The inaugural Iten International Marathon lived upto its billing following its successful hosting with winners walking away with a cool Ksh 1 million each for both men and women.
Caroline Chepchirchir and Samuel Naibei were the eventual winners of the annual Marathon held at the athletics capital of Iten today and which attracted hundreds of athletes and thousands of spectators.
In the women category, Susan Chemamiak scooped second position bagging the second prize of Ksh 750,000 while Mercy Kipkemoi was third earning Ksh 500,000.
In the men’s category, Joshua Kogo took second position to take the Ksh 750,000 prize while Albert Kangogo emerged third walking away with the third prize of Ksh 500,000.
The colourful marathon that began at Chororget area of Keiyo South Sub County and ended in Keiyo North Sub County was graced by Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui who was representing his Sports Counterpart Ababu Namwamba.
Chelugui congratulated Governor Wisley Rotich for the successful event saying the branding of the Marathon to an international one would rightly position Elgeyo Marakwet County as a global destination for athletics championship.
He pledged that the Government would fast track the completion of Kamariny and Kipchoge Keino stadiums in Uasin Gishu and Nandi to help athletes appropriately prepare for such events.
Governor Wisley noted that the Marathon was one of his campaign pledges and he would work to ensure it gets bigger and better in the coming years. He announced the date for next year’s will be made public in January.
Also present as a Guest was Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, who is also the NOREB Chairman, who said the region would rally behind Governor Wisley in developing an athletics circuit in the North Rift, similar to a grandprix, that would culminate in the Marathon.
Elite athletes who attended the event led by Kenya’s Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) Eliud Kipchoge and the Marathon Ambassador and County Hero Geoffrey Kamworor hailed the Marathon as a local event that they have been yearning for.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for. That is why when I was invited to be the Marathon Ambassador, I did not hesitate accepting the role,” said Kamworor.
Kipchoge said the success of the event will definitely attract over 1,000 athletes next year and called on stakeholders to support the Marathon as a homegrown talent exposure and reward initiative.
Members of Parliament from Elgeyo Marakwet County Adams Kipsanai (Keiyo North), Timothy Toroitich (Marakwet West) and Women Representative Caroline Ngelechei also graced the event and pledged financial support for next year’s event through CDF and NGAF.
The County Assembly Speaker Philemon Sabulei and Clerk Jane Mutai also hailed the successful hosting of the Marathon and pledged the Assembly continued support.
Sponsors led by title sponsor KCB through its CEO Mr. Paul Russo congratulated Governor Wisley for launching the Marathon to tap athletics talent in the region and said the bank would continue supporting the annual event.
Speaker after speaker also spoke out against doping with calls to introduce stiffer penalties to ward off the vice, which has almost led to the banning of Kenya in international athletics championships.
Among other attendees were Deputy Governor Prof Grace Cheserek, various sponsors, CECs, MCAs, national government officials, athletes, coaches, athletics scouts and members of the public.