The government, through the Ministry of Sports has assured support for the success of the Standard Chartered marathon which was launched in Nairobi.
The marathon, which has previously been fully physical, will now adopt a hybrid format that includes both physical and virtual participation.
Speaking during the event, the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Simon Kachapin noted that concepts such as virtual marathons are now taking shape, a move that allows the country to share its sporting experiences with the rest of the world without the limitation of locality.
“Kenya prides itself as the home of running champions and we look forward to a day when we will host all the participating marathoners physically, to have the rest of the world coming into the country to run with us and be a part of the running culture,” he said.
He mentioned that this year Kenya has an opportunity to host the Under 20 athletics championships in August, terming the event a great boost to the country.
“We believe that the collaboration from all stakeholders allows us the capability to hold sporting events at par with international standards,” Kachapin said.
He acknowledged the assistance the Standard Chartered Bank has made in the ministry’s mandate to spearhead and promote sports within the country.
Nairobi County Acting Governor Ann Kananu who attended the event noted that, the Standard Chartered Marathon, just like the recently held WRC Safari Rally has become a signature annual sport and social event that brings together runners and supporters locally, regionally and internationally, to Nairobi.
“I am happy to note that the marathon continues to grow from strength to strength, from 4, 000 participants back in 2003 to 20,000 world-class participants,” she said.
She implored on participants not to forget the ultimate objective of the Standard Chartered Marathon that is to lift Nairobi County to international standards and providing an opportunity for the local athletics talent to excel, a move that helps boost tourism in Kenya.
“The marathon creates an event in Kenya for everyone to enjoy and achieve its
ultimate goal of raising funds for the needy in the community under the Future Makers community initiative,” the Acting Governor stated.
The marathon makes a comeback this year after it was cancelled in 2020 due to unprecedented Challenges brought about by COVID-19 and the subsequent containment measures.
The newly adopted hybrid format will combine the traditional mass participation physical race for elite runners only with a virtual option for the rest of the participants.
The physical marathon restricted to 2,500 local and international elite athletes will be held on the Southern Bypass with Carnivore Grounds as the marathon venue.
With a great view of Nairobi National Park along the bypass, this year’s Marathon will be a great showcase of Nairobi City and its potential in the tourism sector.
The virtual marathon will be targeting 13,500 participants to encourage active lifestyles among participants and will be held between 25th, and 31st October 2021.
By Mical Imbukwa