organizer of the event.
The marathon which ran its fourth edition has been engulfed in controversy with last year’s winners still waiting for their dues.
Philip Muia, the Southern Region Professional Athletics Association of Kenya (PAAK) chairman confirmed they had sought legal counsel and were in the process of serving the accused.
“We are planning to go the CID offices with the lawyer’s letter to record a statement and also issue Muchiri with a copy so when the given period elapses, we can now take the matter to court,” he underscored.
“We have been instructed by our above mentioned client to demand from you immediate payment of Kshs. 2 million being amount of money owed to them as prize money for athletes who petitioned in awards for Lari Marathon year 2015 and 2016 by the company associated to you (Capacity Africa Ltd.),” read the letter in part.
“Take notice that unless the above mentioned amount of money Kshs. 2 million plus Kshs. 40,000 is paid to our office within the next fourteen days from the date of the letter, our instructions will be to institute civil proceedings for recovery of the amount of money,” it added.
The athletes paid a registration fee of Kshs 1000 also had to contend with a penalty of Kshs2,300 levied by the bank after cheques handed to them by the organizers bounced.
Njoroge Kamande, the 5K revealed the athletes did not bother signing commitment forms before the race as the organizers had promised to award prize money immediately after.
“We waited for hours after the marathon for the prize money then we were presented with bouncing cheques and up until now we have not received official communication from them. None of the ladies however got them as they had given up and gone home,” he added.
Muia blamed naivety as the main reason why some runners insisted on competing in the marathon yet their 2014 dues had not been settled.
“Most athletes, who participated in the first edition were not aware it had not been sanctioned by Athletics Kenya and that’s why the organizers decided to take advantage of them.
“You can’t really blame them for taking part in the event because most don’t understand how the system works and all they care about is getting money at the end of the race,” the PAAK official declared.
Top ten finishers were promised cash prizes with the podium finishers in the main 21K races due to pocket Ksh100,000, Ksh75,000 and Ksh 50,000 in that order.
Francis Muchiri, who participated in the 12.5 km event, pleaded with the Government to intervene and make sure the culprits are brought to justice.
“I took part in the two editions of the marathon and up to now I have not received a single cent. After last year’s race I had vowed not take part in this year’s edition but they came and persuaded us that this time it would be different because they had overhauled the people in charge,” he explained.
“I was a little bit suspicious at first but I eventually convinced myself if that even if the events played out as before I would just use the race as part of my training.”
Acting AK CEO, Susan Kamau, cautioned athletes from competing in races that had not been sanctioned by the federation but promised to take action on organizers.
“AK had not approved of the race but we shall take action against the organizers to ensure they have paid the athletes their dues for last year and this year. We had a meeting with them and they agreed to let the federation follow up on the issue,” she reiterated.
Lari marathon has been taking place at Kereita Forest in Kiambu County since 2013 and is a conservation project under the auspices of Capacity Africa, Rural Resources Africa and Kereita Forest and Wildlife Conservation Association.
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